How Long After A Concussion Can You Sleep? What Will Happen
It has long been believed that a concussed individual shouldn’t sleep because they could lose consciousness or fall into a coma if they do. We now know there is no need to force a patient with a concussion to stay awake. So, how long after a concussion can you sleep?
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What Is A Concussion?
Traumatic brain damage includes concussions (TBI). Your brain moves abruptly inside your skull and can actually twist or bounce about when you receive a blow to the head from a fall, a hit, or being flung back and forth in a car accident.
This form of damage can stretch and alter neurons (types of brain cells), modify them, and cause abnormalities in the neurotransmitters that allow your neurons to communicate less effectively.
What Occurs After A Concussion?
A concussion is a kind of traumatic brain injury that typically results from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
Strong physical force that causes the head and brain to move back and forth quickly can also result in a concussion. The brain may rotate or bounce around inside the skull as a result of this sudden movement.
The CDC further explains that a concussion can cause chemical changes in the brain and can even stretch and harm brain cells.
Because they typically do not pose a threat to life, medical professionals frequently refer to concussions as a “mild” form of brain injury. Although they may last for weeks or even months, concussion symptoms can be extremely unpleasant.
What To Do After A Concussion?
Rest is crucial after a concussion because it promotes brain recovery. When a baby or young child suffers from a concussion, their parents or other caregivers need to keep an eye on them and make sure they are getting enough sleep.
Adults who have suffered a concussion should make sure that another adult is present to keep them company and keep track of their symptoms and recovery.
While recovering from a concussion, a person should:
Try to avoid “powering through” the symptoms as much as you can by getting plenty of rest.
Whenever possible, stay away from strenuous activities.
Whenever possible, stay away from activities like sports that could cause another concussion.
Till a medical professional deems it safe to do so, refrain from operating heavy machinery or driving a car.
Alcohol and any illegal drugs should not be used as they can hinder recovery.
Avoid using electronics like TVs, video game consoles, and cellphones excessively.
Can A Concussed Person Sleep?
Throughout their recovery, a person with a concussion needs to be watched over if it has been suspected or proven.
Following a head injury, if a person drifts off to sleep, they may not wake up with potential brain injury symptoms, and neither may those around them. For this reason, medical professionals used to suggest that patients remain awake while experiencing a concussion.
However, modern imaging techniques give medical professionals the ability to look for any physical indications of head trauma. Additionally, they are able to more easily monitor patients thanks to modern medical equipment.
They now concur that it is safe for people to sleep after suffering a concussion.
What Sleep Effects Can Concussions Have?
Depending on the individual, sleep disturbances after a concussion may vary, and they are not always a sign of the type or severity of the concussion. After a concussion, between 30% and 80% of people experience sleep issues of some kind.
It’s typical to feel extremely sleepy and take extra naps in the first week following a concussion6, followed by difficulty falling asleep. If you have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up early and are unable to fall back asleep, you may continue to feel exhausted during the day. After a concussion, daytime sleepiness could also be the result of a problem with the mechanisms that control your sleep-wake cycle, making you feel sleepy at odd times. It’s possible that you notice a change in your sleep pattern.
Damage to the neurons that regulate the sleep-wake cycle may be a direct cause of the sleep disturbances associated with concussions. Furthermore, after a concussion, some people spend longer in restorative deep sleep while producing less melatonin, the sleep hormone.
If you’ve had a concussion in the past, you’re more likely to have trouble sleeping after one8. Due to their still-developing brains, children9 may be particularly susceptible to sleep issues after a concussion.
Some people experience insomnia, circadian rhythm problems, and sleep apnea after a concussion. People who have suffered a concussion frequently experience headaches or chronic pain, which may cause them to toss and turn throughout the night.
Even though the symptoms of a concussion can change over time, if you don’t give yourself enough time to recover before going back to work or school, insomnia may persist for more than a year. Inability to get a good night’s rest could hinder healing.
Why Does A Concussion Cause Severe Sleep Problems?
We don’t want to overlook a situation that could endanger our lives (e.g., intracranial hemorrhage or cerebral edema) because our athlete slept through it.
A set of “rules” will be taken into account by your physician, athletic trainer, or concussion specialist on the sidelines or in the emergency room to decide whether a head CT is required. These are the New Orleans criteria and the Canadian CT Head Rule. The Candian CT Head Rule is likely superior and includes:
- Glasgow Coma Score <15 after 2hrs
- Suspected skull facture
- Signs of basal skull fracture
- Two or more episodes of vomiting
- 65yo or older
- Memory loss before the impact by more than 30min
- Dangerous injury mechanism
How Soon After A Concussion Can You Sleep?
The concern about sleeping after you get a concussion comes from the belief that while you are asleep, you could slip into a coma or die. Not only is it impossible for anyone to notice symptoms of severe brain damage while you’re sleeping, but sleeping itself cannot cause those things to occur.
The best course of action is probably to seek medical attention before going to bed for the night, even though sleeping isn’t necessarily dangerous. By doing so, you’ll be able to determine whether you have a concussion or if something more serious may be going on.
If a person who may have suffered a concussion is awake, able to hold a conversation, and not exhibiting concussion symptoms like dilated pupils or difficulty walking, some doctors advise letting them fall asleep.
Some people advise having them examined before letting them sleep, while others advise checking on them several times throughout the night to make sure they are breathing normally without having to wake them up.
How To Get Rest After A Concussion?
After a concussion, you should get plenty of rest because sleep is crucial to the recovery process. The most typical concussion symptoms, however, are sleep issues, followed by headaches.
If you have sleep issues that linger after the first few days of healing, you may want to try the following to get better sleep:
- Even on days off, stick to your routine.
- Establish a bedtime routine that calms you down.
- Avoid caffeine, particularly in the evening.
- Electronics should not be used in the bedroom or right before bed.
- Be sure to discuss your sleep issues with your doctor if they don’t go away a few weeks after the concussion.
- Sleep each night for at least eight hours.
- When it’s time for bed, if you’re not tired, do something soothing.
- Avoid naps or keep them brief and early in the day to prevent disruptions to your ability to sleep that night.
When To See Your Doctor?
Consult a doctor right away if you experience concussion symptoms after getting hurt. It’s crucial to seek medical help right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: stiff neck, difficulty with consciousness, worsening headache that won’t go away, repeated vomiting, difficulty speaking or moving, weakness, confusion, seizures, double vision, odd behavior, or fluid leaking from the ears or nose.
Additionally, if your symptoms worsen or if, a week after the concussion, you still don’t feel fully recovered, you should consult your doctor. Although it is common to have lingering symptoms that last for months, the majority of people notice a significant improvement in symptoms within ten days to a month.
Your healthcare professional might ask you to complete a sleep questionnaire, take a test, or keep a sleep diary depending on your sleep symptoms. It is best to regularly see your doctor so they can keep track of any changes in your sleeping habits and provide you with personalized sleep management advice.
Your doctor might recommend a sleep specialist to you if you have persistent problems or problems that could be signs of a sleep disorder17. A sleep expert will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan and perform more complex tests. Typically, they adhere to any sleep disorder you might have recommended treatment protocols.
Today, medical professionals concur that staying awake after a concussion is not necessary. However, it’s crucial to check on a concussed person several times throughout the night to make sure their symptoms are not getting worse.
A coma or death is not brought on by a concussion. Nevertheless, the concussion’s underlying head injury may have significant, even fatal, side effects.
Anyone who exhibits concussion symptoms must receive medical attention for this reason.