Concussions

Sleep Hygiene is Critical

My sister-in-law sent me this quote,

Hah! This is so me!

Routines are vital in order to be and feel successful now. I understand that it is really hard to implement this when you are tired, feeling listless, and may not be doing a lot during the day.  However, routines will help your body adjust to knowing what it needs to do and when. It’ll help to set it into a better rhythm.

I had terrible insomnia for a while after my concussion. I would go a few days with only about two hours of sleep per night. I would have a night here and there when I could get five to six hours, but then I’d be right back to the three day or so cycle of little to no sleep. I remember lying in bed, staring at the darkness trying anything I could do to sleep, with no success. I would finally give up and just lay there, thinking that there was nothing else I could really do anyways, so I might as well just rest… Although, I do admit to being entertained the odd time by my husband’s sleep talking and movements!

As time went on and I could handle a few things here and there to fill my day, sleep got a little easier. I learned that sleep hygiene was extremely important. A brain with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is more easily stimulated than a normal brain, so we need to slow down earlier in the night in order to get a good night of sleep.

The more you set routines during your day, the more your body will know how it should respond, and roughly what time to respond.

People, (mainly my husband) would joke that we go to bed at 7:00 p.m.! Okay, I’m not typically that bad! However, I do usually like to start getting ready for bed around 8:30 – 8:45p.m. and be in bed by 9:00p.m. I don’t sleep yet.  We usually lie there and talk about the day.  This lets my brain calm down so that I can fall asleep by 9:30 or 10:00. My alarm goes off at 5:40a.m. to make sure that I’m up and out of bed by 6:00a.m. to get ready for work.

Some of you are probably thinking, ‘well you can work so it’s easy to keep a routine, but it’s a lot harder when I can’t handle doing much of anything’! I work at a school, so I have most of the summers off, which is usually the time I struggle the most. I come off a really busy season to suddenly having no routine or schedule to follow. I know that if I don’t have a routine, I crash hard! So, I force myself to still get up at 6:00a.m. and get ready for the day, like I will be going to work. Then I try to plan one or two things that I can do to bring some structure to the day. I’m more symptomatic (dizzy, exhausted, headaches, emotional, etc) during this time because my body seems to know it can finally relax. Therefore, I don’t push myself quite as much. I will choose to do a task like organize a closet, read, or make dinner, and then I’ll take a break. If it’s a more tiring day, I’ll allow myself to take a nap for 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Don’t do any longer or it’ll be harder to get out of bed and will throw your body off. After your nap get up and just rest for a bit longer somewhere other than your bedroom until you feel like you can accomplish something else. Note: the only time I will allow myself to sleep or rest longer in bed is if I am really symptomatic and need to ‘crash’ after a busy and stressful time. I know that I will still be able to sleep throughout the night, so this is the only time I’m okay with it.

One of my friends who also had a concussion struggled with sleeping problems, and sluggishness. I recommended that she implement some sleep hygiene and start a bed-time routine. When she started doing that, she found that her days got easier, and she could handle a bit more. She started struggling again when she’d get off her routine, so she noticed a difference as well.

It’s not going to fix everything, but, many little things make a big difference! Find the schedule that works for you and your family. You’ll especially have to stick with this if you have kids to attend to. You’ll need all the energy you can get!

Enjoy being ‘wild’ but get some sleep!

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