After you are injured with whiplash in an accident, sleeping comfortably can be a daunting task. Our body tends to heal its damaged parts better and faster at night rather than in the daytime. Therefore, it is imperative that we take measures to have the right amount of quality sleep, especially after getting hurt.

However, like other neck conditions, whiplash injury also makes it harder for the injured person to properly rest at night, leaving one sleep deprived.  Sleep deprivation has adverse effects on the patients’ health as it can hinder the healing process after a whiplash trauma, which is why getting adequate sleep after such an injury is mandatory for helping the body recover quickly.

What is Whiplash Injury?

According to Injury Care Live, whiplashes are spine injuries caused by a rapid and forceful back-and-forth movement under the influence of an external force. One of the most important cause of such injuries is rear-end car accident. Other causes of such injuries may also include high-impact sports (skiing or snowboarding), horseback riding and gymnastics. After a whiplash injury you can experience mild to severe symptoms.

What is Whiplash Injury – Source:

The symptoms of a whiplash trauma include but are not limited to:

  1. Loss of range of motion in the neck.
  2. Headaches at the base of the skull or starting from there.
  3. Pain or tenderness in the arms or shoulder area (upper back).
  4. Stiffness and pain in the neck, which can get worse with the movement of the neck.

Mild whiplash symptoms tend to subside after a week, while the severe symptoms stay for months. Some patients complain about neck pain even after 10 years of getting injured in a whiplash. The recovery of such injuries depends on the severity of the damage that the accident done to the nerves (in the back of the neck). Such injuries can affect the daily physical activity of the patients and make it difficult for them to sleep well at night.

If the symptoms of whiplash exacerbate, please refer to nearest emergency or urgent care center as soon as possible.

Effects of Whiplash on your Sleep and Health

Whiplash resulting from a car accident, can cause many difficulties for the patients. The most common challenges faced by such patients include sleep deprivation and loss of sleep quality, which can cause them considerable discomfort. If sleep deprivation is extended for a long period, patients can experience following severe symptoms:

  1. Weight Gain
  2. Visual Disturbances
  3. Frequent Illness
  4.  Poor Motor Skills
  5. Micro-sleep (fall asleep at the wheel).

 On the other hand, sleep deprivation can affect the quality of patients’ life by causing lack of concentration, decision making problems, irritability, memory loss and increased emotional instability.

Does Whiplash Get Worse at Night?

Does Whiplash Get Worse at Night?

It is true that whiplash can get worse at night. The reason lies in the fact that during sleep, a person becomes unaware of one’s surroundings and can get hurt due to posture change. Whiplash associated neck pain can also exacerbate when soft muscles are relaxed. Nonetheless, proper use of neck pillows can help in avoiding unnecessary posture changes thereby reducing the chance of neck or head being misaligned.

Three Tips for Better Sleep with Whiplash Injury

Are you finding it difficult to sleep after a whiplash? Don’t worry it is common among people who suffer from such injuries! However, to avoid this challenge, there are some important measures that you can take. These measures can help you sleep better and recover quicker.

1.      Hot or Cold Compress

Heat compress or an ice pack before bed can mitigate the pain of a whiplash injury. This measure of alleviating injury pain is more effective if you put these things on the affected area before bed. However, if you put the ice pack or heat compress on the injury for 20 minutes anytime of the day, it can also help lessen the pain and extra tension. Following this tip can lessen the pain and can help you sleep better at night.

2.      Foam Rollers

Using foam roller for neck and head injury

Foam rollers can help alleviate inflammation in your neck by releasing the muscular tension built after the trauma. It is therefore recommended that whiplash patients use foam rollers before going to bed. Using such props is easy, just three to four minutes of rolling technique or neck release sequence (learn it here) and you are good to go. It can help prevent stiffing of neck while you sleep.

3.      Neck Pillows

The best neck pillows for sleeping with neck injury

With advancement in medical technology, many kinds of special neck pillows are now available in the market. These medicated pillows are designed to provide more support to the neck while the patients are fast asleep. A good night sleep that comes with better neck support can help the patient recover from the injuries caused by a whiplash. In addition to this, the use of a scientifically engineered pillow keeps the patient’s neck stable. With a stable neck posture throughout the night, the patients can prevent misaligned or uncomfortable neck and can enjoy a better sleep.

Hence, proper alignment of the neck and spine can ease the pain and can help you in dealing with the whiplash. On the other hand, if the pillow is too low or too high above the spine, the patients will feel uncomfortable and restless. This misalignment can keep the patients disturbed in their sleep and even cause sleep deprivation. Therefore, the use of a medicated pillow, instead of regular one for keeping the neck stable, is vital for a patient of whiplash injury.

How to Sleep with Whiplash Injury | Some Sleeping Positions:

Keeping a proper sleeping position is very important for the people suffering from whiplash. If a proper position is not implemented and maintained during the sleep, the neck can become stiff and bring more pain. On the other hand, if the patients manage to sleep in a proper position, there will be less tension to the muscles and less neck pain to endure.

Two sleeping positions recommended to whiplash patients:

1. Sleeping on side

Sleeping on side with neck and head injury

Sleeping on side is a highly recommended sleeping position for the patients of whiplash affliction. This sleeping position helps keep the spine in natural curvature and prevent misalignment. Medical care providers also advice the patients of whiplash injury to place a pillow between their knees and legs to keep the spine in alignment with the neck.

2. Sleeping on back 

Sleeping on back when you have hurt your neck

Experts of medical field recommend the patients of whiplash injury to sleep on their backs. This sleeping position can prevent the building up of extra tension in the neck, back and other body parts. This option helps the patients alleviate the neck pain by keeping it properly aligned and supported. This sleeping position can help avoid arching of the back. Additionally, in this position there will be more strain on the back, which will make the back muscles work harder for fast recovery.

Key Takeaways for Sleeping with Whiplash

To conclude, sleeping with a whiplash wound is an easier said than done job. The use of heat compress or an ice pack, foam rollers and medicated neck pillows can mitigate the pain and can help the patients of such injuries enjoy a good night sleep. Therefore, if you have a whiplash, you should use the above-mentioned medical inventions to help your body recuperate overnight.

In addition to this, choose a sleeping position that is recommended by the experts. All in all, a cautious attitude can help you recover fast even with severe whiplash injuries.