A new study suggests that individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may develop problems with sleeping. According to research, this is because individuals who suffer from brain injuries produce lower amounts of melatonin than the average individual.
During a recent study, researchers performed sleep research experiments on a control group of 23 healthy individuals. During the study, the healthy individuals spent two nights in a sleep laboratory. The study also included 23 patients who suffered from TBI. The study on the TBI individuals was conducted about of 14 months earlier.
The researchers found that people with TBI produced less melatonin than the control group. They had less sleep efficiency, meaning that they spent more time in non-REM sleep. In addition, the TBI patients reported higher instances of depression and anxiety.
“We’ve known that people often have problems with sleep after brain injury, but we haven’t known much about the exact causes of these problems. These results suggest that the brain injury may disrupt the brain structures that regulate sleep, including production of melatonin,” says researcher Shantha Rajaratnam, PhD, of Monash University in Victoria, Australia.
According to the authors of the recent study, there are some common complaints among people with TBI such as insomnia, hyper somnolence and altered sleep-wake cycles. The authors also found that it is possible for sleep issues to lead to depression rather than depression leading to sleep problems, which has previously been the conventional wisdom on the matter.
Melatonin is an important hormone. It is made by the pineal gland, which helps control a person’s sleep and wake cycles. The hormone helps your body distinguish between day and night. Melatonin is what makes you feel tired when it gets dark and awakens you when the sun comes up. It has been shown that melatonin levels begin to rise in the evening and remain high for most of the night. The levels usually fall during the morning hours.
Since light affects how much melatonin your body produces, the body has been known to produce melatonin either earlier or later than usual during the shorter days of the winter months. This can lead to what is known as winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Melatonin levels commonly recede slowly as people age. Older adults are said to produce very low levels of melatonin, if they produce any at all. People who suffer from blindness are said to produce less melatonin as well.
Rajaratnam noted that further studies need to be conducted in order to reveal whether or not taking melatonin supplements can improve sleep in people with TBI. In the mean time, these patients will struggle with sleep difficulties, depression and anxiety.
If you or someone you love is suffering from TBI due to the fault of another, it is important to learn more about your rights. Sleep problems, depression and anxiety can be costly conditions to treat. The cost of such treatment may be recoverable against the negligent party.