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.
You’ve probably heard people who work late night shifts in hospitals, fire stations, restaurants, or on the road protecting our streets talk about how light during the day has a negative impact on their ability to get a decent amount of restful sleep. But, did you know there is a real reason behind it? It’s not merely a preference for darkness that’s robbing them of the recuperative sleep they need in order to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. But why does light have such a profound impact on sleep and what can people who work these necessary late shifts do to get the kind of sleep they need?
Why Does Light Negatively Impact Sleep?
“In the presence of light, your brain will not produce melatonin,” says Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, Sleep Specialist: On the surface that doesn’t seem like such a profoundly negative thing. However, melatonin is one of the vital hormones that plays a significant role in helping people not only fall asleep but also to remain asleep throughout the night. If a room has too much light, that makes things much more difficult for anyone looking to get a proper amount of sleep.
Sleep, aside from food and water, is one of the most important things the body needs in order to repair itself, recover from injuries, and prepare to face the day. People who have difficulty sleeping or are unable to get an adequate amount of sleep will often find their communication ability, critical thinking, and even mobility are impaired—especially those who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation.
Are you getting enough sleep? Do you wake up feeling well-rested most mornings, or do you find yourself hitting the snooze button a few too many times once morning rolls around?
What if You’re Too Tired to Sleep?
Believe it or not, some people feel so tired and yet are unable to fall asleep. Any parent who has gone through the terrible two’s knows what it’s like to have a little one fighting sleep. The child is sleepy, it’s past nap time or bed time, and the child is struggling, fighting, wailing, and crying—anything to keep from going to sleep.
When you’re overly tired, sleep can be incredibly elusive leaving you feeling as frustrated as an overstimulated child fighting sleep. Your body is screaming for sleep, but your mind simply won’t shut off and let it happen.
Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon that has been well documented over the past centuries. It’s a term that is used to describe the act of dreaming while being aware that you’re dreaming. In other words, dreams that feel real. In some instances the dreamer can even control the dream to some degree in order to determine its outcome or influence what takes place within the dream.
According to Edward Bixler of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, who is a professor of psychology specializing in electrophysiology of sleep and sleep disorders, lucid dreams are what happens “when a person recognizes he or she is dreaming while in a dreaming state and often manipulates the events within the dream.” This is far from remembering those oh-so-elusive details of dreams after you’ve awakened in the morning.
The average person feels a little jagged around the edges as a result of a sleepless night or even a night when the quality of sleep was less than optimal. However, a recent study conducted by the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley has revealed that “people who are highly anxious may actually be more vulnerable” to serious anxiety issues in the aftermath of a sleepless night.
The University of California, Berkeley study scanned the brains of 18 adults (who were all in good health) on two different occasions. One was after an ordinary night’s worth of sleep and the other after a night where they were deprived of sleep. During each session, subjects were exposed to a period of prolonged anticipation of a potentially negative experience. Those who experienced sleep deprivation the night before had reactions that were significantly stronger than those who had enjoyed a more restful sleep on the previous evening. In some cases, primarily for those predisposed to anxiety, the reaction was amplified by as much as 60 percent.
Which Comes First, Anxiety or Sleep Issues?
Once upon a time it was well understood that chronic anxiety can do a real number on your ability to sleep. For a long time, it was believed that sleep problems were simply side effects of anxiety disorder. However, new research indicates that sleep deprivation can actually be the cause of an anxiety disorder. Research also indicates that patients suffering from almost any psychiatric disorder also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. People who suffer from chronic insomnia are at a much greater risk of developing some type of anxiety disorder.
You’ve probably heard, more than once, that sleep is vital for the growth of healthy children. The scientific community has known for a long time that the hours while the body is sleeping are not idle hours where it literally turns itself off. These are hours when the body is performing critical functions that help children grow. But why is it so important for children?
The Importance of Sleep for Children
Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and graduate of John Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard University, provides important insight as to why age factors into the need for more sleep:
“Sleep is a critical ingredient to good growth, and the amount of sleep we need depends upon our age,” says Dr. Natterson. “Little babies, newborns, and infants get somewhere around 16 hours of sleep for every 24 hours, give or take. Toddlers need about 14 hours of sleep in every 24 hours.”
There’s just so much going on during those hours of sleep that the body cannot accomplish during waking hours.
It’s a busy world we live in today. Thanks to advancements in technology, we seem to be always connected. Add that to the stress of dealing with a demanding job, worrying about our children or aging parents, or concern over a health condition either for ourselves and a loved one, and there’s no surprise that some of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some tool that could relax our minds and let go of our stress and worries to fall into a peaceful deep sleep? Well there is, and it’s called guided imagery.
What is Guided Imagery for Sleep?
Have you ever “counted sheep” to help you to fall asleep? If so, you were practicing guided imagery without even knowing it. In a nutshell, guided imagery is a relaxation technique where one’s thoughts are purposely redirected through imagination and visualization to achieve a desired goal. While this goal is commonly to help with falling asleep, it’s also used to help adults cope with a serious health condition, such as cancer, manage stress, depression, pain, and anxiety. It’s also a helpful technique for children, particularly in helping to chase away their fears.
Benefits of Guided Imagery for Sleep
Using guided imagery for sleep disturbances can help both adults and children alike find a soothing, relaxing, and comforting way to drift off to sleep. As a directed form of visualization, guided imagery is based on the thought that the body and mind are connected. By tapping into one’s own imagination, guided imagery can relax oneself into a soothing slumber.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as the “winter blues” in its milder form, impacts roughly half a million individuals each winter, according to Mental Health America. This disorder makes its presence during the months of September through April, but peaks during the winter months of December, January, and February.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
One of the hallmark signs of seasonal affective disorder is winter sleep disturbances. Among feedback from nearly 300 SAD patients, complaints of excessive oversleeping, termed hypersomnia, were made by 80 percent of the respondents, according to a study by researchers at Brigham’s and Women’s Hospital.
Aside from winter sleep hypersomnia, other symptoms of SAD include:
- excessive morning grogginess (difficulty waking up)
- difficulty staying awake
- carbohydrates cravings
- lack of energy and feeling of lethargy and fatigue
- withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
- decreased sex drive
- weight gain
- difficulty concentrating on tasks
- not completing tasks
- feeling depressed