A recent study determined that patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) need more sleep than those who had never suffer the trauma. Authors also said that those with TBI did not realize their sleep-wake disturbances and these were underestimated.

The team analyzed two groups’ sleep patterns and the sleeping needed per 24 hours for each one. Patients with TBI, after 18 months of the injury, needed 8.1 hours while those in the control group only needed 7.1, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

In the US, an average of 1.7 million people suffer from this type of injury every year, and an estimated 52,000 deaths occur. Credit: schlosserandpritchettlaw

While studying the subject’s sleepiness during the day, researchers from the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland determined that patients with TBI were 67 percent more likely to fall asleep than the others without it, which were only 19 percent likely and showed a significant difference among the two groups.

However, besides the significant difference, patients with TBI did not realize they had a problem with daytime sleepiness at the moment of self-reporting their sleeping patterns. The evaluation for daytime sleepiness was measured by how quickly people fall asleep in a quiet environment during the day, as reported by CBS News.

For the study, the team at first gathered 140 but eliminated those who had prior brain trauma, other neurologic or systemic disease, drug abuse or psychiatric comorbidities to avoid other variables from interfering with the results.

After 18 months of the trauma, the team performed detailed sleep assessment in only 31 of the participants and included a control group with the same amount of participants who were healthy and matched for age, sex and sleep satiation, the study said.

“This is the longest prospective and most comprehensive study about sleep quality and TBI to date,” said Dr. Lukas Imbach, study author. “We found that the majority of those with TBI, no matter how severe, had long-term sleep disturbances, yet did not know,” he added.

Further tests needed

Although the findings were the first of its kind, it is too soon according to the authors to start recommending treatment or for calling a massive screening. Ibach said that until the mechanisms behind sleepiness in TBI patients are better understood, it may be too soon to try using a drug to lessen sleep needs.

Although this daytime sleepiness could be considered as dangerous in some scenarios, further tests are needed for identifying the cause. In the author next study, his team will be using brain imaging to help understandings of the mechanisms.

Source: Neurology