Sleep recovery good following mild traumatic brain injury

By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Recovery from sleep disturbance following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) occurs more rapidly than depression and anxiety recovery, study findings indicate.

“Sleep disturbance may be an independent symptom of mTBI that alters the circadian rhythm through injury-related changes in gene expression,” suggest the research team.

“Alternatively, sleep disturbance may simply be a symptom of depression or anxiety that improves early during recovery.”

The findings showed that symptoms of depression and anxiety in 100 patients with mTBI improved by the sixth week of recovery, but were still significantly worse than those of 137 individuals without brain injury.

By contrast, sleep quality in this time improved to a level that no longer differed from that of the control group.

At baseline, mTBI patients had an average Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score that was a significant 3.81 points higher than that of controls. By 6 weeks, the difference was a nonsignificant 0.7.

The difference in Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI) score was significant at baseline (4.08 points) and remained so at 6 weeks (2.27 points), and the same was true for the differences in Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) score (4.51 and 3.51 points, respectively).

“Diminished sleep quality is one of the most commonly reported symptoms following an mTBI, and depression and anxiety are also prevalent,” researcher Chaur-Jong Hu (Taipei Medical University, Taiwan) and colleagues comment.

Indeed, 90% of patients with mTBI reported sleep disturbance, compared with 44% of controls, they note in BMJ Open.

The researchers acknowledge that they only studied the subacute stages of sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression and not the chronic stages of these conditions.

Also, change in rapid eye movement sleep, which plays an important role in mood disorders, was not assessed.

“Although long-term observational studies are required to confirm our findings, our results provide valuable information for understanding the development and recovery of mental disorders following an mTBI,” the team conclude.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.


  1. Deborah_Tub City Deborah_Tub City United States says:

    I can see how important rest is for TBI, but I wonder if too much sleep can worsen the depression I'm noticing in my husband? How much is enough? How much is too much?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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