Subacute sleep disturbance in moderate to severe traumatic brain injury: a systematic review

Bianca Fedele, Gavin Williams, Dean McKenzie, Edwina Sutherland, John Olver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective: This systematic review evaluated subacute sleep disturbance following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the impact of secondary factors such as mood or pain. Methods: A comprehensive search strategy was applied to nine databases. Inclusion criteria included: adults ≥18 years, moderate and severe TBI and within 3 months of injury. Eligible studies were critically appraised using the McMaster Quantitative Critical Review Form. Study characteristics, outcomes, and methodological quality were synthesized. This systematic review was registered with PROSPERO (Registration number: CRD42018087799). Results: Ten studies were included. Research identified early-onset sleep disturbances; characterized as fragmented sleep periods and difficulty initiating sleep. Alterations to sleep architecture (e.g. rapid eye movement sleep) were reported. Sleep disturbance appears to associate with alterations of consciousness. Sleep disturbance tended to be particularly increased during the phase of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) (78.7%). Conclusions: There is a limited amount of research available, which has inherent measurement and sample size limitations. The gold standard for measuring sleep (polysomnography) was rarely utilized, which may affect the detection of sleep disturbance and sleep architecture. Secondary factors potentially influencing sleep were generally not reported. Further evaluation on associations between sleep and PTA is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-327
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2020


  • post-traumatic amnesia
  • sleep disturbance
  • subacute care
  • Traumatic brain injury

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