Consequences of Insomnia After TBI
One of the most common effects of a traumatic brain injury is insomnia. Insomnia is not your friend. It has been linked with obesity, depression, memory loss, stroke, and other adverse conditions. How does insomnia affect the brain? Christian Benedict at the Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Sweden, did a study involving a group of healthy young men. He had half sleep a normal 8 hours at night, while the other half was kept sleep deprived. In the morning he checked their blood. In the sleep deprived group he found a significant increase in two molecules (NSE and S-110B) that should stay in the brain. Their presence in the peripheral blood supply outside the brain indicates some degree of brain damage. While one night of sleep deprivation is not a big deal, if insomnia goes on for weeks or months this would place a great deal of stress on the brain.
People with a TBI who are suffering from insomnia should not ignore it, but should make a concerted effort to seek out a treatment that works. Depending on individual differences a person could benefit from one or more sleep remedies such as prescription sleep medication, melatonin, smelling a fragrance, using white noise, making your bedroom extra dark or coming up with a sleep hygiene program. Certain things to be avoided in the evening are caffeinated beverages and upsetting materials on the TV news, magazines or books. Reduce rather than increase your level of stimulation. Stretching and slow, deep breathing while imagining waves washing gently upon a beautiful beach can help.