Sleeping is Good

It used to be that doctors would tell you to keep people awake with head injuries.  That has changed, quite a bit.  Keeping someone awake might be indicated for a possible brain bleed, but concussions need the sleep and recovery time.

Sleeping is first. If you’re not sleeping, forget it,” said Cara Camiolo Reddy, the co-director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute brain program and the medical adviser to the Sports Medicine concussion program. Sleep is vital in the recovery process because the injured brain needs rest to begin to heal itself. The concussion program and Camiolo prescribe medications, however, only to post-concussion syndrome sufferers who are three weeks or longer into their injury.

This quote was from and article by Chuck Finder of Scrips Howard News Services and appeared on today.

In the article you will find that this prescription is not widely accepted by the community that deals with concussion management.  However in my experience it is vital to let the brain rest.  When I am debriefing with the athlete and their parents, the most often question I get is “can you sleep too much?”.  My answer is no.  To make the parents feel better I have them arouse the concussed individual at infrequent rates to observe their arousal response.  I also have the parents ask the three words that we asked the person to remember right after the concussion episode.

With our experience at our school, the kids and parents that abided by the recommendations of sleep and complete brain rest have recovered at a much quicker rate.  The kids and parents that did not listen are still dealing with symptoms and have yet to be cleared.

I know that is not a research study in its most proper form, but the observational evidence tells us, and those in the above article that sleep is indeed needed.

8 thoughts on “Sleeping is Good

  1. Ann Engelland, MD October 20, 2012 / 11:43

    Your website is terrific. As a pediatrician, school and college physician, I have been compelled to write a book easily accessible to all as an eBook or print on demand through Barnes and Noble, and other venues. It’s All In Your Head: Everyone’s Guide to Managing Concussions helps to reinforce exactly what you say: The Four Rs: Recognize, Respond, Rest, and Reassess on the road to full recovery.

    I invite you to link to my site and hope we can collaborate moving forward. Bravo for your excellent work.

    Ann Engelland, MD

  2. Phil Colwell May 13, 2015 / 09:03

    funny how things change. in 1981 when i was concussed in Winnepeg i was instructed by the team doctor to stay awake all night. bad advice ???

  3. firstfloorluka July 19, 2015 / 02:47

    After my serious brain injury in 1991. I spent about 6 months either in coffee shops staring or on a friends floor sleeping or in my bed. without the wisdom of a friend who let me fall asleep and stay asleep, one who did not even know my pre-level functioning, who never judged me as lazy. I would have never made a comeback. I owe much to him.

  4. tmm October 13, 2015 / 14:14

    VERY IMPORTANT! I cannot believe you’re advising patients that sleep is good after a concussion, a victim of a concussion must be relieved of the effects before sleeping or risk the lose of memory they had the morning of the hit…, question the sufferer about personal history, where they went to Grade 1, etc…, the short circuit in the brain has left the electrical scorched, sooty conduits will defy attempts to recall, pushing electricity through fried wiring will prevent the victim from losing memories forever,
    if a child sees stars after a hit, they’ve had a minor concussion and ought to be questioned before nap time, if a parent dings their knot while loading groceries into the hatchback and sees a spark, they have suffered a medium concussion and ought to be questioned, before sleep, if a lineman in a football game, a boxer, a hockey player, a housewife, get knocked right out… unconscious, out cold, they have seen a great flash that scorched passages in the brain, and some gentle techniques ought to be employed so that this person does not have to be separated from loved one’s even in recovery…, help concussion sufferers by identifying the spots, sparks, flashes that accompany every hit to the head…

    • jaclynleighmezzo March 26, 2016 / 11:14

      Your comment is very difficult to understand. But, the author made it quite clear that FIRST the brain has to be assessed for bleeding, before the patient is cleared to sleep. She did not say go straight to sleep.

      I have a concussion right now, and first they advised me to stay awake under observation for four hours post concussion, and then they did a cat scan and now it is clear that rest is very important for me.

      Without cognitive rest, the patient can’t recover and risks losing memory. Maybe go back and proof read the comment out loud… I truly can’t understand any of it aside from the first sentence. And if your intention is to help people, it’s important that they can understand your message.

      • jaclynleighmezzo March 26, 2016 / 11:16


  5. tmm October 13, 2015 / 14:19

    as a good old Canadian boy I was subjected to shots to my head early and often, the last, a sucker punch outside a soup kitchen in Penticton bc, fell asleep for 24 hours, woke up for 15 minutes, fell asleep for 6 more, in two years had lost everything and was living outside, 2008 realized something was really wrong, two months later, remembered there had been an event, absolutely NO HELP from Brain Injury Society, welcome to soviet Canada, if you’re injured stay low or the system will make you suffer…

  6. t October 27, 2015 / 13:01

    How do you know childhood concussions don’t
    cause Alzheimer’s, whether recovering from a
    hit to the head, or deteriorating to death, as a
    recoverer of many concussions, as a child and
    as an adult in canada, i can look back and see
    when i was affected by how often i became
    Stop telling people that sleep is good for concussions.
    After my last concussion, i fell asleep for 30 hrs,
    two years after the hit i was living outside,
    some 5 or 6 years later i realized something
    was very wrong, that i had trouble with recall,
    couldn’t identify options, couldn’t come up with
    courses of action,
    2 months later i recalled that there had been
    an incident,
    If you keep up this campaign to permanently
    ruin Humans’ brains, you will face total public
    scrutiny as to why you would promote something
    that may even cause late life dementia,
    i realize that punching children in the head
    is a religious rite,
    the same element that promotes sleep for
    victims of head trauma must be the same
    element that promotes the ideas flogged
    on canadian students, that status quo is
    good, change is bad, covering up true
    history while promoting the embracing of
    myth as fact is a sign of honor and courage,
    that synthetic ought to be mainstream
    while natural/normal ought to be alternative
    teachers, preachers, neighbors, strangers in
    religious cultures where Humanity is NOT a
    priority seem to relish the idea that all kids
    are assault-able, for generations, Canadian
    Forces Bases were havens for child molesters
    and abusers, BC outlawed corporal punishment
    in the 90’s, last in canada to do so, many
    concussion sufferers may not even remember
    that dinger to the knot , loading groceries into
    the hatchback, 2 yrs. later…divorced, destitute,
    or dead, thanx

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