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Severe Burns and Sleep Disturbance (part I)

Severe burns such as second degree burns and third degree burns can affect any aspect of the patient’s life, one of these aspects is sleep. Sleep disturbance can happen in any stage of burn injury but it’s common immediately after the burn, in the healing process and in the recovery process. About half of the patients who are affected by severe burns suffer from sleep problems and the most common is insomnia. Insomnia can present as difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early in the morning, nightmares and poor quality sleep.

Many causes can lead to sleep disturbance following a burn injury and some of which may have a long lasting effect even after the patient being discharged home.

These causes may include:

  1. Pain.
  2. Itching.
  3. Post traumatic stress disorder.
  4. Stress.
  5. Depression.
  6. Some drugs used in the treatment of the above conditions.
  7. Nightmares and memories of the burn accident.
  8. Breathing difficulty were the breathing passages are affected by the burn injury such as in smoke inhalation injury.
  9. Certain chemicals in the body that regulate sleep can be affected by the burn injury.
  10. Scar tissue can lead to contractures which can restrict movement and affect sleep.

Effect of sleep disturbance on the patient:

Sleep disturbance can have an adverse effect on the patient and the healing process.
It may:

  1. Cause the healing process to be slower.
  2. Worsen pain.
  3. Cause depression.
  4. Cause behavioral changes.
  5. Cause restlessness and energy lack.
  6. Cause concentration problems and increase accidents risk.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.