Sleep Disruption Persists and Relates to Memory Disability After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Cross-Sectional Study of Adults in the Chronic Phase of Injury

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2024 May 14. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000957. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To examine sleep disruption in chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) across 3 aims: (1) to examine differences in self-reported sleep disruption between adults with and without a chronic history of TBI; (2) to query reported changes in sleep after TBI; and (3) to explore the relationship between self-reported sleep disruption and memory failures in daily life.

Setting: Community-dwelling participants completed self-report sleep and memory surveys as part of their participation in a larger patient registry.

Participants: This study included 258 participants, and half (n = 129) of them have a chronic history of moderate-severe TBI (mean time since injury is 5.1 [SD 6.5] years).

Design: We report descriptive statistics from this matched cross-sectional study on sleep in the chronic phase of injury. We also used planned Wilcoxon ranked-sum tests and exploratory correlations to examine the relationships of sleep disruption with TBI diagnosis, injury chronicity, and memory.

Main measures: We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to measure sleep disruption and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to measure daytime sleepiness. Participants answered questions about postinjury sleep and responded to the Everyday Memory Questionnaire as a measure of memory failures in daily life.

Results: Individuals with TBI had significantly higher rates of sleep disruption than those without TBI, as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index but not on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Sleep disruption in TBI manifested more in sleep quality than quantity. Half of the participants with TBI reported a negative change in sleep postinjury. In an exploratory analysis, sleep disruption was related to memory failure in daily life in the TBI sample.

Conclusions: Sleep disruption persists long after TBI but may be under-recognized in people with chronic TBI. Given that sleep is critical for memory and rehabilitation outcomes well into the chronic phase of injury, steps to improve the identification and management of sleep disruption are needed. Key words:chronic, memory, sleep, traumatic brain injury.