General Phone: (281) 298-1144

How a Concussion Might Affect Your Child’s Sleep

How a Concussion Might Affect Your Child’s Sleep

There’s no doubt that a concussion alters your child’s sleep. Changes in sleep rank among the most common symptoms after a concussion. Many children sleep more, while others have trouble sleeping. And about 30-70% of children with concussions develop a sleep disorder like insomnia.

Changes in sleep habits are worrisome under any circumstance. After a concussion, many parents also worry about whether it’s safe to let their child sleep or what to do about insomnia. The best way to put your mind at ease is to meet with the team at THINK Neurology for Kids.

Children should always have a thorough assessment after a concussion. Even though a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), it still causes temporary changes, damaging nerves and affecting neurotransmitter production. 

The team needs to determine the extent of your child’s trauma. Then they can give you recommendations for helping your child recover, including explaining sleep.

Sleep symptoms after a concussion

After a concussion (no matter how mild), your child’s brain must rest to heal. As a result, most kids sleep more than usual. It’s also common for them to feel extremely sleepy during the day, a condition called hypersomnolence. As long as your child has been evaluated, it’s safe to let them sleep as much as they need.

In most cases, children should stay home from school, not only because they need to sleep but also because resting their brain limits all their cognitive and physical activities. You can reintroduce activities gradually as they feel better, but rushing the process hinders brain healing.

Despite needing rest, some children have difficulty sleeping after a concussion, often developing insomnia. Children with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or can’t sleep through the night. They often wake early and then can’t get back to sleep.

Insomnia could develop due to stress or anxiety over brain injury. However, it may also occur due to chemical and structural changes in the brain that affect the production of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone. Disrupting melatonin affects their natural sleep-wake cycle.

Sleep disorders caused by a concussion

Sleep disorders (other than excessive sleepiness and insomnia) aren’t common after a concussion, but can occur. 

Several brain areas work together to regulate sleep, and any of them may become injured during a concussion. The region that’s damaged determines the change in your child’s sleep and the type of disorder they may develop.

The sleep disorders occasionally diagnosed after a concussion include:


Parasomnias are unusual behaviors that occur while your child sleeps, such as:

Sometimes children appear to wake up, but they’re disoriented, unresponsive, or confused. This problem, confusional arousal, occurs because they’re not awake.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when your child temporarily stops breathing while they sleep. Every time they stop breathing, their brain nudges them awake just enough to start breathing. Though they don’t wake up, the process disrupts their sleep.

You may notice loud snoring, restless sleep (tossing and turning), irritability, hyperactivity, and bedwetting.

Leg movements

Some children may develop periodic leg movement disorder (PLMD) or restless legs syndrome (RLS). PLMD causes repetitive, uncontrollable leg movement while sleeping.

RLS also causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, but it occurs while trying to fall asleep and causes uncomfortable and unusual sensations in your legs. Both conditions disrupt sleep and cause insomnia or daytime sleepiness.

If you have questions about your child’s concussion (or if you’re wondering whether they have a concussion), call THINK Neurology for Kids or request an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Understanding the 3 Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy isn’t one disease with a single defining symptom. It’s a group of disorders that cause a wide range of symptoms requiring individualized treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the three main types of cerebral palsy.

4 Common Causes of a Speech Delay in Kids

Parents naturally worry when their child’s speech lags behind others in the same age group. But with early intervention, children can learn the skills they need to overcome a delay. Here’s what you should know about speech delays and their causes.

Important Treatments for Chiari Malformation Type II

Chiari malformation Type II is a congenital disability that causes parts of the lower brain to protrude down into the spinal canal. Though some therapies ease symptoms, the most critical treatment is surgery to create more space and relieve pressure.

6 Effective Treatments for Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is known for causing tics, but tics devastate children’s emotions and behaviors, often disrupting their ability to enjoy school and friends. Read on to learn about the treatments proven to help their challenges.

5 Encouraging Facts About Autism

If you’re overwhelmed with the daily challenges of autism, it’s time to take a step back and remember that you have hope for the future. Begin by reading these encouraging facts while remembering the precious child underneath the challenges.

How (and Why) to Bolster Your ADHD Child's Self Esteem

The challenges of ADHD demolish a child’s self-esteem. How can they feel confident when every day poses overwhelming problems they struggle to control? Though it’s a slow process, you can boost your child's self-esteem with these tips.