So your youngster fell off the play equipment again and got a head bump…. Now, of course, you have to keep waking them up all night, don’t you? Let’s look at this myth and what you should actually be doing.
First of all….
Let me just check that you spoke with a doctor, nurse, or someone about your little person’s head injury? If they had a fall that was significant enough you’re worried about them sleeping, make sure you had them checked out. We can tell you what to look out for and if you should use an ice-pack, but last time we checked your own health care provider was still better than Dr. Google.
OK, so why should we keep them awake?
We hear this in class regularly – people with head injuries need to be kept awake for 2 hrs, 6 hrs, 12 hrs….. or at least woken up every…. half hour, hour, 2 hrs, whatever. There seems to be the idea that somehow if they go to sleep, they’ll die. After a lot of searching, it seems that once upon a time (sounds like a bad fairy-tale) people suggested waking the person up regularly and if you couldn’t, then they had to come to hospital.
Good news for head injuries
Times have changed and there are more scientific assessment tools now. You no longer need to keep someone awake, or keep waking them up. In fact the best treatment for an injured brain is resting it. To the extent that I was told ‘no TV, no reading, no computers, etc.’ Makes you wonder what a person should be doing besides ‘resting’. Anyway, back to the head bump. Keep them alert for a little while so you can assess them for any signs of a worsening head injury. Then it’s fine to let them sleep.
See also: why we think we should keep people conscious.