A concussion, or a mild traumatic brain injury, is the movement of your brain in the cranial cavity. Although the brain is well protected by the skull, there is nothing preventing your brain from moving within the cranium. This movement, along with any injuries from the brain's contact with the skull can result in a concussion.
A concussion is an injury that results in feelings of nausea or vomiting, brief lapses in consciousness or memory, sensitivity to light and sound, among other symptoms. Keep reading to find out how this type of injury can impact your sleep.
Before knowing whether or not a concussion will impact your sleep, or vice versa, it's important to know if you even have a concussion. A concussion can develop after a head trauma or a whiplash injury. Anything that could potentially cause the movement of your brain inside of your head can lead to the development of a concussion.
Common symptoms of a concussion include the following:
- ringing in the ears
- fatigue or drowsiness
- blurry vision
- slurred speech
- dazed appearance
- concencentration and memory complaints
If you are experiencing any of these after hitting your head and experiencing an abrupt forward then backward motion (as seen in whiplash injuries) then it may be a good option to visit a physician or nurse to get a concussion diagnosis.
Sleeping after a concussion
It is a long-held belief that sleeping after a concussion is dangerous and shouldn't be done. Family members and practitioners felt that if you went to sleep, then you could slip into coma or death. Sleeping will not cause you to experience any adverse health events. The main problem with sleeping is that it doesn't allow you to be monitored for changes in brain status or seizures.
If you are experiencing a severe concussion, it is essential to see a healthcare provider before deciding to go to sleep. If you are not experiencing severe concussion symptoms and are able to carry on a conversation, maintain consciousness, and your pupils are not dilated, then sleep is very important for you.
In fact, sleep and rest has been shown to be very effective, especially in the beginning stages of an injury. After you've been cleared by a healthcare provider, it's important to rest in a dark room with very little stimulation until your symptoms start to subside.
How concussions might affect your sleep
If you are experiencing concussion symptoms, then you may find yourself feeling more tired than normal. If you have to take brief naps throughout the day, or you start experiencing insomnia, then those may be normal symptoms of a concussion.
Secondary insomnia, insomnia caused by another underlying injury, means that you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and you have excess fatigue during the day. These symptoms generally improve as your symptoms improve, but if you're still having trouble, here are some things to help you improve your sleep:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule
- Get at minimum the recommended amount of sleep
- Relax before bed with quiet activities
- Sleep in a dark and quiet room
- Avoid the use to electronics or bright lights
- Avoid naps if possible
If you are still having trouble with sleep, you can reach out to your healthcare provider, or click the orange button below for a free online sleep test.
Other recovery tips
As you are getting rest and recovering from your concussion, there may be other ways to help alleviate some of the symptoms of your concussion so you can get better sleep.
Taking a break from electronics and other demanding activities, like school or work, can help your brain recover. In the first 24 hours, you may want to avoid activities like television or video games, computer use, homework, or reading.
Another tip is to avoid certain medications. Medications with aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen could lead to increased risk of brain bleed if you have a severe concussion. Tylenol is the safer option for pain. Make sure to take it easy before diving right in to doing anything strenuous.