Insomnia: A Side Effect of Brain Injury

Woman with insomnia awake with clock behind herWhen surgery goes wrong, an overdose of medication takes place, or any trauma to the brain occurs that causes it to swell and bleed, a traumatic brain injury may be the result. When a brain injury occurs, there are many adverse symptoms that survivors may experience, such as headaches, confusion, tiredness, and more. For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing insomnia, a sleep disorder that can occur after a brain injury.

Many survivors have problems with sleep following a brain injury. Researchers say that even a mild head injury can increase one’s risk of developing a sleep disorder, according to a study published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Although some people with brain injuries have an overwhelming feeling of tiredness and want to sleep all of the time, there are others who are affected in a different way, such as insomnia. And some brain injury survivors have both problems.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder where a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Unfortunately, this type of sleep disorder can be brought on by a brain injury and make other brain injury symptoms worse.

When someone suffers from a lack of sleep, the following brain injury symptoms can be exacerbated:

  • Memory and confusion. When someone isn’t getting enough sleep, his or her memory will be impaired. Someone might have trouble thinking and suffer from other cognitive difficulties. A lack of sleep can also make it harder to learn and retain new information. Unfortunately, one’s memory often gets worse due to lack of sleep.
  • Emotional distress. Not sleeping well can cause depression or anxiety to worsen or increase. When someone isn’t getting enough sleep, he or she can become irritable and emotional.
  • Work performance. Not getting adequate sleep can lead to a poor performance at work. A lack of sleep can cause someone to make mistakes and not do his or her job well, which can put one’s job at risk.
  • Personal relationships. When someone isn’t getting enough sleep, she may be tired and cranky and take it out on the people she loves. Consequently, relationships may suffer.
  • Personal safety. A lack of sleep can dull a person’s awareness. For example, a tired driver can miss a stop sign, fail to see a pedestrian, or fall asleep at the wheel. As a result, a brain injury survivor may have a higher risk of being in a car accident or other type of accident.

Sleep is critical to the healing process. When a brain injury survivor’s sleep is impacted, making a recovery becomes much harder. This is why brain injury victims need to be compensated for every aspect of their lives that have been affected — even their sleep. Because sleep can impact one’s personal and professional life, negligent parties should be held responsible. For help holding a negligent healthcare worker or hospital accountable for their actions, please call us for a free consultation at (703) 591-0067.