Nurture Integrative Health

Disordered sleep is exceedingly COMMON, after a Traumatic Brain Injury with excessive sleep or disrupted sleep reported by most patients. Unresolved sleep disturbance can prolong brain injury recovery. Basically, your brain needs sleep to heal. 

Sleep-Wake disturbances are reported in up to 70% of all brain injury, occurring at more than 3x the rate of people without brain injury. The sleep disturbances caused by brain injury can surface up to 3 years after a traumatic event. So, good sleep routines and hygiene is important for not only recovery but brain health in general. 

Some people are more likely to develop disordered sleep after a brain injury including: 

  • Women

  • People poor preinjury sleep quality 

  • poor sleep/cognition within 2 weeks after injury. 

Disordered sleep is the #1 contributing factor to developing neurocognitive or neurobehavioral deficits in TBI patients including: 

  • Depression 

  • Anxiety 

  • Memory loss 

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering

  • Chronic pain

Breaking Down Common TBI Sleep Disturbances: 

  • Insomnia: 30-60% of cases of all severities 

    • 6% of patients with no TBI 

    • 20% of patients after a single TBI

    • 50% of patients with history of multiple TBIs

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: 57% of TBI patients 

    • Occurs in less than 20 of the population with no TBI history

  • Hypersomnia: increased need for sleep: 

    • 22% of patients reported they need 2 or more additional hours of sleep than before their brain injury 

  • Sleep breathing disorders: 

    • 25-35% of patients have obstructive sleep apnea following TBI 

  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders:

    • 36% of TBI patients experience disruptions to day/night sleep patterns

  • Abnormal Movements and Behaviors during Sleep 

    • 42% of TBI patients experience Parasomnias or abnormal moving during sleep including walking & talking). 

    • 25% of TBI patients report increase in teeth grinding and bedwetting in adolescents with TBI 

Best  Practices for Addressing Sleep Disturbances

  • Sleep Hygiene

    • Make the room dark to help increase natural production of melatonin at night 

    • Keep electronics out of the bedroom

    • Turn electronics off 2 hours before bed

    • Consider a protein snack before bed to help balance blood glucose 

  • Phosphatidylserine Supplements 

    • Promote healthy nerve cell membranes and myelin increasing brain function and resilience. It supports cognition, language skills, memory formation, and ability to focus. When taking before bed can have a profound impact on sleep after TBI.  (stop back on Friday for a deep dive into his important brain healing supplement) 

  • Melatonin

    • Particularly helpful for initiating sleep cycles within 20 minutes of taking. 

  • Botanicals like:  

    • Valerian Root, Valeriana Officinalis, is especially helpful post-brain injury for it’s GABA promoting actions. It also helps reduce anxiety around sleep. 

    • Passion Flower, Passiflora Incarnata, is useful in supporting insomnia and nervous system disorders.

    • Lemon Balm, Melissa Officinalis a member of the mint family, uplifting and soothing to insomnia and the nervous system.

If you are still struggling with sleep, schedule a consultation to talk about other therapeutic options for sleep or speak with your physician. 


PMID: 30347632, 28329120, 24992464

Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our latest news and health tips!

You may unsubscribe at any time per our Privacy Policy.