Background: Sleep disturbance is a common subjective complaint of minor traumatic brain-injured (mTBI) patients, but little is known about the characteristics of sleep disturbance in adults years after the injury.
Methods: Polysomnographic (PSG) and multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) records of 26 mTBI adult patients with normal brain computerized tomography and negative encephalographic studies, no past history of CNS pathology, no premorbid or present major psychiatric diagnosis, and no sleep apnea syndrome were compared to a matched group of apparently healthy individuals (controls).
Results: Sleep patterns were disturbed in the mTBI patients. Their sleep architecture was altered, with significantly higher light-sleep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage 2 scores compared to controls (54.5+/-13.4% vs. 46.6+/-10.4%, respectively, p=0.03) and significantly lower REM sleep scores (21.2+/-8.4% vs. 25.4+/-4.5%, respectively, p=0.05). The MSLT findings documented significant excessive daytime episodes of falling asleep.
Conclusions: Sleep disturbances of adult patients with chronic mTBI may manifest characteristic alterations in both timing and architecture of their sleep patterns. Sleep lab evaluations may help identify subgroups of mTBI patients who would probably benefit from treatment.