Whiplash is a common neck strain or injury. It can be the result of sports or household injuries. However, the most common cause of whiplash are car accidents.
While torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles all heal over time, you may have to live with whiplash for a few weeks or months. The most obvious symptom is neck pain.
You may also need to deal with a limited range of motion or excessive stiffness in the affected area. Plus, whiplash comes with headaches that can be impossible to ignore. A whiplash headache typically starts at the base of the skull and works its way up.
But here’s an aspect of this condition that doesn’t get talked about all that much. Whiplash can lead to sleep deprivation.
Whiplash vs. Sleep
Being in a great deal of pain makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. Worse yet, neck pain causes interruptions as you sleep. If you keep waking up during the night, intense fatigue will become inevitable down the line.
The worst part is that not getting enough sleep makes the whiplash worse. When your muscles don’t relax during the night, your neck becomes more knotted and the pain intensifies. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of sleep to your health when you are injured. Being exhausted slows down your recovery a great deal.
All-Natural Ways to Get Your Sleep in Order
After your injury, your doctors may have recommended NSAIDs or other painkillers. But these don’t guarantee a good night’s sleep. When you’re exhausted by the pain and discomfort, it’s best to look to nature.
Here are some easy ways of getting your sleep in order as you recover from whiplash.
Get a Better Pillow
High-quality pillows are a must when you’re dealing with neck pain of any kind. You can opt for memory foam or feather pillows, but natural latex can do the job as well. What’s important is to choose a rounded model that fits the curvature of your spine. During recovery, it’s best to go for softer pillows.
Soothe with Essential Oils
Studies conducted in laboratory conditions confirmed what we already know: aromatherapy is a great way to relax. By stimulating the olfactory senses, you can relieve the tension in your muscles. This will help you fall asleep more quickly.
But strong and pleasant scents also have an analgesic effect – they can free you from your aches for a while. The best oils to use include valerian, bergamot, jasmine, eucalyptus, and more. In addition to aromatherapy, you can also apply some essential oils (like black pepper, clove, or ginger) to the tender area directly.
Use Ice to Numb the Affected Area
You can ice your neck several times a day for about 15 minutes at a time. It’s best to wrap the ice in a dry towel before you apply it to your skin. Remember that your goal is to reduce inflammation, especially immediately after the injury.
It takes two to three days for the initial swelling to go down. After that, you can switch to warm wet towels on your neck. Once you’re sure that the swelling is gone, taking a hot bath might be the best way to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Try a Relaxing Distraction
Just ignoring the pain isn’t likely to work. But with the right distraction, you can fall asleep more quickly and enjoy a deeper sleep.
Examples of relaxing distractions include visualization and meditation. There are apps that can help you fall asleep, but you can also put on some soothing music or try reading a book. Note that browsing the internet is more likely to stimulate than relax your brain.
One More Thought
It’s a good idea to do the little things during the day that will prepare you to get a good night’s sleep. Avoid taking naps, if you can. Eat well, do some stretches, and exchange coffee for soothing herbal tea. All this will speed up your recovery and help you avoid any complications.
– Written By Natasha Nikolova
*Author’s Info: “Natasha sleeps about 7–8 hours on average. Maybe a bit more on the weekends. In her free time, she enjoys travel and listening to music. Natasha’s writing has been featured on multiple international publications.”