Sleeping with a Concussion

concussion MRI

Suppose your sports-minded child just came home from a game of soccer with a concussion, and tells you that he or she is tired and wants to go to bed to sleep. But you’re not sure if it’s okay to be sleeping with a concussion. So, should you let your son or daughter go to sleep shortly after receiving a concussion?

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), getting plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day is an important treatment for recovering from a concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussion can result from a jarring (big movement) of the brain in any direction that causes its victim to lose consciousness and alertness. The severity of the concussion, which is a minor traumatic brain injury, may depend on how long the concussion sufferer remains unconscious. While concussions are most often heard about in relation to contact sport activities, they can also occur as a result of a car accident or a slip and fall. A concussion can result from a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head or upper body.

It’s important to realize though that not all concussions involve a loss of consciousness. Sometimes an adult or child will experience a concussion without “passing out” or even realizing that he or she received a concussion. At other times, an individual may lose consciousness, but may complain of “seeing stars”, whether white or black.

symptoms of a concussion

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

The symptoms of a concussion vary depending on the severity, which may range from mild (grade 1) to moderate (grade 2) to severe (grade 3). Concussion symptoms, which are typically temporary, can include:

  • Acting confused
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Headache
  • Waking difficulty
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seeing stars or flashing lights
  • Memory difficulties or amnesia
  • Judgment and balance problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to noise and light

Concussions incurred in infants and toddlers may be more difficult to recognize because they can’t tell you their symptoms. However, non-verbal indications, such as tiring easily, being cranky or irritable, having temper tantrums, listlessness, disinterest in a beloved toy, unsteady walking, or change in sleeping are often clues that the child has a concussion.

Extremely severe signs of concussion that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unequal pupils or unusual movements of the eye
  • Consciousness or alertness changes
  • Confusion that is persistent
  • Vomiting repeatedly
  • Muscles weakness on either or both sides
  • Problems walking

Treatment

As mentioned in the introduction, concussion sufferers are generally recommended rest, which includes getting plenty of quality sleep at night. According to the Mayo Clinic, rest is the ideal way to give the brain the ability to heal and recover, and both WebMD and the CDC, recommend getting plenty of sleep. Other things you can do, is to take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen, depending on your doctor’s orders. While recovering from a concussion, it’s important to avoid activities that 1) require a lot of physical assertion and 2) require significant concentration.

Concussion Recovery Time

Some people recover from a mild concussion in a few others, while recovery from a moderate to severe concussion may take weeks, or even months. Fortunately, most people fully recover from a concussion.

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