An old wives' tale, and strongly held dogma, maintains that one should be kept awake after a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) to prevent a coma. This, however, conflicts with the known benefits of sleep: repair and restoration. We therefore sought to examine the effects of sleep deprivation (SD) in the post-traumatic sleep period on post-concussion symptomology (PCS). Adolescent male and female rats were administered repetitive mTBIs (RmTBI) or sham injuries and were then assigned to 5 h of SD or left undisturbed. All animals were then tested using seven behavioral tasks validated to examine PCS, followed by analysis of serum cytokines, and quantitative real-time PCR for messenger RNA (mRNA) expression. Exposure to 3 SD epochs significantly impaired behavior in 4 of 7 of the measures, while RmTBI also produced dysfunction in 5 of 7 tests, but the effects of SD and RmTBI were not cumulative. SD induced long-lasting changes in serum levels of Tnf-α, IL6, and IL-1ß. mRNA expression in the pre-frontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex was modified in response to SD and RmTBI; but similar to the behavioral measures, the mRNA changes were not cumulative. Consequently, we report that SD often produced impairments similar or worse than RmTBI, and sleep hygiene should become a priority for adolescent health.
- anterior cingulate cortex
- pre-frontal cortex