Study objectives: A number of subjective and objective studies provide compelling evidence of chronic post-concussion changes in sleep, yet very little is known about the acute effects of concussion on sleep quality and quantity. Therefore, the purpose of this prospective pilot study was to use actigraphy to examine the changes in sleep quality and quantity acutely following concussion at home rather than in a hospital or sleep laboratory.
Methods: Seventeen young adults (7 with acute concussion, 10 controls) were recruited for this study. All participants completed two 5-day testing sessions separated by 30 days from intake (controls) or day of injury (concussion). Participants wore actigraphs and kept a sleep journal. Sleep parameter outcomes included nighttime total sleep time (nTST), 24-h total sleep time (TST), wake after sleep onset (WASO), and sleep efficiency (SE). The coefficient of variation (CV) for each sleep parameter was computed for each session.
Results: nTST and TST CV was significantly greater in the concussion group. There is the additional indication that individuals with a concussion may require and obtain more sleep shortly after injury and subsequently have a shorter duration of sleep at 1 mo post-injury. This pattern was not seen in the measures of sleep quality (WASO, SE).
Conclusions: Individuals with a concussion demonstrated increased nighttime sleep duration variability. This increase persisted at 1 mo post-injury and may be associated with previously documented self-reports of poor sleep quality lasting months and years after a concussion. Additionally, this increase may predispose individuals to numerous negative health outcomes if left untreated.
Keywords: actigraph; concussion; sleep duration; sleep quality.
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