Bright light improves sleep after brain injury

A large proportion of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) - the kind of brain injuries caused by an impact to the head - experience disturbed sleep. As well as the usual day-to-day benefits, quality sleep is especially important to this group because sleep also helps the brain's plasticity, its ability to store and re-organise information.

In an abstract recently presented at an annual meeting for sleep medicine and research (see p.259), a group of 18 individuals with TBI had tried bright blue-wavelength bright light therapy each morning for six weeks. The treatment had a number of benefits ranging from improved sleep and better concentration and participants reported feeling more awake during the day and scored better on standard depression questionnaires.

Maureen Weber, a psychiatrist involved in the study, said “Improving sleep following mild traumatic brain injury could prove critical to maximizing recovery from the injury” and she also highlighted the fact that it was simple to use and has no side-effects as important considerations for potential use. Further studies are planned with larger numbers.

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