Understand Concussions: Symptoms, How to Sleep, and When to Contact a Doctor

Last updated: September 8th, 2023

What Are Concussions?

A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury. After a concussion, people can experience a range of symptoms, including dizziness, confusion, headaches, and sleep difficulties. It is important to recognize that a concussion is a serious medical injury — if you think you or someone you know may have a concussion, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Is It Safe to Sleep With a Concussion?

Generally, both adults and children can safely sleep after a concussion, once they have visited their doctor or an emergency room. However, it is more difficult to assess a person’s symptoms when they are asleep. In some cases, doctors may recommend that young children or adolescents be woken up every few hours for a few days after a concussion so that their symptoms can be monitored and treatment provided if needed.

How Do Concussions Affect Sleep?

After a concussion, people can experience a range of sleep issues. This can include both problems falling asleep and staying asleep, and changes in the structure of your sleep, such as fragmented sleep and increased napping. A concussion can affect your brain’s ability to regulate your sleep, and it can also cause other symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and fatigue, which can lead to difficulty sleeping or impaired sleep quality.

Signs You May Have a Concussion

Common signs of a concussion include headaches, trouble concentrating, sensitivity to light and noise, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Tips to Sleep Better With a Concussion

An important part of recovering from a concussion is getting enough rest. Here are some tips for improving the quality of your sleep while recovering from a concussion:

  • Get regular exercise: Exercise can help reduce physical fatigue and stress, which can improve sleep quality.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, after midday.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and eating heavy meals before bedtime.
  • Take regular naps and return to a regular sleeping schedule as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool.
  • Talk to your doctor about sleeping aids if needed.

When to Contact Your Doctor

It is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have a concussion. Additionally, if you experience any persistent symptoms, or your symptoms worsen, you should contact your doctor or emergency services right away.

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