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Concussion and Sleep: Strategies for a Better Night’s Rest

Sleep disturbances are a common and challenging consequence of concussions, impacting the recovery process and overall quality of life. A concussion can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep. At Revivo, our Toronto-based physiotherapy and neurology clinic, we understand the critical role that sleep plays in healing from a concussion. This post explores the relationship between concussion and sleep and offers strategies to promote better sleep quality during recovery.

Understanding the Impact of Concussion on Sleep

After a concussion, individuals may experience a range of sleep-related issues, including:

  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Increased Sleep Needs: Feeling excessively sleepy during the day or requiring more sleep than usual at night.
  • Sleep-Wake Cycle Disturbances: Experiencing a disrupted internal clock, leading to irregular sleep patterns.
  • Sleep Apnea: New or worsening sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Strategies for Improving Sleep Post-Concussion

1. Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting better sleep patterns.

2. Create a Restful Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using earplugs, eye masks, or white noise machines if necessary.

3. Limit Screen Time Before Bed: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid screens (phones, tablets, computers, TVs) at least an hour before bedtime.

4. Avoid Stimulants: Caffeine and nicotine can disrupt sleep. Try to limit their intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

5. Incorporate Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching before bed can help prepare your body and mind for sleep.

6. Manage Naps Wisely: While napping can help address increased sleep needs, long or late naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. Limit naps to 20-30 minutes and avoid napping late in the day.

7. Physical Activity: Engaging in light to moderate physical activity during the day can promote better sleep at night. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure the activity level is appropriate for your stage of recovery.

8. Seek Professional Guidance: If sleep problems persist, consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial. They can assess your sleep issues and may recommend treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or, in some cases, medication.

The Importance of Sleep in Concussion Recovery

Sleep plays a vital role in the healing process, allowing the brain to rest and recover. Quality sleep supports cognitive function, emotional regulation, and physical health, all of which are crucial for effective concussion recovery. By prioritizing sleep and implementing strategies to address sleep disturbances, individuals recovering from a concussion can support their overall healing process.

Conclusion

Sleep disturbances following a concussion are a significant concern, but with the right strategies and support, individuals can improve their sleep quality and contribute to their recovery. At Revivo, we are dedicated to assisting our patients in navigating the challenges of post-concussion recovery, including improving sleep. By understanding the impact of concussion on sleep and adopting effective sleep practices, patients can take important steps toward regaining their health and well-being.

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