Clinical observations report excessive sleepiness immediately following traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, there is a lack of experimental evidence to support or refute the benefit of sleep following a brain injury. The aim of this study is to investigate acute post-traumatic sleep.


Sham, mild or moderate diffuse TBI was induced by midline fluid percussion injury (mFPI) in male C57BL/6J mice at 9:00 or 21:00 to evaluate injury-induced sleep behavior at sleep and wake onset, respectively. Sleep profiles were measured post-injury using a non-invasive, piezoelectric cage system. In separate cohorts of mice, inflammatory cytokines in the neocortex were quantified by immunoassay, and microglial activation was visualized by immunohistochemistry.


Immediately after diffuse TBI, quantitative measures of sleep were characterized by a significant increase in sleep (>50%) for the first 6 hours post-injury, resulting from increases in sleep bout length, compared to sham. Acute post-traumatic sleep increased significantly independent of injury severity and time of injury (9:00 vs 21:00). The pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β increased in brain-injured mice compared to sham over the first 9 hours post-injury. Iba-1 positive microglia were evident in brain-injured cortex at 6 hours post-injury.


Post-traumatic sleep occurs for up to 6 hours after diffuse brain injury in the mouse regardless of injury severity or time of day. The temporal profile of secondary injury cascades may be driving the significant increase in post-traumatic sleep and contribute to the natural course of recovery through cellular repair.

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Published in PLoS ONE, v. issue 1, no. e82507.

© 2014 Rowe et al.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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