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Sleep Disruption with TBI's


Many people who have brain injuries suffer from sleep disturbances.  Sleep is a complex process that involves many parts of the brain.  The brain directs sleep by putting your body to rest.  When you injure your brain, it can lead to many changes in sleep.  For this reason, and depending on the location and the extent of the injury, many different kinds of sleep disturbances can occur after a brain injury.  Not sleeping well can increase or worsen depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and one’s sense of well-being.  It can also lead to poor work performance and traffic or workplace accidents.  A review of sleep disorders studies and surveys revealed that a sleep disorder is three times more coming in TBI patients than in the general population.  Women are more likely to be affected, as are the elderly. 

Some common sleep disorders include:

Insomnia-difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep or sleep that does not make you feel rested.  Insomnia can worsen other problems resulting from brain injuries, including behavioral and cognitive difficulties.  Insomnia makes it harder to learn new things, and is typically worse directly after injury, and often improves as time passes.   

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome-Mixed up sleeping patterns.

Narcolepsy- Falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably during the day.

Common sleep syndromes include:

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Urge to move the legs because they feel comfortable, especially at night or when lying down. 

Bruxism: Grinding or clenching teeth.

Sleep Apnea: Brief pauses in breathing during sleep, resulting in reduced oxygen flow to the brain and causing loud snoring and frequent awakening.

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Involuntary movement of legs and arms during sleep. 

Sleepwalking: Walking or performing other activities while sleeping and not being aware of it.

Things You Can Do to Improve Sleep:

Set an alarm to try to wake up at the same time every day.

Include meaningful activities in your daily schedule.

Get off the couch and limit TV watching

Exercise every day.

Try to get outdoor for some sunlight during daytime. 

Don’t nap for more than 20 minutes a day.

Go to bed at the same time every night.

Follow a bedtime routing.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and sugar for five hours before bedtime.

Avoid eating prior to sleep to allow time to digest, but also do not go to bed hungry.

Do not eat, read, or watch TV while in bed.

Keep stress out of the bedroom.  Do not work or pay bills there.

Create a restful atmosphere in the bedroom.

If you don’t fall asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing or boring until you feel sleepy.  


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