Factors altering the sleep of burned children

M. Rose, A. Sanford, C. Thomas, M. R. Opp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Although few studies have been conducted on burn patients, they indicate that sleep of burned children is altered. We suggest in this review, on the basis of the limited data available that factors contributing to sleep disruption in burned individuals may be broadly categorized as pathophysiological responses to the injury, the pain and discomfort experienced by the patient and medications used to treat these symptoms, and the physical environment in the Burns Intensive Care Unit. The responses to thermal injury include alterations in circulating neuropeptides, hormones, and immune-active substances, many of which are known to regulate/modulate sleep. Medications for the management of pain and for treating symptoms of various injury-induced stress and anxiety disorders may also alter sleep. Finally, frequent disruptions of the patient by medical staff is but one of the many environmental factors that may contribute to disrupted sleep. Severe burns induce a hypermetabolic response that may result in peripheral wasting, that depletes substrates necessary for tissue repair, and is associated with reduced growth hormone. Burn-induced growth hormone insufficiency is aggressively treated to counteract peripheral wasting and to aid in wound healing of skin graft donor sites. We speculate that improvement of sleep quality would result in a less severe reduction in growth hormone due to the well documented relationship between slow-wave sleep onset and growth hormone secretion. Such improvement in spontaneous growth hormone secretion patterns may aid in recovery by supporting tissue repair and by minimizing the hypermetabolic response to thermal injury. The experiments to test such hypotheses remain to be conducted, yet the results of such experiments may provide the basis for beginning to answer the question of whether or not sleep aids in recovery from injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2001


  • Cytokine
  • Growth hormone
  • Trauma
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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