Many people will hit their head and not be able to sleep for a while afterward. This is because the brain needs time to recover from the injury, which could make it difficult for your body to slow down enough so you can fall asleep.
The biggest question that looms over people’s heads when they can’t sleep after head injury is: am I safe?
You’ve probably heard horror stories about this. People who went to sleep after a concussion who never woke up. The issue was that, while the injured were sleeping, the doctors and family couldn’t notice potential alarm bells like seizures.
It’s important that you don’t worry, though. Panic helped no one to live better. There are some things that help with this type of situation.
In this article, we are going to analyze the potential risks of sleeping after hitting your head. We’ll also see some strategies you can employ to minimize these risks.
Sleeping Helps Us Heal…or Does it?
While we sleep, our body repairs itself. And so does our brain. In fact, sleep speeds up brain recovery.
When you sleep, your body can fix itself. It can help you feel better when your head hurts. This is because your body releases chemicals whose aim is to heal us.
So, what can we do? We’ve established that sleeping helps us heal our bodies and recover from injuries faster. However, with the risks involved in going directly to sleep after hitting your head, what should we do?
You can go to bed just fine. Except if you’re having seizures, you can’t walk, or you have blurred vision. If you can function normally, you can sleep however much you please after a concussion.
But what if you felt one of the above conditions, and must absolutely sleep?
Then it’s best to contact your physician. They’ll most likely advise you to get someone to wake you up twice while you sleep.
Editor’s note: myths say you need someone to wake you up every hour. That’s an exaggeration. You only need to wake up twice over 8 hours. It’s more than enough to feel well rested and not risk any serious consequence.
Safety Issues of Sleeping after a Concussion
Sleeping after hitting your head carries potentially fatal consequences. If you’re unsure about your conditions, get a doctor to see you. It’s always better to stay safe. Head concussions are a serious thing.
You probably know that sleeping after a concussion is not recommended, but it’s always good to have some scientific background about this issue.
Most doctors will advise you against going straight to sleep if you’ve hit your head hard enough for symptoms like nausea and dizziness. The problem with concussions isn’t the symptoms themselves; as we mentioned before, it’s the potential triggers.
Concussions carry a lot of risk because it can bring about seizures and other conditions that make sleeping dangerous. You don’t want to hit your head again, or damage something else while you’re not aware of what’s going on around you.
It might be difficult to stay awake for several hours after hitting your head, but it’s better than the consequences.
Here’s a list of the biggest risks you could incur in by sleeping after a concussion.
The most common one is when people go to sleep and never wake up again because they suffered a seizure with no one realizing it.
Seizures are not always easy for other people to detect, especially with nighttime seizures that happen while you’re sleeping. This means that if you’ve got epilepsy, it’s important to let your family know about this. If they don’t know, the risk of someone not waking up again because of a seizure is increased significantly.
Having seizures while sleeping increases your chances of dying, since you’re in an unconscious state where nobody can see what’s going on with you.
There are certain factors that influence how likely you are to die from a seizure while sleeping. One of these is age. Another one is genetics and whether someone in your family has epilepsy (if they do, chances of dying after night seizures increase significantly).
This can happen if someone has a concussion and they’re sleeping in an awkward position, with their neck twisted. This can cut off the oxygen supply to the brain, which will lead to coma or even death, depending on how long your body was deprived of breathing properly.
Head injuries might halt regular body functions. Luckily, there are obvious symptoms of not enough oxygen reaching your brain, such as feeling dizzy, talking nonsense, or suddenly passing out.
Your brain can swell from a head injury, and it’s not pretty. The pressure in your skull will increase dramatically, which leads to intracranial hypertension, a condition that is fatal if untreated quickly enough (it’s one reason doctors always want to make sure you wake up when you have a concussion).
Sometimes, brain swelling can be effectively treated. In others, it will lead to death if the person is not woken up right away and given help in time (for example, by using osmotic diuretics which reduce intracranial pressure through urine elimination).
If your head hurts, it’s never a good idea to just go to sleep. You can take precautions such as drinking lots of water and trying not to fall asleep for several hours after the injury. There are also some tips on how you should position yourself when sleeping so that there is less chance of brain swelling because of your neck being in an unnatural position.
Damaging the brain after a concussion is something that happens in over half of all cases. There are some risks involved with going to sleep, especially if you’ve experienced nausea and dizziness after hitting your head hard enough for symptoms like these.
If you have not been diagnosed with any conditions related to this by a doctor yet, wait a few hours before going to sleep. If the head injuries are too severe, though, it’s best not to risk it and simply go straight to see your physician instead of trying to stay awake for several hours by yourself.
This is another risk that people face when they fall asleep after head injury. While sleeping, your brain swells up. If you have swelling somewhere in the head after hitting it, this means that there’s a chance of “intracerebral bleeding.”
Intracerebral bleeding happens when one or more blood vessels burst inside the cranial cavity and bleed into surrounding tissue. This can cause death for three reasons:
If the blood accumulates in one spot, it can lead to compression on other parts of the brain.
Otherwise, an increased intracranial pressure will affect the functioning of your nervous system and heart rate, which could ultimately mean death for you.
Finally, bleeding into surrounding tissue also causes an infection that might be difficult to treat if someone is not in the hospital.
Death due to brain bleeding is very rare after a concussion luckily.
The most common cause of death related to head injuries such as concussions are pulmonary embolisms, which can happen when small pieces of clots break off and travel through the bloodstream until they reach your lungs. This usually happens because you’re lying in an awkward position that prevents the blood from flowing normally through your veins.
Strategies to Minimize Risks of Sleeping after a Concussion
There are some things you can do so you minimize risks while sleeping after hitting your head.
- First, try not to sleep on anything hard or with sharp corners near where you’re sleeping.
- If you’re at home and don’t have a couch or bed with soft edges, try to sleep on the floor rather than on an uncomfortable surface that can put pressure on your head during rest.
- Using extra pillows under your neck is also not recommended because this might lead to airway obstruction, which could cause suffocation if something goes wrong.
- If you have to sleep on your back, try to use a pillow that holds up the head so airways stay clear and fluid can flow normally.
People who are at an increased risk of dying during recovery after hurting their heads should only rest in positions where they’re facing upwards towards gravity because this way there’s no pressure being put on the neck.
Sleeping in a sitting position can also reduce risks because it lowers the chance of airways obstructions.
How to Tell if Sleeping is Safe after a Head Injury
One of the most reliable ways to tell if you’re ready for sleep after concussions is by checking whether your symptoms are gone.
If you were hit in the head and had problems such as blurred vision, seizures, headaches, dizziness, or memory loss, then it’s important that these issues stop before you go to sleep.
If they don’t, there’s a risk of your symptoms becoming worse, which might turn into permanent damage if something goes wrong during recovery from a head injury, such as concussions.
Some people think that sleeping can worsen headaches or other problems associated with concussions but this is not the case in most cases after an accident.
If you are still having problems with your vision, for example, there’s a chance that this will become worse during sleep if the head is not properly positioned. This can happen because of increased pressure on certain parts of the brain, which might lead to death sometimes.
Sleeping after concussions should be avoided when you have serious injuries such as fractures in the skull or a bleed in your brain.
It’s important to check whether your symptoms have disappeared before going to sleep and use pillows so airways stay open during rest at night.
Sleeping while lying face up is not recommended if you have serious injuries such as fractures or brain bleeds because this might cause problems with breathing during rest.
Make sure that sections, where you’re resting your head, are soft and that there are no sharp objects near you at night.
Don’t sleep on hard surfaces, use pillows to keep the neck in a safe position, and only lie down when all symptoms associated with hitting your head have disappeared.
If you cannot sleep in a sitting position because of back problems, for example, try to find another way of resting your body while avoiding putting pressure on the neck.
Sleeping while face-up is a bad idea if you have fractures or brain bleeds and injuries to the skull should be avoided as well because this can lead to breathing problems during rest.
Head concussions are dangerous. They can get out of control and cause permanent damage. Though most of them won’t, it’s still best to safeguard yourself against the risks they carry.
In most cases, you can sleep just fine after a head concussion. As long as you can function normally, you aren’t at any risk. It’s normal to feel a headache after a concussion, but if that’s all you’re feeling, sleeping is perfectly safe.
Still, having someone check on you now and then while you’re sleeping is better. You don’t know how your body will react to the concussion. It depends on what area of your head got injured. Our brain is divided into areas that deal with specific functions. One operates our memory, another our motion, and so on. For example. If the motion side has been damaged, it’s possible your body will move randomly, especially if the damage is recent.
Also Read: How Does Sleep Apnea Impact the Brain?