Brain Injuries Tied to Sleep Difficulties Due to Melatonin Reduction

by Tanya Thomas on  May 25, 2010 at 3:42 PM Research News   - G J E 4
People with brain injuries may produce low amounts of melatonin, which affects their sleep, according to a study published in the May 25, 2010, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
 Brain Injuries Tied to Sleep Difficulties Due to Melatonin Reduction
Brain Injuries Tied to Sleep Difficulties Due to Melatonin Reduction

For the study, 23 people who had a severe traumatic brain injury an average of 14 months earlier and 23 healthy people of the same age spent two nights in a sleep laboratory.

"We've known that people often have problems with sleep after a brain injury, but we haven't known much about the exact causes of these problems," said study author Shantha Rajaratnam, PhD, of Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

The healthy people produced more melatonin than the people with brain injuries in the evening hours, when melatonin levels are supposed to rise to signal sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates biological rhythms, including sleep.

"These results suggest that the brain injury may disrupt the brain structures that regulate sleep, including the production of melatonin," Rajaratnam said. "Future studies should examine whether taking supplemental melatonin can improve sleep in people with brain injuries."

The people with brain injuries had other differences in their sleep patterns. They spent less of their time in bed actually asleep than the healthy participants did, or a "sleep efficiency" percentage of 82 compared to 90 for the healthy group. They also spent more time awake after initially falling asleep, or an average of 62 minutes per night compared to 27 minutes for the healthy group.

In addition, the people with brain injuries spent more time in non-REM sleep, in a stage of sleep called slow-wake sleep or deep sleep. Those with brain injuries spent an average of 24 percent of their time in slow-wake sleep, compared to 20 percent of the time for healthy participants.

Those with brain injuries also had more symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, the researchers calculated the results to control for the anxiety and depression symptoms and still found differences in sleep patterns.

Source: Eurekalert

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INDEED!! In Dec. 2003 I was severely beaten with horrible blows to the left side of my head and ear. Sleeping was awful. It took more than two years before someone suggested melatonin, instead of the "drugs" the doctors were giving me to sleep. It is WONDERFUL. I tried last year to stop taking it and of course immediately went back to waking up within a few hours.

Neither my parents nor grandparents ever had trouble sleeping at night [although the grands would keep us all awake with their snoring!!].

Someone should extend the study to understand, if it's common, why it's SO hard to go back to sleep as well. Before that at times I'd woken up at night but NEVER had such a problem getting back to sleep.

At least this makes me feel better to know I'm not alone!

Perumula Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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