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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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A review of sleep research in patients with spinal cord injury

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STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review.

OBJECTIVES: Sleep disturbances are a common complaint among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) and were not usually present before the SCI. Their sleep disturbances, including disrupted sleep, spasms, and problems with initiating and sustaining sleep through the night, affect SCI individuals' overall quality of life due to excessive tiredness and low energy levels during the day. Despite the high prevalence of sleep complaints in this population, current knowledge about sleep in the SCI population has not been systematically assessed.

SETTING: Capital Region of Denmark.

METHODS: We systematically reviewed literature identified from the PubMed and EMBASE databases following PRISMA guidelines.Thirty-seven articles met our inclusion criteria, as only controlled studies were included. This could be a comparison of (1) SCI individuals and able-bodied controls, (2) cervical with thoracolumbar SCI individuals, or (3) cervical, thoracolumbar SCI individuals and able-bodied controls.

RESULTS: Individuals with SCI have a higher prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing and periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS), lower heart rate, but no nocturnal lowering of blood pressure. 24-hour energy expenditure and sleeping metabolic rate were significantly lower, and bowel movements were altered. Endocrine alterations were found in investigations of melatonin, cortisol and antidiuretic hormone. Questionnaires revealed a high prevalence of subjectively poorer sleep quality in individuals with SCI compared with able-bodied controls.

CONCLUSIONS: There are significant differences between groups with SCI and able-bodied controls. SCI objectively and subjectively markedly affects an individual's sleep.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Volume43
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)775-796
ISSN1079-0268
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

ID: 56114179