Dorothee Zuleger, MOT, OTR/L, ATRIC
Friday, October 4th, 2019
Sleep is an extremely important component to achieve optimal brain health and function. Poor sleep has been implicated in affecting heart function, blood sugar regulation and cognitive decline. Good sleep and normal sleep-wake cycles have been linked to improved cognitive recovery following neurologic insult to the brain such as in the case of both traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and parkinson’s. Typically after a neurological insult the normal sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, with the brain injured patient sleeping throughout the night and day with intermittent periods of wakefulness.
A team of researchers at the Hopital du Sacre-Coer in Montreal, studying sleep patterns and brain recovery found that sleep recovery and cognitive recovery happened simultaneously. As the sleep patterns improved so did cognitive recovery. Therefore, the return of a normal sleep-wake cycle, in which the person is awake during the day and has uninterrupted periods of sleep at night, can be an early indication that the brain is beginning to recover.
What can be done to improve the sleep wake cycles?
Interrupted sleep patterns may persist and become a chronic issue following traumatic brain injury. To promote continued recovery and neuroplastic changes it is important to address any sleep issues with your care team; primary care physician, neurologist, or skilled therapist.