If you hit your head after a fall, you could sustain a concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that usually resolves on its own.
At one point, doctors told patients not to sleep with a concussion. Research currently shows that it is usually fine, even beneficial, for you to sleep with a concussion. The danger is that you may have a more serious brain injury that needs emergency medical attention.
Myths and facts about sleeping with a concussion
At one point, the conventional wisdom was that if you went to sleep with a concussion, you could slip into a coma, meaning that you might not wake up. However, research conducted at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and other institutions shows that it is safe for a patient with a concussion to go to sleep and that staying awake may have a negative effect on healing.
The danger is that you may have a brain injury that is more serious than a concussion. Therefore, if you have other symptoms, you should avoid sleep and seek immediate medical care.
Symptoms for which you should seek immediate care
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have a brain injury that is more serious than a concussion, you need immediate medical treatment. Symptoms of more serious brain injuries include the following:
- Lack of coordination
- Changes in speech or behavior
- Nausea or vomiting
- Worsening headache
- Loss of consciousness lasting at least 30 seconds
If you do not have symptoms of a severe brain injury, you do not need to seek emergency care, nor do you need to avoid sleep. Nevertheless, you should still see a doctor within two days of the injury for an evaluation.