Post-Concussion Syndrome and Sleeping in Class

The Problem:

As a junior college student, I am having problem that I have never experienced before: falling asleep in class. This is not to say that I have never been tempted to lay my head down on a desk or have never drifted off for a second or two. This year, it is more intense. I will be paying attention in class and then my vision will start to double or I will not be able to visually focus on anything. Even though I recognize that these symptoms are a precursor to me falling asleep, I cannot stop it. The voice in my head is screaming STAY FOCUSED, but it is useless. After my vision becomes unclear, I do not even recognize the exact moment when I fall asleep. Then, I wake up confused and upset mid-class after about 15 minutes. This situation has happened to me at least once a day on my three busiest school days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) since the start of school, and it is downright frustrating. I want to understand a possible explanation as to why this is happening to me.


This is an example of how I start to see right before I knock out in class. Click Here to visit the page where I got this image.

Background Information:

At the end of last semester, I got a serious concussion. I am a sleepwalker, and I was fighting someone in my dream. In reality, I smacked my head of my bedroom wall. Four months later, I still experience minor symptoms. I get headaches and dizzy if I work too long at my computer or read for extensive periods of time. When I was recovering from my concussion, I experienced this overwhelming sensation of needing to fall asleep when I tried to overwork myself.  Now, I have a similar experience when I am in class for a long time. Could my past concussion still be affecting me now? Is this the why I keep falling asleep in class?

What I Learned:

According to Mayo Clinic, there is a disorder called post-concussion syndrome. The site says that post-concussion syndrome can affect a person for a long time after their concussion. It seems that the symptoms, if any, are most likely to be experienced within a year after the injury, but they syndrome could last longer. The Mayo Clinic Staff lists some of the symptoms that match what I am experiencing including being tired, losing focus, and getting dizzy.

My Thoughts:

Mayo Clinic’s description of post-concussion syndrome matches what I am experiencing. With that being said, I have not seen a doctor to officially diagnose me with post-concussion syndrome. On my last visit with my concussion specialist, my doctor said that it may take awhile to be symptom-free, and if I experience symptoms, I should just rest. Since I am a busy college student taking 23 credits, resting anytime I feel like it is needed is not an option. Mayo Clinic’s webpage explains how there are not really any medications or treatments to easily cure my post-concussion syndrome-like symptoms.

My Conclusions:

 After reading about post- concussion syndrome, I think I can correlate  my constant falling asleep as a residual symptom of my concussion. Since I have not been tested or seen a doctor, I cannot 100% confirm that I have this syndrome.  There is still a possibility that falling asleep in class is due to chance or a third, confounding variable. For example, a potential third variable could be that I actually just need more sleep every night. Another confounding variable is how much I eat on my busy days. Since I have five classes in a row on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I only have time to eat some crackers or a piece of hand fruit in between the class changes. My energy levels might be low. In the meantime, I am going to try to take a break when I start to notice my vision getting blurred. I think it is worth leaving class for a five minute mental break instead of falling asleep for fifteen minutes in the front row.


3 thoughts on “Post-Concussion Syndrome and Sleeping in Class

  1. Darby Helen Smith

    I chose this post to read because I remember some of my friends having a hard time in school after their concussions because they could not focus or attain information as well. I am very sorry that this is happening to you because with the workload and stress of a college student, falling asleep while genuinely trying to pay attention must be very hard. I thought your post was very good and I specifically enjoyed when you weaved in the terms third and cofounding variables!

  2. Taylor M Stewart

    This is very interesting. It seems as though we long sleep more in situations where it is not supposed to happen. For example, we may feel exhausted and tempted to fall asleep in class and then stay up on Instagram for hours once it is finally time to go to sleep. I find myself in this situation almost every night.

  3. Rachel Marie Aul

    I really enjoyed your post. Two years ago, I got a concussion while playing volleyball. I can relate when you state that you get dizzy sometimes and it is hard to focus. I especially remember wanting to sleep all the time. However, I usually found that my head felt worse after I woke up than it did before I took a nap. It would be curious to see if there is an explanation for that. Luckily for me, I recovered from my concussion after about three months. I wish the best to you trying to recover!

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