Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by impacts to the head. Concussions can occur when people fall, receive a blow, or are shaken. They can affect memory, coordination, balance, and concentration.
More than 2 million people in the United States are diagnosed with TBIs each year. Approximately 300,000 of these head injuries are sports-related incidents, and a majority of them are concussions. Concussions are the most frequent TBIs.
If you have ever had a concussion, you are familiar with the idea that you should not go to sleep after suffering one. But how true is that advice today? Should you avoid sleeping with a concussion, or is sleep good for this type of injury? Keep reading to find out — and learn how SONU Sleep can help you achieve comfortable, pain-free sleep while you recover.
How Do You Know If You Have a Concussion?
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears
A concussed person may have difficulty expressing themselves. Their responses may be delayed, and their speech may be slurred. Some concussed victims lose consciousness temporarily.
For days after the injury, a concussed person may experience disturbed sleep, abnormal taste and smell, and sensitivity to light. They may appear irritable, exhibit signs of depression and memory loss, or be sensitive to light and sound.
Children with concussions experience some of the same symptoms as adults, like irritability, sleep disturbances, and vomiting. However, they may also experience seizures, loss of balance, change in eating habits, and listlessness. Children with concussions may also appear dazed or cry excessively.
Can You Sleep With a Concussion?
It is a common misconception that a person with a concussion should not fall asleep. It was believed that allowing someone with a concussion to fall asleep could lead to them falling into a coma.
This misconception is due to lucid intervals, which occur when someone wakes up after being unconscious but is experiencing brain bleeding. Lucid intervals only occur in a small number of concussion cases.
Today, many medical professionals claim that it is safe for someone with a concussion to fall asleep. In fact, it is sometimes advised for a person with a concussion to get some rest.
However, concussed people typically experience sleep disturbances due to their injuries. These disturbances may include sleeping more or less than usual or having trouble falling asleep. A concussed person might also experience fragmented sleep, where they wake up one or more times per night.
For some people who have had a concussion, their sleep problems may persist for years. One study found that some concussed patients were getting at least one more hour of sleep per night up to 18 months post-accident. Even though these people slept an hour more, they experienced excessive daytime sleepiness.
If a sleep disorder is detected in a TBI victim 18 months after their injury, the victim will likely continue having sleep issues for two years or more. While getting enough sleep is important for the healing of the brain, experiencing excessive sleepiness can put people in danger of accidents or the inability to concentrate on their regular activities.
How Do You Sleep Safely After a Concussion?
Although it’s safe to sleep after experiencing a concussion, some experts recommend waking the victim up every few hours to see if they exhibit any unusual behavior.
However, this leads to disrupted sleep. For this reason, some doctors suggest monitoring the concussed person overnight but not waking them up.
Thirty to 40 percent of concussed people develop sleep issues post-concussion. To sleep safely after a concussion, the victim should adopt a few healthy habits to help them rest.
Some great sleep hygiene practices that promote sleep in concussed people are similar to those for anyone experiencing sleep disturbances. These practices include:
- Sleeping in a dark and cool bedroom
- Putting away electronics and other distractions before bedtime
- Adopting a schedule for waking up and going to sleep
- Avoiding stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help some concussed people get better quality sleep. They could also try listening to calming music like smooth jazz or classical music at bedtime.
Muscle relaxation can also help a concussed person calm down before bed. To do this, they should concentrate on every muscle from those in the face down to the feet, releasing them one by one.
If the person who experienced a concussion continues having trouble falling or staying asleep, they should consult an expert, like a neurologist, to find out if there is an underlying issue.
Sometimes, the type of mattress a person sleeps on is why they aren’t able to get quality sleep. SONU Sleep’s mattresses provide cooling comfort and an immersive Comfort Channel, combined with adjustable pillows that allow sleepers to position their pillows in the best position for optimal sleep.
In the event of a concussion, the concussed person should see a doctor as soon as possible to get advice about sleeping and treatment.
It is no longer considered unsafe to sleep with a concussion unless otherwise noted by a doctor. Concussions are the most common head injury, but the likelihood of a concussed person experiencing bleeding on the brain is slim.
Were you surprised to learn that sleeping after a concussion is actually recommended?
SONU Sleep has the right products to help you safely drift off to dreamland. To learn more about SONU’s negative space mattress, adjustable pillows, and other accessories, check out SONU Sleep today.
Concussion - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
Is It Safe to Sleep After a Concussion? | Cleveland Clinic
How to Safely Sleep with a Concussion | Sleep Foundation
True or False: A Person With a Serious Head Injury or Concussion Should Be Kept Awake | Winchester Hospital
Facts About Concussion and Brain Injury | CDC
A Concussion Can Lead To Sleep Problems That Last For Years: Shots - Health News | NPR
Should you let someone with concussion fall asleep? | BBC
Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes | PMC