Traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims often experience problems with sleep as a result of changes to their brain function. A person could suffer with a sleep disorder like insomnia, excessive sleepiness during the day, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and narcolepsy. Sleep disorders often makes the challenges faced by brain injury sufferers even worse. Fortunately there are ways a TBI victim can manage his sleep disorder.
Ways TBI Victims May Be Able to Improve Their Sleep
Physical and chemical changes in the brain, medications, pain, and depression are a few of the causes of sleep problems for people suffering from TBI. However, there are things a person can do during the daytime to help manage this problem. While you should consult a doctor to address serious sleep disorders, the following techniques may help:
- Set an alarm and get up at the same time every day.
- Schedule meaningful activities daily.
- Get off the couch and limit watching TV.
- Exercise daily.
- Get outside daily in the sun when possible.
- Limit daytime naps to no more than 20 minutes.
It is also important for TBI victims with sleep problems to establish routines at night. These can include the following:
- Going to bed at the same time.
- Having a bedtime routine, like getting clothes ready for the next day, reading, or listening to music for 10 minutes before going to sleep.
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar for five hours before bedtime.
- Refraining from eating right before going to bed, but being sure to eat enough earlier so as not to wake up hungry.
- Avoiding exercising for two hours before bedtime. Stretching or meditation during those two hours could help with sleep.
- Avoiding eating, reading, or watching TV in bed.
- Limiting smart phone or e-reader use at night as the light from these screens can disrupt production of sleep hormones.
If these behavioral strategies do not ease a TBI victim’s sleep issues, he or she may need more serious therapies or medication. Lack of sleep or the inability to stay awake can further complicate the already difficult life of a TBI sufferer.