Can You Let a Child Sleep After Hitting Their Head?

man carrying crying child

Can you let a child sleep after hitting their head? This is a question that every parent wants answered, especially as their children begin walking around the house. Some parents believe their child needs to be awake after having a significant fall to prevent a coma.

However, this is simply a myth that has no basis in reality. In actuality, having your child take a nap, especially after a traumatic event like falling, can prove to be therapeutic and comforting.

Allowing your child to sleep doesn’t mean it isn’t essential to pay close attention to your child for signs of issues like changes in speech, vomiting, severe headache, difficulty with coordination, or walking. It can even be a great idea to wake the child up twice for the first two nights after the fall, where they hit their head, to make sure they can. If your child wakes up alert, then it could be that the fall hasn’t caused any evolving issues, such as bleeding in the brain.

If your child appears to be sluggish or overly groggy, or perhaps you are concerned, then you should trust your instincts by calling your doctor for advice following a head injury. The doctor might want to give your child a quick check-up. If you cannot wake your child up, you need to head to the emergency room.

If your child sustains a head injury due to a fall from a severe distance or a significant collision, you must talk with a doctor. The doctor should know all the details of the accident and if the child lost consciousness. You should also inform the doctor if the child is excessively crying or irritable or is lethargic or vomiting following the head trauma.

Depending on the symptoms, you might need to head to the emergency room for immediate medical attention. Nevertheless, if a bump appears on your child’s head, either from a bit of roughhousing with their siblings or from falling off their bicycles, you might need to keep an eye on them for a while.

Being able to answer the question “can you let a child sleep after hitting their head” requires you to take into account their level of pain as well. Most doctors have a threshold category.

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Mild: this is if your child experiences pain and informs you about it. However, the pain isn’t debilitating and doesn’t stop your child from engaging in everyday activities. It would be best if you did not change sleep, play, and school activities in this instance.

Moderate: this instance is if the pain stops your child from engaging in everyday activities. The pain might keep them from sleep or wake them up.

Severe: this happens when the pain is extremely debilitating. In this instance, the child is unable to engage in everyday activities.

What Types of Head Injuries Should You Be Aware Of?


A concussion is a form of brain injury that causes a change in the way a brain works in the short term. It is a result of a sudden jolt or blow to the head. Most children hit or bump their heads without resulting in a concussion.

A common sign associated with a concussion is a brief period of memory loss or confusion. Other symptoms of a concussion can be vomiting or headache. Acting dazed or dizziness are also signs of a concussion.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be unconscious to suffer a concussion. Following a concussion, there are some ongoing symptoms some kids might have. These concussion symptoms include thinking difficulties, dizziness, and headaches. Emotional changes and school problems can also occur, with symptoms lasting for several weeks.

It is essential to note that serious brain injuries are possible but uncommon. However, some signs of a severe head injury include swelling, bruises, or bleeding within the brain.

A few symptoms of brain injuries can include:

  • The child acting or speaking as if confused
  • Hard to keep awake or wake up
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteadily walking

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to call the emergency services.

Skull Fracture

About 1 to 2% of children with head injuries will also suffer a skull fracture. Usually, there are no additional symptoms apart from a headache, which tends to appear at the injury site. Most skull fractures tend to occur without further injury to the brain, meaning they heal quickly.

Scalp Injury

Most head injuries typically damage just the scalp. Some examples are a scrape, cut, swelling, or bruise. It is pretty standard for children to fall and hit their heads while growing up. Injuries are prevalent when the child is learning to walk. Big bruises can happen with minor injuries. The damage occurs because the scalp has an ample blood supply.

For this reason, minor cuts on the head can bleed a lot. You should also note that bruises on the forehead can sometimes cause black eyes three days later. This is usually the result of gravity, causing blood to spread downwards.

Concussion Treatment

Treating a concussion requires both brain and physical rest. Brain rest is a term that defines a gradual return to school attendance and full-time studying. On the other hand, physical rest deals with a gradual return to regular activity or work.

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If the child experiences symptoms such as a headache, they need to go back to the previous mental and physical activity level. Only after 24 hours can you attempt to move up a level.

When Should You Call An Ambulance?

You should contact the emergency services if any of the following occurs after your child hits their head:

  • If a seizure occurs
  • If they are unable to move their neck normally. In this instance, you should protect the neck from any movement
  • If they are unconscious for over a minute
  • If significant bleeding that can’t be stopped occurs
  • If your child is difficult to wake up
  • If the child presents slurred speech or is confused


For the most part, the answer to the question “can you let a child sleep after hitting their head” depends on the symptoms they present. If the symptoms are mild and show no sign of losing consciousness, you need to apply a cold compress on the swollen area and let them sleep; however, you need to monitor them closely for 2 hours after hitting their head.