Sleep Issues a Long-Term Effect of Concussions

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, March 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Concussions may increase the long-term risk of a wide range of sleep disorders, a new study says.

Researchers looked at more than 98,700 U.S. veterans diagnosed with head trauma (TBI) and the same number of veterans with no history of TBI. Brain injuries ranged from mild TBI (concussion) to severe.

None of the participants had sleep disturbances at the start of the study, but over 14 years of follow-up, 23% of people with TBI developed sleep disturbances, compared to 16% of those without a history of brain damage.

“We found that people with TBI had an increased risk of insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep-related movement disorders, and excessive daytime sleepiness – all of the sleep disorders we looked at,” said study author Dr. Yue Leng, epidemiologist and sleep researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

After adjusting for other risk factors for sleep disorders such as diabetes, smoking or substance use disorders, the researchers concluded that people with TBI were 40% more likely to develop the disorder. sleep than those who did not.


The association was stronger for veterans who had concussions than for those with moderate or severe TBI.

The study found that 11% of veterans with TBI developed sleep apnea and 12% developed insomnia, compared to 8% and 7%, respectively, of those without TBI. In sleep apnea, breathing stops and starts again several times during the night, while people with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

According to the study, post-traumatic stress disorder neither increased nor decreased the risk of sleep disturbances. The results were published online on March 3 in the journal Neurology.

“Since sleep disorders affect people’s quality of life and their rehabilitation process, it will be important to develop strategies to identify these disorders early and prevent them from occurring after traumatic brain injury in order to improve health. overall and people’s quality of life, ”Leng said. in a press release.

More work is needed to understand the link between the different severity of TBI and the development of sleep disorders, she noted.


“The stronger association for people with mild TBI could be due to the different brain injury mechanism for these injuries,” Leng said.

For example, mild TBI often involves repetitive concussions or acceleration or deceleration injuries causing more diffuse injury and inflammation, she explained. On the other hand, moderate or severe TBI is often due to a direct hit to the head with more concentrated but severe damage.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on concussions.

SOURCE: Neurology, press release, March 3, 2021

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