Sleeping After Concussion: Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene

We spend nearly a third of our lives resting in bed, which is vital for our mental and physical health. Sleep recharges us after a long day of strenuous activity. When we haven't gotten enough rest, it impairs our ability to process memories, concentrate, and think clearly. Maintaining good sleep hygiene is a vital part of our health.

It can be difficult to sleep after a concussion. Your body needs rest to recover from this mild traumatic brain injury, yet the symptoms disrupt your sleep patterns. You may have trouble staying asleep or sleeping less than usual. If you struggle with trying to sleep, you are not alone. Many people report sleeping problems after a concussion. A part of concussion management comes with minimizing these disruptive symptoms.

After a concussion, getting enough rest is critical. You should practice good sleep hygiene and allow yourself time to heal. Here are the best tips on how to sleep better with a concussion.

Good sleep schedule

A good sleeping schedule is important for sleep hygiene.

When some people have trouble falling asleep, they get out of bed and start doing other activities. The logic is that they want to be productive instead of lying awake in bed. However, doing so may be counterintuitive to your sleep hygiene. You still need 7 to 8 hours of rest. Yet, staying awake delays your sleep cycle and puts you off schedule.

After a concussion, you need plenty of rest. Even lying down, having your eyes closed and calming your thoughts is a form of rest. Keep with your usual bedtime and waketime as much as possible. It may take a few nights of little sleep to tire you out, but you can get more rest during regular sleep hours. If you need to, listen to some calming music or read a few pages of a book before bed to help you drift off.

No electronics before bed

Not using electronics is important for sleep hygiene.

The brain is a complex organ that processes what we take in through our senses. It keeps our emotions, personality, intellect and consciousness. Using screens like a laptop or smartphone, especially at night, stimulates the brain, making it harder to fall asleep. Your brain needs time to heal. It's best to wind down before bed with lighter activities to prepare your body for sleep. Doing so will alleviate some concussion symptoms and help you fall asleep faster.

No naps

Taking no naps is important for sleep hygiene.

You should set yourself up for successful sleep at night, so avoid napping whenever possible. After a concussion, you can be sleepy at different times of the day. You may still take naps if necessary. It's not worth fighting the urge, especially when you need relaxation to recover. Nap if you have to, but don't plan for one. Save your sleeping for nighttime.

Good sleeping position

A good sleeping position is important for sleep hygiene.

A good sleeping position is critical after a concussion. Your head connects to the neck, spine, and a vast network of muscles. These systems are under tension during the day, so you don't want to bring that with you in bed. Instead, align your body in a neutral sleeping position to take the pressure off.

Keep your head level with your spine, regardless of your sleeping position. You can achieve this with extra pillows to elevate your head into alignment. A good rule is to keep your ears, shoulders and hips in line while changing positions. If needed, place pillows to make your sleeping position more comfortable. If you suffer from back pain while sleeping, consult a chiropractor for advice.

Drinks and diet for better sleep

Healthy drinks and diet are important for sleep hygiene.

A concussion requires rest and any medication prescribed by a doctor. Your body will take care of the rest and doesn't need any other outside help. So, be mindful of what you consume. You may enjoy a few drinks at night. Likewise, you may be a regular coffee or tea drinker. However, these beverages have a stimulating effect on the body, impairing your ability to sleep.

Avoid stimulating beverages in the afternoon and evening since they need time to go through your body. Pop or energy drinks are also a no-no, and chocolate may disrupt sleep. All these stimulants will affect your quality and quantity of sleep at night. Limit or remove them from your diet until you fully recover.

Best sleep environment

A better sleep environment is important for sleep hygiene.

You must set yourself up for sleeping success by creating a peaceful environment. Struggling to sleep can cause stress, so ensure your room is perfect for the night ahead.

First, keep your door closed to block any light shining in. You may want to invest in blackout curtains if streetlights or moonlight are coming through the windows. A sleep mask is practical as well. You also want a quiet place to sleep, so use earplugs. Finally, set the temperature in a comfortable setting. That way, you don't throw blankets off and on all night.

Other techniques can help you sleep better with a concussion. Some people enjoy a soothing, guided meditation before bedtime. Similarly, deep breathing exercises relieve stress and oxygenate the body. You may also try the visualization strategy. Take yourself on an imaginary journey, like relaxing on a beach or in another peaceful setting.

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