Characterizing Sleep and Wakefulness in the Acute Phase of Concussion in the General Population: A Naturalistic Cohort from the Toronto Concussion Study
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Growing literature links concussion to changes in sleep and wakefulness in humans and in rodent models. Sleep has been linked with synaptic reorganization under other conditions; however, the characterization and role of sleep after acute concussion remains poorly understood. While much research has focused on insomnia among patients with chronic or persistent concussion symptoms, there is limited understanding of sleep and acute concussion, its potential role in recovery, and associated risk factors for the development of chronic sleep disturbance. Studies to date are limited by small sample sizes of primarily athlete or military populations. Additional studies among the general population are critical to inform best practice guidelines. We examined the sleep and daytime wakefulness of 472 adults from a naturalistic general population cohort (mean age, 33.3 years, females = 60.8%) within seven days of diagnosed concussion, using a validated, condition-specific measure, the Sleep and Concussion Questionnaire. Participants identified immediate changes in sleep characterized by hypersomnia and difficulty maintaining daytime wakefulness; 35% considered these changes as moderate to severe and 79% required monitoring or follow-up. Females experienced significantly greater severity of changes in sleep compared with males. Positive correlations between severity of sleep and pain and headache were identified. Differences by sex are an important consideration for early intervention and long-term monitoring. Because sleep was compromised by pain, pain management is also an integral part of early intervention. Our findings suggest that assessment of sleep beginning in the acute stage is a critical component of concussion management in the general population.