Why Can’t You Sleep With a Concussion?

Imagine this: you’ve had a head injury, perhaps a concussion, and all you want to do is rest and sleep off the effects. But wait, you’ve been told you shouldn’t sleep with a concussion. It’s a perplexing situation, leaving you wondering, “Why can’t you sleep with a concussion?”

In this article, we’ll unravel the mysteries behind this cautionary advice and explore the reasons why sleep may need to be approached with caution after a head injury. From the impact of a concussion on your brain’s delicate balance to the potential risks of certain sleep stages, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of sleep and recovery. Whether you’re currently navigating the challenges of a concussion or simply curious about the intricacies of brain health, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive into the realm of concussions, embrace the healing power of rest, and discover the reasons why you might need to approach sleep with caution after a head injury.

Understanding Concussions: Causes, Symptoms, and Effects

concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or even a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Think of it like your brain shaking inside your skull. Quite the jolt, right?

As for symptoms, they can be subtle and not immediately apparent. Some people may have a concussion and not even realize it! Symptoms can include:

  • headaches
  • confusion
  • lack of coordination
  • memory loss
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • ringing in the ears
  • sleepiness, and
  • excessive fatigue.

There’s a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, and they’re not always linked to the severity of the initial injury.

The effects of a concussion can be short-term or long-lasting, depending on the individual and the severity of the concussion. Most people fully recover with appropriate treatment and enough rest. However, it’s important to remember that each concussion makes the brain more susceptible to further injury, so taking precautions to avoid concussions is critical.

Why Can’t You Sleep With a Concussion?

Ah, the old adage “don’t sleep after a concussion”—a bit of a medical myth, let’s clear that up.

There’s a commonly held belief that someone with a concussion shouldn’t sleep out of fear that they may fall into a coma and not wake up. The truth is somewhat different. After a concussion, medical professionals often recommend plenty of rest, which includes sleep. Sleep is when your brain does the heavy lifting to repair itself, so it’s crucial in the recovery process.

However, here’s the key part – before hitting the sack, it’s important that the person with the suspected concussion gets checked out by a healthcare provider. This is because more severe brain injuries can initially appear like mild concussions, and falling asleep could be dangerous.

So, to reiterate: you can, and should, sleep after a concussion—after a medical professional has evaluated you. The real danger lies in not getting proper medical attention after the injury. Concussions aren’t just a bump on the head; they’re brain injuries and should be treated as such. Always prioritize getting the right help and then focus on getting plenty of rest and sleep for recovery.

How Long After You Hit Your Head Should You Wait to Sleep?

The important thing to remember is that it’s not so much about the length of time you should wait to sleep but rather about the severity of the injury and whether you’ve had it evaluated by a medical professional.

If you’ve had a mild bump and you’re not showing any signs of a concussion, such as dizziness, confusion, headache, vomiting, or difficulty walking, then it’s likely safe to sleep when you feel tired. However, seeking medical attention is crucial if you’ve hit your head hard enough to cause a concussion or more severe brain injury.

These cases can be serious and require a healthcare provider to examine and determine the injury’s severity. After a professional evaluation and ruling out any serious injury, they recommend a short period of wakeful rest (a few hours, for example), during which someone should check on you periodically. But sleep is generally beneficial once that period has passed and you’re not experiencing any worsening symptoms.

Sleeping a Lot After Concussion: What It Means

Has your bed become your new best friend after a concussion?

Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sleeping a lot after a concussion is quite common, and there’s a good reason for it. You see, your brain has experienced a trauma, and just like any other part of your body that’s been injured, it needs time to heal.

Sleep is the prime time for your brain to get busy with repairs. During these quiet hours, your brain can focus on healing without the outside world’s distractions. Plus, sleep helps to restore energy and reduce fatigue, both of which are common post-concussion symptoms.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should be sleeping all the time. If you’re finding that you’re excessively tired and want to sleep far more than usual, or if your desire to sleep is paired with other concerning symptoms, you must inform your healthcare provider.

There is such a thing as too much sleep, which can be a sign that your brain is struggling to recover from the injury. Excessive sleep, changes in mood, persistent headaches, dizziness, or confusion are all signs that you should reach out to a medical professional. In the end, the key is balance: you want enough sleep to promote healing, but not so much that it interferes with your daily life or indicates a more serious problem.

Should I Wake My Child Up After a Concussion?

As a parent, nothing can be quite as nerve-wracking as navigating through the aftermath of your child’s concussion. One common question that arises is whether you should wake your child up after they’ve sustained such an injury. While it’s understandable to be worried about your child sleeping after a concussion, the idea that they must be woken up every few hours is largely a myth.

Most healthcare professionals today agree that sleep is incredibly beneficial following a concussion. As mentioned earlier, sleep is when the brain does most of its healing, so it’s important to let your child get plenty of rest.

However, it’s also essential to monitor their symptoms closely in the initial hours following the injury. If your child exhibits signs such as worsening headaches, vomiting, increased confusion, seizures, or difficulty recognizing people or places, these could be signs of a more severe brain injury, and immediate medical attention should be sought.

Once a healthcare professional has examined your child and a serious injury has been ruled out, let them sleep! In fact, it encourages rest and sleep as it plays a crucial role in their recovery.

What Is Post-concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder that involves a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, that persist for weeks or even months after the concussion injury has occurred.

While the exact cause of PCS isn’t fully understood, it’s not necessarily linked to the severity of the initial injury. It seems more related to various physical, psychological, and social factors.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent symptoms after a concussion, it’s essential to reach out to a healthcare professional. They can help devise an individualized treatment plan. This plan often involves targeted therapies for specific symptoms — think physical therapy for balance problems, cognitive therapy for memory issues, or medication for headaches. Moreover, pacing oneself and getting plenty of rest and sleep are vital in managing PCS.

And always remember, while PCS can be a challenging and frustrating condition to deal with, the majority of people do recover with time and appropriate treatment. Patience, my friends, is key here.

Post-Concussion Syndrome and Insomnia

When insomnia tags along, it feels like a cruel extra. Sleep problems are indeed common with PCS, often because the brain’s normal sleep regulation can be disrupted. However, don’t lose heart; there are strategies you can employ to get some much-needed shut-eye.

First, establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. It helps regulate your body’s internal clock and improves sleep quality. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Create a bedtime routine that signals your brain that it’s time to wind down. It might include reading a book, listening to soothing music, or having a warm (but not hot) bath.

Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, computers, and TVs can interfere with your sleep. If you can’t avoid screens, consider using a blue light filter or wearing blue light-blocking glasses.

Physical activity can help, but be sure to finish exercising at least a few hours before bedtime. Too close to sleep could rev you up instead of calming you down. Also, be cautious with food and drink. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.

Finally, remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a sleep specialist may be worthwhile if insomnia continues struggling. They might recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is a structured program that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep.

While sleep struggles can be incredibly frustrating, know you’re not alone, and resources and strategies are available to help.

Sweet dreams!