Do you sleep a lot after stroke and worry that it’s abnormal? Do you constantly feel tired and sleepy?
Don’t worry – it’s completely normal!
Your brain has sustained a serious injury and now it needs lots of rest in order to repair and rewire itself. In fact, your brain normally uses 20% of your energy, and that percentage only increases when it’s busy trying to fix itself.
Why Sleep Is Oh-So Important
Sleep is necessary for a healthy brain.
When we sleep, our brain gets a chance to clean itself up and flush out toxic molecules that build up during waking hours.
If we don’t get enough sleep and these toxins continue to build up in our brain, it could lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Sleep Helps Improve Movement Recovery after Stroke
Sleep helps your brain heal and store information related to motor tasks.
During REM sleep, your brain turns short-term memories about muscle movement into long-term memories that become stored in the part of the brain that’s in charge of muscle activity.
Essentially, sleep helps your brain remember those movements that you’ve been practicing all day.
So if sleeping is the only thing that you want to do after you finish your rehabilitation exercises, rest assured. You’re doing your body a great service! In fact, sleep is one of the most important ingredients in any good stroke rehabilitation regimen.
Take It from a Stroke Survivor
Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist who experienced a massive stroke, wrote a book about her 8-year stroke recovery and all the lessons she learned.
One of those lessons was the incredible importance of getting plenty of sleep after stroke. In fact, it’s her top recommendation for healing! Take it from a stroke-surviving neuroscientist – sleep is important!
Now that you how crucial good sleep is for stroke recovery, do you feel less guilty about getting all those zzz’s? We hope so.
For advice about optimizing your sleep, see our Sleep and Stroke article.
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