How to Sleep with Whiplash: 5 Methods that Will Improve Your Rest

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Last updatedLast updated: August 25, 2021
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Sleeping with whiplash can be very difficult, but is there anything you can do about it? In this article we will take an in-depth look into whiplash, its causes symptoms and helpful hints on sleeping positions and pain management.

Sleep is extremely important for recovery, so it’s vital you get as much as possible. Pain medication may help, but the correct sleeping position and proper spine alignment also matter. Read on for tips on how to sleep with whiplash and give your body a fighting chance to heal.

Whiplash explained

How to Sleep with Whiplash: 5 Methods that Will Improve Your RestWhiplash happens when a person’s head and neck are forced backward and then forward very quickly. The injury normally happens in a car accident when the person is hit forcefully from behind. It can also result from being shaken violently, from sports injuries or even riding a rollercoaster. The action causes the discs, ligaments, muscles and nerve endings to become damaged.

Small vessels in the neck tear or rupture. In extreme cases you may then not even be able to turn your neck without experiencing excruciating pain. Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Pain and swelling of the neck
  • Spasms in your muscles
  • Difficulty moving or turning your head
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Stiff and locked neck
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss

If you experience whiplash you should see a doctor immediately. An x-ray and a CT scan will be performed to evaluate the extent of the damage.

Resting positions for whiplash sufferers

Your doctor will give you a collar made of foam for support and to prevent you from moving your neck quickly. When resting in bed, rather than a regular pillow, place a rolled-up towel under your neck to support it.

Consider purchasing a neck pillow such as the Nature’s Guest Adjustable Cervical Orthopedic Pillow for Neck Pain that’s approved by chiropractors and recommended by orthopedic surgeons to speed you the healing process. Use that until the pain subsides.

How to sleep with whiplash painlessly

Depending on the severity of your whiplash you could try sleeping while sitting in a chair. If you can’t sleep while sitting, you can use pillows to support your neck. You need to pay special attention to how you align your neck, or you’ll cause even more damage.

Put compress before sleep

A great way to help alleviate pain is to use an ice pack or hot water bottle on the affected area. Do it when you experience pain but for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.

Invest in a good pillow

Buy an orthopedic pillow or one intended to stop someone snoring. It will provide excellent support as it has a dip in the middle, relieving pressure in your neck.

Alternatively, try a pregnancy full body pillow to allow you to shape the pillow to your specific requirements. Smaller pillows can also help relieve the tension if you place them behind your back or as support for knees.

Make sure that your neck is not too high or low. It should be supported completely and perfectly aligned.

Sleep position

The best sleeping position for a whiplash sufferer is on your back, without any pillow behind your head. Use a special neck pillow for neck alignment and minimal pressure in that area. This position will prevent you from moving around in your sleep, which is much recommended.

If you do need to sleep on your side, keep your spine aligned by placing a pillow between your knees. Try to avoid arching your back and stretch as often as you can.

How to Sleep with Whiplash: 5 Methods that Will Improve Your RestFoam roller

Using a foam roller to gently roll your neck out before you sleep could also help relieve tension and pain. A foam roller such as OPTP Original McKenzie works by gently stretching your neck muscles as you roll them.

Make sure to use gentle strokes without too much pressure.

Extra tips

Be very careful when you move around during the day. Concentrate on keeping your back straight when you sit. Other tips include:

  • Take regular breaks.
  • Get yourself some supportive shoes to keep your spine aligned and allow your neck to heal faster.
  • Stretch as much as possible to ensure your muscles don’t lock.
  • Take medication if you need it but stick to the correct dosages.
  • Move around as much as possible even if you’re just walking.
  • Physical therapy can help you heal much faster.
  • If your pain is intense you may benefit from trigger point injections.

Final thoughts

Having whiplash is a horrible experience but hopefully some of these tips will help you navigate it a bit easier. If you suspect that you have whiplash or experience any of the symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.

If whiplash isn’t treated correctly, you could end up causing permanent damage to your neck. You will need pain relief such as muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory products.

How to sleep with whiplash? Investing in a good pillow will make your recovery more pleasant and may help you sleep better at night. Whiplash happens surprisingly quickly so you may not even know you have it until you start experiencing pain.

Older people seem to suffer from whiplash more and take longer to recover from neck injuries, so it’s important to get treated as soon as possible. Try to keep yourself as comfortable as possible and avoid making any sudden movements.

Do you have more questions about this condition? Leave a comment and let’s talk!

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