Did you just hit your head while working, playing a sport, or taking part in another activity? If so, there is always a chance you may have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
According to the CDC, anywhere from 1.7 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries occur in the U.S. annually. It can be difficult to pinpoint an exact number since not all TBIs are reported. But it's safe to say that TBIs are more common than people might think.
Because of this, knowing how long to stay awake after hitting your head is very important. It's normal to feel tired after suffering a TBI, but you'll need to try staying awake after a concussion for a handful of reasons.
In this article, we're going to discuss what to do after hitting your head and explain why you should make staying awake after hitting your head a top priority. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Is Staying Awake After Hitting Your Head Important?
People used to believe that, if someone went to sleep right after suffering a concussion or another type of TBI, they could potentially slip into a coma or even die. This is a belief that has, unfortunately, stood the test of time even though sleeping itself isn't going to put someone into a coma after they hit their head.
But that doesn't mean you should immediately go to sleep after suffering a head injury. The problem with doing this is that it could result in some of the symptoms of a head injury going away. It'll make it more difficult for you to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor.
With this in mind, you should not go to sleep after hitting your head. You should also not put off seeking medical attention so that you can be evaluated for a TBI.
The sooner you're able to visit the emergency room or your doctor's office, the sooner you'll be able to be diagnosed with a head injury if you have one. You're going to face an uphill battle if you wait even just a few days and then challenge a doctor to try to diagnose a head injury without being able to see all your initial symptoms.
You'll also need to continue to see a doctor in the weeks and even months following a head injury. Only about 45% of people do this. It makes the recovery process so much harder on them than it should be.
How Long to Stay Awake After Hitting Your Head?
Once upon a time, some medical experts suggested that anyone who hit their head and may have sustained a concussion or a TBI should stay awake for 24 hours. This was still back when people believed that sleeping right after suffering a head injury could lead to a person slipping into a coma or possibly dying in their sleep.
Thankfully, this misconception has also been cleared up in recent years. People do not have to spend an entire day awake after hitting their heads. But they also shouldn't rush right off to bed to fall asleep, either.
The medical community hasn't yet come to a consensus on exactly how long a person should stay awake after hitting their head. But one recent study showed that around 4 hours seems to be the sweet spot when it comes to how long to stay awake after hitting your head.
When a person remains awake for 4 hours after suffering a head injury, it'll give those around them long enough to monitor their condition to see if they seem to be getting any worse as far as concussion symptoms are concerned. It'll also provide a person with plenty of time to seek medical attention for their head injury, which is, as we alluded to earlier, very important.
Some medical professionals also recommend that a person who has hit their head should be woken up every few hours after eventually falling asleep to monitor their condition. It is, however, also worth noting that other medical professionals argue against doing this since it will interrupt a person's sleep and maybe even make it difficult for them to get back to sleep afterward.
You should bring this up with the medical professional you see to find out what they would recommend based on the head injury that's been diagnosed.
What If You Start to Feel Sleepy After Hitting Your Head?
Staying awake after sustaining a concussion or another type of TBI can be tricky. Part of the reason why so many people wonder how long they have to stay awake after hitting their heads is because they'll almost immediately start to feel sleepy after striking them.
As a result, you should call on a family member, a friend, a coworker, a teammate, or someone else to come and be with you following your head injury. They'll be able to assess any concussion symptoms you might exhibit better than you can. They'll also be able to help you get the medical attention you need ASAP.
In the event that you really struggle to stay awake in the hours following a head injury, this person will be able to help you stay up until you're able to get the proper medical attention, too. Generally speaking, most medical experts say it would be a good idea to have someone by your side for about 24 hours after you hit your head. If nothing else, they'll be able to keep a close eye on you and pick up on any worsening symptoms that might require additional medical care.
Which Brain Injury Symptoms Should You Look for After Hitting Your Head?
When you sustain a concussion or another type of TBI, it'll lead to your brain moving around in your skull. This can result in your brain's neurons changing and being unable to communicate with other neurons in your brain. It's why confusion is one of the first brain injury symptoms you may suffer from.
There are also lots of other brain injury symptoms that'll start to appear in the aftermath of you hitting your head. Here are a handful of other TBI symptoms you should look out for:
Nausea and/or vomiting
Sensitivity to light and/or noise
Intense mood changes
You might experience some of these brain injury symptoms right away. You might also find that others will pop up later on.
Whatever the case, you shouldn't ever ignore the signs of a brain injury. If you do, it could very well lead to a concussion or another type of TBI going undetected.
Even if you feel okay after hitting your head, you should still see a doctor before you go to sleep. If you sleep prior to getting medical attention, it could lead to some of the more obvious signs of a brain injury disappearing, and this could make your condition more difficult for a doctor to diagnose.
How Much Should You Sleep After Hitting Your Head?
The doctor you see after you hit your head will be able to talk to you about the importance of getting plenty of sleep after suffering a concussion or another type of TBI. The more severe your TBI is, the more sleep you'll need to get to begin to feel better.
You should resist the urge to try to get things right back to normal after suffering a concussion or TBI. If you attempt to bounce back too fast, it could make your situation even more complicated and lead to more health-related problems in the not-too-distant future.
You don't ever want to rush through the recovery process for a concussion or TBI. Getting more than enough sleep will work wonders for your brain as it heals and begins to work as it should again.
How Can You Deal With Sleep Troubles After Hitting Your Head?
When you first hit your head and sustain a concussion or TBI, you're going to feel sleepy. This might lead you to believe that you won't have any issues sleeping once you get on the road to recovery.
But sleep problems are some of the most common issues that people face after hitting their heads and sustaining head injuries. You might find that you won't be able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep after hitting your head and getting injured.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to try to make sleep a little easier to come by while you're healing. Here are the steps you will need to go through to get more sleep:
Create a consistent sleep schedule for yourself
Establish a nighttime routine that promotes relaxation
Try to give yourself at least 8 hours each night to sleep
Steer clear of taking too many naps during the day
Avoid consuming too much caffeine, especially later on in the day
Stay off your phone while you're getting ready to go to bed
If you just can't seem to sleep at night while recovering from a brain injury, you might also want to bring this up with your doctor. They might be able to come up with the right solution to help you sleep better and longer at night.
Take Hold of Your Recovery
After sustaining a TBI, the symptoms you begin to experience can be overwhelming. Sallie aims to ease this feeling by being an incredibly easy-to-use and free symptom-tracking dashboard. Using the dashboard at the beginning of one's recovery can help one identify symptoms and triggers. Our robust data collection approach includes many speech symptoms for our users to track.
Identifying that you may be experiencing difficulties with sleeping at night could be the first step towards recognizing your possible need to introduce more sleep and Sallie into your recovery plan.
Know how long to stay away after hitting your head and then take hold of your brain injury recovery today! Register here for Sallie.