With the sudden deaths of Bob Saget, Super Bowl stars, and elite Olympians, there has been a lot of talk about concussions. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. This can be the result of a fall, car accident, sports injury, or other physical trauma. After a concussion, you are likely to experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, or drowsiness.
People who have sustained a head injury often question whether they can sleep with a concussion. It can be challenging to know what to do after you suffer a concussion, especially if you want to get some rest. In this blog post, we will discuss the answer to this question and offer some tips on how to get better sleep if you have a concussion.
Is it safe to sleep with a concussion?
There is some debate over whether or not it is safe to sleep with a concussion. On the one hand, there is potential to worsen the injury if you are not careful. On the other hand, many people find that sleeping helps them recover from their concussions. Most doctors will recommend that you should not sleep within the first 24 hours.
Depending on the severity of the concussion, you have a few options. Doctors advise that if you are going to sleep with a concussion, it is essential to have a family member, roommate, or partner periodically check up on you. After waking a concussed person, it is important to do some quick tests to ensure no signs of a worsening condition. These tests can be anything from asking simple questions or shining a light to see if pupils are the same size and responsive to light.
However, continuous waking up can be disruptive to sleep. Therefore, some doctors also recommend that a family member sleep alongside a concussed person in case they need something, but not to wake them up.
Why can't you sleep after a concussion?
Sleep problems are one of the most common symptoms following a concussion. Studies have shown that up to 80% of people who suffer from a concussion experience some type of sleep disturbance. These disturbances can include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless sleep.
There are several ways that a concussion can affect sleep. One way is that concussions can cause increased fatigue and tiredness. This is because when you have a concussion, your brain is spending a lot of your body’s energy on healing itself. Which can make people more fatigued than usual. Concussions can also disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to problems falling asleep and staying asleep. Additionally, the symptoms of a concussion can often disrupt normal activities, which can cause people to be less active, which can also lead to fatigue.
Sleeping After a Concussion
If you are experiencing sleep problems following a concussion, there are several things that you can do to help improve your sleep and sleep safely. One thing that you can do is to take steps to reduce the amount of light and noise in your bedroom before going to bed. This includes turning off all lights, unplugging any electronics and putting away any screens (e.g., TV or computer). You should also try to make sure that no loud noises can be heard from outside your bedroom, such as music or traffic. Decreasing exposure to these things during the day may also help to improve symptoms.
You should avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and in general within the first 6 weeks of a concussion. Caffeine can keep you up for hours after drinking it, and alcohol can make it difficult to stay asleep. Make sure that your head and neck are adequately supported in bed. This will help to reduce the risk of further injury. Finally, try not to stress about your sleep problems, this will only make them worse. Focus on relaxing activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath, or doing some light stretching in bed (no inversions!). It might be tempting to read a book, but that can put too much strain on your brain in the early weeks of healing.
Another thing that you can do is go to bed at the same time every night. This will help your body get used to sleeping when it needs rest most, and it also helps keep your circadian rhythm (body clock) in sync with daylight hours so that you're more likely to sleep during dark periods of day/night cycles instead of being awake.
One thing you can practice at bedtime that may help to decrease stress and improve sleep is CBT. CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is many times recommended by neurologists to patients post concussion. CBT practice allows you to take ownership of your body’s feelings, reactions, and responses, and in time can lessen symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Some of our favorite CBT exercises are:
Daily check-ins, ask yourself how do you feel today? What is making you feel this way? And any other notes you might want to add to expand on the feelings. Gratitude journal, take a moment to note or write down three things you are grateful for today. Deep breathing, take 5+ deep breaths, focus only on your breath, try to do this at least 4 times a day. Hugs, hugs are extremely important, and can help calm our nervous system when we are stressed or anxious. Even if you don’t have someone around to give you a hug, you can always hug yourself, your body can’t tell the difference!
If you are still having trouble sleeping after trying these tips, be sure to speak with your doctor about getting the best sleep possible following a concussion.
Should I sleep after a concussion?
Sleeping is vital for overall health and wellness, so it's important to ensure that you're getting enough rest even if you're dealing with concussion symptoms. Once you have been given the all-clear by a doctor to sleep, make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Recovery time for concussions can vary, so following your doctor's instructions is crucial in ensuring that you are back to your old self as soon as possible.
To conclude, can you sleep with a concussion? The answer is yes, but it's not recommended within the first 24hrs. It is extremely important to rest and let your brain heal if you have a concussion. Sleeping can help you recover, but be sure to take all the necessary precautions to ensure a good night's sleep. If you're feeling uncomfortable or have any questions, be sure to consult a medical professional.