Sleep disorders are highly prevalent in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can significantly impair cognitive rehabilitation. No proven therapies exist to mitigate the neurocognitive consequences of TBI. We show that mild brain injury in mice causes a persistent inability to maintain wakefulness and decreases orexin neuron activation during wakefulness. We gave mice a dietary supplement of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), precursors for de novo glutamate synthesis in the brain. BCAA therapy reinstated activation of orexin neurons and improved wake deficits in mice with mild brain injury. Our data suggest that dietary BCAA intervention, acting in part through orexin, can ameliorate injury-induced sleep disturbances and may facilitate cognitive rehabilitation after brain injury.
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