[en] From a behavioral as well as neurobiological point of view, sleep and consciousness are intimately connected. A better understanding of sleep cycles and sleep architecture of patients suffering from disorders of consciousness (DOC) might therefore improve the clinical care for these patients as well as our understanding of the neural correlations of consciousness. Defining sleep in severely brain-injured patients is however problematic as both their electrophysiological and sleep patterns differ in many ways from healthy individuals. This paper discusses the concepts involved in the study of sleep of patients suffering from DOC and critically assesses the applicability of standard sleep criteria in these patients.
<br /><br />The available literature on comatose and vegetative states as well as that on locked-in and related states following traumatic or non-traumatic severe brain injury will be reviewed. A wide spectrum of sleep disturbances ranging from almost normal patterns to severe loss and architecture disorganization are reported in cases of DOC and some patterns correlate with diagnosis and prognosis. At the present time the interactions of sleep and consciousness in brain-injured patients are a little studied subject but, the authors suggest, a potentially very interesting field of research.
Centre de Recherches du Cyclotron - CRC
Austrian Science Fund Erwin-Schrödinger Fellowship J2470-B02 ; European Commission (DISCOS and Mindbridge), ; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS ; Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture (Communauté française de Belgique) - FRIA ; McDonnell Foundation ; Mind Science Foundation ; Reine Elisabeth Medical Foundation