There are some complications related to a concussion which makes people wonder if it is okay to sleep after a concussion. Follow this article to know the connection between sleep with a concussion and the reason why you can’t sleep after a concussion.
A traumatic internal brain injury is called a concussion which is usually caused by a blow on the head when it is hit by an external force. There have been many myths related to concussions, and one such myth includes that a person should stay awake after a concussion. Therefore, many people are not sure if they should stay awake or sleep and what the reasons are attached to the connection between sleep and concussion.
Many people believe that going to sleep after a concussion can lead to coma or death, and that is why one should stay awake for at least several hours. If the person falls asleep, he is woken several times so that he does not lose consciousness. There has not been any scientific evidence affirming this myth.
Sleep does not cause any problems, and the connection between sleep and concussion is covered in this article. It also answers why can’t you sleep after a concussion. Read this article to know what are the dangerous symptoms of concussion and what a person should do after a concussion.
Table of Contents
What is a concussion?
When a sudden blow in the brain occurs and disturbs the normal functionality of the human brain, it is called a concussion. It is an injury in the brain, and the function is disturbed for a shorter time period. It can occur as a result of mental trauma or mechanical force due to an accident or falling. In concussion, the consciousness of the human brain is not completely lost, and even in some cases, external signs of injury or bleeding are also absent.
However, it can affect a person’s memory, speech, balance of the body, muscle coordination, and speech which is why people with concussions go through a dazed feeling and a brief forgetfulness.
Although it is a sudden disturbance of brain functionality, a concussion is not considered normal and needs medical treatment. The neurosurgeons suggest treatments based on the intensity of the concussion, as some are severe injuries having adverse effects while some are less serious that have comparatively lesser effects. People who train such people due to temporary forgetfulness help the person by asking questions related to them such as name, where they are and what they are doing etc.
In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion soon after the first one does not have to be very strong for its effects to be permanently disabling.
Symptoms of concussion
A concussion occurs when an external force is exerted on the head. This can be a result of falling, hitting, or any other accident. After the head gets hit by an external force, it moves inside the skill and makes it bounce as the brain chemicals get disrupted. Hence, it gets difficult for the neurons to transmit messages and communicate with each other.
Most concussions are not considered life-threatening, but even if it is mild or severe, one should consult professional help. It temporarily changes the mental status of the brain, but it has some symptoms that can help one identify concussion:
- Loss of memory
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
- Mood swings
What to do after a concussion?
One should make sure that the concussion gets recovered as soon as possible hence rest is required to help the brain heal. Every individual’s brain reacts differently to a concussion and requires a different rest period. Therefore, a caretaker should be there with you to monitor your symptoms and make sure you are getting proper rest.
It usually takes a few days or a couple of weeks to completely recover from a concussion and get rid of symptoms, but in some cases, the symptoms can last longer than a couple of weeks. This condition of prolonged concussion is called “post-concussion syndrome”. Post-concussion syndrome is most apparent in people who have been through concussions before. Concussion symptoms in this condition can last for a few months. The symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disturbed sensory neurons, sleep disturbance, and disturbing memory.
In the initial days of the concussion, you should avoid physically and mentally draining activities. Avoid activities that increase the risk of another concussion, as the second concussion can do more damage than the first one. The risk of concussion is not only limited to sports activities but also to people who drive and travel in vehicles, so one should avoid driving and traveling in vehicles until you are allowed by your doctor to do so.
Moreover, in the healing process, you can make sure that you are getting enough rest and that your diet is healthy. A healthy diet includes avoidance of alcohol and other drugs so that your immune system makes it faster for your brain to recover. In case of severe headaches, you should not take any over-the-counter medication before talking to your doctor first. Medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin that people usually take for headaches can increase the risk of brain bleeding.
Head injury and concussion
When a force is exerted on our head, the human skull and its cushioning, called cerebrospinal fluid, protect the brain from penetrating trauma, but if the force is of high intensity, then it becomes unable to absorb the impact of it. Any violent contact to the head or a rapid deceleration reaches the inner side of the skull and harms the inside area, such as blood vessels, bruising of the brain, and pulling of nerve fibers.
This can cause minor or severe damage to the brain area. It can lead to severe cases where the brain tissues begin to swell since the skull area restricts the swelling and affects the functionality of the blood vessels. As a result of which blood does not flow properly and the brain is unable to receive the required oxygen and glucose. This increases the risk of brain stroke and other severe injuries such as contusion, hematoma, or skull fracture.
A contusion is a bruise of the brain tissue that swells the brain and causes intense bleeding, whereas a skull fracture refers to the breaking of the skull bone. Hematoma refers to the conjugated blood clot around the brain, which enlarges with active bleeding. Mild hematomas go undetected as they do not have any evident symptoms, but they can cause severe surgical emergencies, which take weeks to get treated with medical attention.
Every individual deals with a concussion in a unique way, so every individual has a different recovery timeframe. The decision of a player returning back to practice and an individual returning back to normal activities is made by the physician who manages protocols for concussion. He analyzes the concussion after the diagnosis and carries out daily monitoring.
He checks whether the patient has any history of concussion or has been exposed to the risk of it before. Moreover, the health history of the family is also considered to plan out treatment in accordance with it. This gives him a complete picture of his health so the treatment plan is more effective. The patient is expected to follow the recommended steps and is expected to make linear progress in some days.
Direct communication between the medical staff and the patient is an essential part of the recovery process. The progress is tracked by the doctor with follow-up appointments to make sure that the activities in the current step are carried out without any occurrence of symptoms.
He is asked to avoid all kinds of physical exertions and rest completely in the initial days. The use of any electronic gadgets and socialization is also cut down so that he comes back to his baseline level of symptoms. Moreover, he is asked to practice some suitable aerobics exercises daily under the supervision of a health professional. If the patient is able to tolerate those aerobic exercises, then the physical can further add strength training exercises in his practice sessions.
Players are given extra protocol by their respective management so that each player is able to heal at his own rate. They are gradually diverted to their respective fields’ activities and finally made it fit to resume their normal activities after testing their neurocognitive ability to make sure that there is no recurrence of concussion symptoms. This works as a green signal for him, and he is then considered eligible to participate in the team practice and game sessions.
If the player has any history of concussion, then the protocol considers the expertise of both the neurological consultants and team physicians. The assessment of all the concussions is noted to make further decisions for the player.
Symptoms of a brain injury
Some serious brain injuries can have visible effects on the brain. These visible effects are as follows:
- Loss of senses: Sensory neurons do not work properly, so the person can feel difficulty in seeing, hearing, or tasting. Moreover, there is constant dizziness that will make you feel tired and sleepy.
- Cognitive inability: The brain does not function in a proper manner in any situation, so there is a change in cognitive ability. This further shortens the attention span of the brain and makes it difficult for the person to understand any given information and memorize it.
- Motor dysfunction: The movement and body function are affected as a result of which one can not coordinate his body balance.
- Speech difficulty: Along with difficulty in understanding the conversation, one struggles to find the right word and convey the message through words. Hence, there is a risk of speech abnormalities.
- Pain: Pain is the most immediate symptom, as a person can feel constant or recurring headaches.
Prevention of head injury
To ensure that one prevents concussion and severe head injury, it is important that precautionary measures are taken to avoid any violent force on the brain, which is mostly a result of an accident. People in vehicles and sports are at a greater risk of head injuries and concussions, so they should use helmets or headgear. The sports players of cycling, hockey, football, skiing, wrestling, baseball, and skateboarding should wear their safety helmets. Moreover, people indulging in other physical activities, including martial arts, should also make sure that their headgears are worn.
The rules of every sport should be properly followed as the rules are made to ensure the safety and discipline of the game, including the appropriate clothing and safety checks. Moreover, an ill person should not be allowed to participate in any sports. Younger children should not be left unsupervised if they are performing any sports activity or are using any sporting equipment.
The risk of head injury and concussion is not only restricted to sports players but also to other people, as blows to the head can occur due to normal daily activities such as falling, hitting, or an accident in a vehicle. Hence, some of the basic precautions that everyone needs to follow are as follows:
- Everyone should wear seat belts when they are riding or driving any motor vehicle. Make sure
- One should never drive under the influence of alcohol or drug.
- If there are any hazards in the house that increase the risk of falling, they should be removed.
- Houses should have secure rugs, loose electrical cords, safety gates, and grab bars for elderly people who are at a higher risk of falling.
- Toys or any other objects that can make the floor slippery and contribute to falls should be put away.
Can concussions cause sleep problems?
It has been widely misinterpreted that one should not sleep with a concussion because there is a risk that one can slip into a coma or die. Therefore, many people with concussions avoid sleeping for some hours after a concussion. This is a myth that sleeping after a concussion can worsen your symptoms. On the contrary, the patient should be allowed to sleep as good sleep can provide rest to the bed and help with a speedy recovery.
It is common for a person to feel dizzy after a concussion as he feels tired, so it is the most common and evident symptom of a concussion. Other symptoms take longer to show up. However, there are some people who find it difficult to fall asleep after a concussion which is why their recovery time exceeds as their rest time recedes. They may also wake up in the middle of sleep frequently.
It is advised for children who suffer from concussions to wake up in sleep and make sure that their consciousness is not lost or worse and that they are not having any issues with walking. This check-up should not be a constant disturbance to their rest as waking someone up can affect the healing process. Hence, the check should be on their breathing process and ensuring that they are sleeping peacefully. If any abnormality in their sleep is detected in the middle of the sleep, then the person should be woken up immediately.
As it is not an internal injury, the doctor, in their treatment process, suggests the patient sleep and rest. If it is a severe case, then the doctor can advise further medical attention after analyzing the patient. The symptoms that signal the severity of the concussion are called red-flag symptoms. Some of the red-flag symptoms include loss of consciousness, vomiting, and inability to walk. If you do not have any red-flag symptoms, the concussion is mild and can be treated at home with proper rest and sleep.
Is it normal to be sleepy after a concussion?
Yes, People going through concussions feel dizzy and tired compared to other people, so they tend to sleep more. Some people also take brief naps throughout the day. Concussions can also make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. These sleep problems depend on the intensity of the concussion as every individual’s body reacts differently to a condition.
The healing process of injury takes up to a few weeks. These sleeping issues heal along with the healing of an injury.
Scared to sleep after a concussion?
There is no harm in sleep if you have a mild concussion, as the rest fastens the healing process. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your sleep pattern is not abnormal or disturbed:
- Make sure that your sleep duration is not short because the recovery phase requires a human to sleep more compared to other people, so you should consult your doctor about your rest and make sure that you are getting the recommended amount of sleep.
- Make yourself relaxed before you go to the bed so that your head is not busting with continuous tension. You can try some relaxing activities before you hit your bed such as taking a shower, listening to relaxing music, or meditating.
- Set a fixed schedule so that your sleep pattern is not irregular. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you delay either of these, you can struggle to sleep the next day.
- The environment where you sleep plays an important role in your sleep quality, so make sure that your bedroom is quiet and dark. Moreover, your bed and pillow should be comfortable enough to relax your mind and body.
- Avoid using any screen or electronics at least one hour before your bedtime as screen light can make it difficult for your mind to sleep.
- Do not take any unnecessary naps unless you are advised by the doctor. Naps can also make it difficult for your mind to sleep at a fixed time.
When to seek medical help?
In case of any severe head injury or hard blow to the head, one should get it checked by a medical professional, especially if he has had concussions before. He will check the symptoms and if the symptoms are mild, then he will be asked to get medical care according to the recommendation of your regular healthcare provider. If the symptoms are serious, then the doctor will suggest emergency treatment. These symptoms include:
- Have severe head pain
- Feeling dizzy and unable to recognize the surrounding
- Consistent vomit
- Have trouble staying awake
- Loss of consciousness
- Have one pupil larger than the other
- Have seizures
- Impaired cognition
- Trouble in speech
Health experts suggest that there is no need to stay awake after a concussion, and one should get maximum rest to heal faster. However, the person after a concussion should not be left unmonitored, so there should be a person accompanying him to wake him up once in his sleep to check the symptoms and consciousness.
It will help you identify the intensity of the concussion, as a mild concussion does not cause any harmful effects, but a severe case can lead to life-threatening complications. In either case, it is recommended to get it checked by a doctor so that he can decrease the risk of any complications.