Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with persistent sleep-wake dysfunction, including insomnia and circadian rhythm disruption, which can exacerbate functional outcomes including mood, pain, and quality of life. Present therapies to treat sleep-wake disturbances in those with TBI (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) are limited by marginal efficacy, poor patient acceptability, and/or high patient/provider burden. Thus, this study aimed to assess the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of morning bright light therapy, to improve sleep in Veterans with TBI (NCT03578003). Thirty-three Veterans with history of TBI were prospectively enrolled in a single-arm, open-label intervention using a lightbox (~10,000 lux at the eye) for 60-minutes every morning for 4-weeks. Pre- and post-intervention outcomes included questionnaires related to sleep, mood, TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and pain; wrist actigraphy as a proxy for objective sleep; and blood-based biomarkers related to TBI/sleep. The protocol was rated favorably by ~75% of participants, with adherence to the lightbox and actigraphy being ~87% and 97%, respectively. Post-intervention improvements were observed in self-reported symptoms related to insomnia, mood, and pain; actigraphy-derived measures of sleep; and blood-based biomarkers related to peripheral inflammatory balance. The severity of comorbid PTSD was a significant positive predictor of response to treatment. Morning bright light therapy is a feasible and acceptable intervention that shows preliminary efficacy to treat disrupted sleep in Veterans with TBI. A full-scale randomized, placebo-controlled study with longitudinal follow-up is warranted to assess the efficacy of morning bright light therapy to improve sleep, biomarkers, and other TBI related symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas