Weighing In On Insomnia

Sleep is crucial for humans to survive and thrive.  “Emerging evidence implicates sleep in the most basic of neurological functions, namely the exchange of metabolic wastes associated with neurological homeostasis…  sleep is integral in the function of the glymphatic system… Natural sleep or anesthesia accounts for an increase in interstitial space that facilitates the subsequent exchange of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with interstitial fluid.”  All people have been told to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.  While this number is actually higher for the young, 7-8 hours is the recommended hours of sleep needed for those 18 and up.  For those with brain injuries, an energized brain is necessary to perform at their best.  However, about 30 to 70 percent of those with brain injuries have sleep disorders including deprivation, deficiency, disruption, etc.  (Although fatigue may be the most obvious side effect of a sleep disorder, “the consequences of disrupted sleep following injury range from deranged metabolomics and blood brain barrier compromise to altered neuroplasticity and degeneration.”)

The above links are all from government studies into brain injury and sleep disorders.  While they may be interesting and informative, methods of curing these sleep disorders are what really matter to those afflicted with them.  So far, many means to induce sleep and reduce the activity of a restless mind have been explored and written about, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, the use of activities, etc.

My advice is to read the results of these studies while you’re in bed, using one of the recommended sleep aids: a weighted blanket.  Weighted blankets have gained popularity in the past few years.  So named because the weight of the blanket equals about 10 percent of the user’s weight, the extra weight that this blanket provides the user is soothing, rather than encapsulating.  They are a form of deep pressure touch stimulation, which can help with one of the more common symptoms of TBI, anxiety, among other things.  (I am not promoting weighted blankets more than cognitive behavior therapy or any other means of ridding one’s self of a sleep disorder, I’m just on the search for a new sleep strategy.)

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