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Unable to Sleep After Head Injury: How Can a Neurologist Help?

Unable to Sleep After Head Injury

If you can’t sleep after a head injury, call Medical Clinics of New York City at 1-877-465-7360. Same-day appointments may be available.

After sustaining a head injury, you certainly don’t need to add disrupted sleep patterns to your list of problems. However, an article by Alan Georges and Joe M. Das states that 1.7 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries, which may cause symptoms like disordered sleeping.

If you suspect your head injury disrupts your sleep, you could be correct. Our top neurologist in NYC may have solutions that help you sleep and heal. 

What Head Injuries Affect Your Sleep?

A traumatic brain injury can have severe repercussions on your daily life. Sometimes, the symptoms don’t appear immediately, so you won’t notice its effect until noticeable disruptions occur.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that 223,135 hospitalizations occurred in 2019 due to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBIs occur when blunt force impacts the head. The force might:

  • Fracture the skull
  • Bruise or injure brain tissues
  • Cause a concussion
  • Brain bleeding or blood clots

You might sustain a TBI from a car accident, a fall, work-related trauma, or your head making contact with a hard surface.

If you are unable to fall asleep after a head injury, you might experience related symptoms like:

  • Drowsiness during the day
  • The urge to nap
  • Unrestful sleep
  • Waking up throughout the night
  • Not feeling rested upon waking

Other Symptoms of Head Injuries

You might identify a few other common symptoms that often accompany TBIs. These indicators may help you identify the source of your sleeping problems. Make a note any time you experience the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sudden loss of balance
  • Irritability or anger
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

When you experience these combined with disrupted sleep patterns, you might struggle to feel well. Sleep disorders and other symptoms can harm your healing process, prolonging your recovery and putting you at greater risk for other injuries. 

Why Head Injuries Affect Sleep

According to a study published in 2019, 46% of people suffering from TBIs will also experience a sleep disorder as a result. However, disrupted sleep isn’t the only sleep-related symptom. Some people also experience narcolepsy.

So why do head injuries affect the way you sleep? Despite what many people think, the brain uses a series of complicated processes to manage sleep cycles. As such, sleep involves multiple parts of the brain.

If a TBI hurts one area of the brain, it can impair sleep processes. As a result, you may struggle to fall asleep. Contrastingly, you could fall asleep easily but struggle to stay asleep.

TBIs can also cause problems in areas related to sleep. A brain injury might affect your ability to breathe unconsciously. Thus, your brain will wake you up as your breathing pattern changes.

Certain conditions, such as sleep apnea, are comorbid with TBIs. Sleep apnea may cause irregular breathing, snoring, waking headaches, and hypersomnia. Another person, such as a spouse, may observe many of these symptoms as you sleep. 

How Sleep Affects the Healing Process

As you sleep, several important functions take place in your brain. Certain enzymes repair free-radical damage; neurons and neurotransmitters mend themselves and reproduce. Certain cells may also help tidy up your brain and remove waste particles.

Contrastingly, a lack of restful sleep prevents these essential functions from occurring, which means waste collects inside your brain. Neurotransmitters and neurons cannot replenish their numbers, and damage goes unrepaired. Thus, healing cannot occur at levels high enough to improve your condition. 

How to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

After discovering the prevalence of sleep problems with TBIs, you probably want to know how to fix the issue. First, you should consider an appointment with an NYC neurologist. They can help pinpoint the source of the problem through a series of diagnostic tests.

In the meantime, you can do a few things at home to improve your sleep and prepare for your appointment. 

What to Do at Home

A few habits you can implement throughout the day include:

  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and other disruptive substances
  • Stop napping during the daytime
  • Stop allowing screen usage in your bedroom
  • Consider replacing your mattress
  • Exercise daily
  • Implement a sleep routine
  • Make notes of your current medications and supplements 
  • Maintain a sleep diary that details how many hours of sleep you get, your dreams, how often you wake up during the night, and how you feel when you wake up in the morning. 

You can even find mobile apps designed to contain information about your sleep patterns. Some apps also allow you to export your records to your neurologist. 

How a Neurologist Can Help 

During your first appointment, your neurologist will analyze your current sleep hygiene, habits, and experiences. This is why you may benefit from an ongoing sleep diary or sleep app, as it could help you relay information.

From there, they will devise a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms. Some treatments may include medication, while others require sleep observation or MRIs. 

Find Peace of Mind and Quality Sleep with NYC’s Top Neurologist

Call Medical Clinics of New York City at 1-877-465-7360 to set an appointment when you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night. Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection).

Head injuries from car accidents can cause several side effects besides sleep troubles. Contact a doctor to learn more about your symptoms and how to find relief.

FAQs About How Brain Injuries Affect Sleep Patterns

Is it normal to not be able to sleep after a head injury?

No, it is not normal to not be able to sleep after a head injury. It is, however, a common occurrence that requires treatment from a professional.  

How do you sleep after a head injury?

You sleep after a head injury by tightening up your sleep hygiene and formulating a routine. These things signal to your brain that it’s time to rest.  

Is insomnia a side effect of a concussion?

Insomnia is one of the most common side effects of a concussion.