Key Points:

  • Sleep impacts how we feel and function and it is common to have difficulties with sleep after a concussion.
  • Sleep gradually improves in a few days to weeks.
  • Using sleep tips can help you improve your sleep quality, make you feel better, and recover faster.

This section will provide practical tips for how to get a more restorative or restful sleep after a concussion and in general.

Why is Sleep Important?

Getting a good night's sleep is important to recovery. This is when we physically and cognitively process, rebuild, grow, and restore energy. During sleep, our brain recovers and reorganizes. This is especially important during adolescence as your body and brain is growing and developing.

For example, memories are put into storage, debris and waste are being removed from the body, and growth hormone is being released to make your brain and body grow and develop.

Common Sleep Issues

Sleep difficulties are common after a concussion, and generally improve over time.

Symptoms depend on the person and may vary day to day.

  • It can be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep after a concussion.
  • You may have a lot of trouble waking up on time for school.
  • You may find that you need a lot more sleep than usual and may need to nap during the day.

Helpful Sleep Tips

Here are some things you can do to make it easier to fall asleep and get a ‘restorative sleep’ where you feel energized for the day:

During the Day
  • Get some physical activity each day - up to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine intake (e.g. coffee/tea, energy drinks, and hot chocolate). Drink these before noon.
  • Avoid napping if possible. If you need to nap, limit it to 30 minutes, before 3pm. Sleeping during the day can impact how well you sleep overnight.
  • Try to get some natural light each day, especially in the morning.
  • Make sure you have enough vitamins and minerals (e.g. magnesium, zinc) in your diet.
At Night
  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, even on weekends (for now). If this isn’t possible, try to keep these times within an hour of the weekday bedtime/wake time.
  • Avoid any computer, phone TV or other screen time for 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. This could include listening to relaxing music (avoid strong beats), taking a warm bath/shower, doing some gentle stretches, crafts/hobbies or reading. You could also try doing some relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, positive visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness. Make this routine a habit, doing the same thing each day.
  • Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and cool; make sure your pillow and bedding are comfortable.

Add to My Recovery Plan 📒

Here are some common strategies that many teenagers find helpful. You can chose the one that you would like to add to your personalized Recovery Plan.

For more information, see Additional Sleep Tips [PDF].

When to Seek Further Help

It can take time to gradually normalize your sleep cycle. If your sleep is not improving after 4 weeks of using these sleep tips, talk to your family doctor. Your family doctor can assess for other medical conditions that can impact sleep, or recommend additional treatment.

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