Bright Light Therapy Relieves TBI Sleep Problems

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Source: David Goehring

Source: David Goehring

A common treatment for a malady known as seasonal affective disorder may be able to help traumatic brain injury patients with sleep, cognition, emotion, and brain function according to a recent study.

The study claims that six weeks of morning bright light therapy resulted in a 20 percent decrease in daytime sleepiness, which then resulted in improved the ability to fal asleep and night-time sleep quality.

The study also found that bright light therapy relieved depressive symptoms.

“Importantly, the research also shows changes in brain activation during a demanding cognitive task, suggesting that bright light treatment might yield changes in brain functioning,” Mareen Weber, Ph.D., told Psych Central.

The study, published in an online supplement of SLEEP, recruited 18 people with a history of at least one mild TBI and documented sleep problems that were brought on by the most recent brain injury. They then gathered data using Multiple Sleep Latency Tests, sleep diaries, and sensors which measure rest and activity cycles.

The patients also all were put through MRI scans and psychiatric and neuropsychological assessments before and following the bright light therapy.

“Improving sleep following mild traumatic brain injury could prove critical to maximizing recovery from the injury,” Weber said. “Furthermore, bright light therapy is easy and minimally invasive, requiring no medication, and has no known serious side effects.”

It is estimated that 50 percent of people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury deal with sleep disturbances or extreme fatigue after the injury. In my personal concussion recovery I went through a month and a half of not being able to sleep through the night which led to constant fatigue and drowsiness which only worsened my memory problems at the time. It seems bright light therapy may have been a possible solution for my problems at the time.

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