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Brain Injury: Sleep Disorders Following a Brain Injury

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Who is Affected?

  • Sleep disorder affects patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) three times more than the average person. 60% of patients complain of long-term sleep disorders
  • Women tend to be affected more than men
  • Sleep complaints increase as a person ages

Types of Sleep Disorders

  • This depends on the location of the TBI. Some patients experience:
    • Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness
    • Reversed sleep patterns
    • Falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably in the day
  • Other symptoms include restless leg syndrome, bruxism (teeth grinding) and sleep apnea (abnormal breathing during sleep)

What Can Be Done to Improve Sleep?

1. Changes in Behaviour and Environment


  • Set an alarm to wake up at the same time everyday
  • Keep your day filled with meaningful activities
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid daytime napping (do not sleep for more than 20 mins)

Night Time

  • Go to bed at the same time every night
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar at least five hours before bedtime
  • Do not eat within two hours of bedtime
  • Avoid vigorous exercise within three hours of bedtime
  • Do not eat/work/watch TV on the bed
  • Create a restful atmosphere in the bedroom (optimal lighting and temperature)

2. Treatment Options

  • Speak to your doctor if your sleep problems persist
    • Your doctor will evaluate your sleep problems and make a personalised treatment plan
    • Psychotherapy may help if mood problems are causing your sleep disorders
    • Medications can be prescribed to assist with improving your sleep
    • Natural remedies such as herbal teas and melatonin have been found to be useful for sleep disorders. However, there may be potential drug interactions (when taken with other medications), so please consult your doctor first

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace the advice from a medical professional. You should consult your health care provider with regards to specific medical concerns or treatment.

What Causes Sleep Disorders?

Daytime napping



Brain damage which disrupts the internal clock in the brain



Physical inactivity
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