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Aim

The aim of this study was to review the basic aspects of sleep disturbance in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Method

A search was performed on reports of sleep disturbances in children who had suffered TBI. Adults with TBI were also considered to anticipate the nature and significance of such disturbances in younger patients. Types of reported sleep disturbance were noted and their possible aetiology and management considered.

Results

Sleep disturbance has consistently been associated with TBI but the literature suggests that this aspect of patient care is often inadequately considered and there has been little research on the subject, especially in relation to children. Excessive daytime sleepiness is often mentioned, less so insomnia and parasomnias, but there is little information about the specific sleep disorders underlying these problems.

Interpretation

Sleep disorders with potentially important developmental consequences have been neglected in the care of children with TBI. Screening for sleep problems should be routine and followed, if indicated, by a detailed diagnosis of the child's underlying specific sleep disorder, the possible aetiology of which includes neuropathology and potential medical, psychological, or psychiatric comorbidities. Appropriate assessments and modern treatment options are now well defined although generally underutilized. Further well-designed research is needed for which guidelines are available.