Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


Insomnia Worsens TBI While Sleep Helps Heal It

Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of TBI, whether the TBI is mild, moderate or severe. Aside from making you fatigued, what other effects does sleep loss have? Surprisingly inability to sleep at night prevents the brain from making the new myelin that is required to coat brain cell axons and keep brain cell messages humming across the brain. This was described in the September 4, 2013 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience by Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

According to the researchers when mice sleep the myelin-producing genes in their oligodendrocytes are activated, but when they are kept awake those genes are turned off and other genes associated with brain cell stress and brain cell death are turned on. “These findings hint at how sleep or lack of sleep might repair or damage the brain,” said Mehdi Tafti, PhD, who studies sleep at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and was not involved with this study. These findings show how important it is to work with your physician after TBI to reduce insomnia. They are also useful in explaining why a person with TBI-related insomnia continues to show slowed cognitive processing beyond the expected time period for resolution of that problem.