July 29, 2020

Is It Safe to Sleep After a Concussion?

The short answer from a concussion specialist

person with concussion

Q: I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to sleep after a concussion, or that you should wake up a person with a head injury every couple of hours. Is that true?

A: There is no evidence to support that waking someone up with a suspected concussion (or not letting them sleep at all) is needed or beneficial. There is also no proof that waking them is going to help them get better faster.


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This advice probably stemmed from the idea that falling asleep after a head injury could lead to a coma, but that’s simply not true.

We know that rest is a crucial component for a concussion to heal, so waking someone up or not letting them sleep is actually going to be counterproductive in the healing process. Sleeping for a full eight hours is going to be more beneficial for the person rather than somebody rousing them every hour to ask “Are you okay?”

Having said that, it’s perfectly okay to check on the person to make sure that their breathing pattern is normal and that they are peacefully resting. Doing so doesn’t even have to wake them up! (But if you do notice that they aren’t breathing normally, wake them immediately and seek medical attention.)


Primary care sports medicine physician Richard Figler, MD.

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