Concussions are a type of mild traumatic brain injury that can occur from a blow to the head or body, causing the brain to move rapidly within the skull. Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. In this article, we’ll explore how concussions affect sleep and what steps can be taken to improve sleep quality after a concussion, including whether it’s safe to sleep with a concussion and how long one should sleep with a concussion.
How Concussions Affect Sleep
Concussions can significantly impact sleep quality, both in the short term and long term. Many people who have sustained a concussion experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:
- Changes in brain activity: Concussions can cause changes in brain activity that disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
- Pain: Headaches and other types of pain are common after a concussion, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Anxiety and depression: Concussions can cause emotional changes, such as anxiety and depression, which can also impact sleep quality.
- Medications: Some medications prescribed to treat concussion symptoms can cause drowsiness or sleep disturbances.
Is It Safe To Sleep With a Concussion?
One of the most common questions people ask after sustaining a concussion is whether it’s safe to sleep. While there’s no simple answer to this question, most medical experts agree that it’s generally safe to sleep with a concussion. In fact, sleep is often recommended as a way to help the brain heal after an injury.
Sleep is an essential part of the body’s natural healing process and plays a crucial role in recovering from a concussion. Promoting restful sleep during concussion recovery is essential for promoting healing, preventing the development of post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and improving cognitive function and emotional well-being. By establishing a regular sleep routine, creating a relaxing sleep environment, practicing relaxation techniques, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and talking to a health care provider, it’s possible to promote restful sleep and support the healing process after a concussion.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a person loses consciousness after sustaining a concussion, they should be closely monitored for several hours after regaining consciousness to ensure that their condition doesn’t deteriorate. In some cases, a health care provider may recommend that the person be kept awake for a short period of time after regaining consciousness to ensure that their brain function remains stable.
How Long Should One Sleep With a Concussion?
The amount of sleep that a person needs after sustaining a concussion can vary depending on the injury’s severity and their individual needs. Some people may need more sleep than others to feel rested and allow the brain to heal.
In general, health care providers recommend that people with concussions get plenty of rest and sleep in the days and weeks after their injury. This may mean taking frequent naps during the day or sleeping for longer periods at night. It’s important to listen to your body and get the amount of sleep that feels right for you.
The Importance of Sleep in Concussion Recovery
During sleep, the body produces hormones that promote tissue repair and cell regeneration. These hormones, including growth hormones and melatonin, are essential for the body’s natural healing process. Sleep is also essential for cognitive function and emotional well-being, both of which can be impacted by a concussion.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair cognitive function, particularly in the areas of attention, memory, and reaction time. These cognitive deficits can be particularly problematic for individuals recovering from a concussion, as they may experience difficulty with concentration, memory, and decision-making.
In addition to cognitive function, sleep also plays a crucial role in emotional well-being. A lack of sleep can contribute to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, which can be common after a concussion. Sleep disturbances can also contribute to the development of PCS, a condition that can cause such ongoing symptoms as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Is It Dangerous To Sleep With a Concussion?
While it’s generally safe to sleep with a concussion, there are some potential risks to be aware of. One of the main concerns is the risk of developing a more severe condition known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This can occur when a person sustains a blow to the head or experiences a sudden jolt that causes the brain to move within the skull. Symptoms of TBI can include seizures, loss of consciousness, and severe cognitive impairment.
To minimize the risk of developing a TBI, it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms after sustaining a concussion:
- Loss of consciousness.
- Severe headache.
- Slurred speech.
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Persistent confusion or disorientation.
In addition to the risk of developing a TBI, there’s also some evidence to suggest that sleeping on your back after sustaining a concussion may increase the risk of developing PCS. To reduce the risk of developing PCS, health care providers often recommend that people with concussions sleep on their side or stomach instead of their back. This can help to improve blood flow to the brain and reduce the risk of developing complications.
Although it’s generally safe to sleep with a concussion, there are some potential risks to be aware of. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above after sustaining a concussion, it’s important to seek medical attention right away to ensure that you receive appropriate treatment. In addition, it’s important to listen to your body and get plenty of rest and sleep in the days and weeks after your injury to promote healing and prevent complications.
Here at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights, Illinois, we provide a range of services for children, young adults, and their families, including help with concussion treatment. To find out more, call our friendly team at 847-558-7151 or complete the secure online form on our contact page.