How To Sleep With Whiplash

How To Sleep With Whiplash

If you have a whiplash, you should sleep on your back or side with a neck pillow for support since the natural position helps the spine stay aligned.

Whiplash is a common neck injury that usually occurs during car accidents and sporting activities. Like other injuries that affect the vertebrae, whiplash can be agonizing, with pain ranging from mild to severe levels. Apart from seeking medical attention for procedures and medication to heal and ease pain following a whiplash injury, assuming certain sleeping positions also greatly improves the condition. Keep reading to learn more about the sleep positions that can help with whiplash pain and other relevant information about the condition.

Positions to Sleep with a Whiplash to Ease Pain


Sleep On Your Back or Neutral Position

Sleeping on your back, also known as the neutral position, is great for relieving whiplash pain. The position prevents extra pressure from building up in your neck and other parts of your body, including the back, thus preventing pain. It also ensures the neck is properly aligned and adequately supported to avoid any tension that can increase pain. Should you decide to use a pillow while sleeping on your back, ensure it always keeps your neck and back properly aligned.

Sleep on Your Side With a Special Neck Pillow

Besides sleeping on your back, you can consider side sleeping with a special neck pillow. Sleeping on the side makes your spine assume a neutral position that prevents stress from stockpiling on your back. In addition, a specialized neck pillow is designed to keep the head stable while ensuring the neck is well-aligned with the spine. Thus, sleeping on your side with a neck pillow can prevent your neck from hurting and give it ample time to heal.

Sleep on Your Back With Pillows for Support

Some people can’t sleep without a pillow, no matter the issue. If you’re one of them, you’ll be pleased to know that back sleeping with pillow support can help with your whiplash pain. When lying on the back, you should place your pillow in a position that supports the spine’s natural curvature while supporting the head and the neck. Placing another pillow or two under the knees further reduces strain on your back, easing any pressure that can cause pain.

Sleep on Your Side with Appropriate Pillow Placement

Side sleeping with proper pillow placement can help with whiplash pain as well. When sleeping on the side, the pillow should be put in such a way that it supports the head and neck while helping the spine maintain a natural position. Supporting the neck not only prevents pain but also fastens the healing process. A thicker pillow is more suitable for sleeping on the side when experiencing whiplash pain.

Sleep on Your Back with Elevated Head and Upper Body

Sleeping on your back while elevating the head and upper body can lessen the pain of a whiplash injury. Putting a pillow under your back, neck, and head maintains the spine’s natural curvature and cushions it against pressure. This sleeping position promotes optimal spinal health and relieves any whiplash injury. Ensure the pillow isn’t too high or too low to reduce straining.

Sleep on Your Side With a Pillow Between the Knees

While sleeping on your side, you can modify the position by bending the knees and putting a pillow between them. This keeps the spine neutral by preventing the upper leg from rotating downward and distorting the curvature. Thus, placing a pillow between the knees can avert whiplash pain and enhance healing.

Sleep in a Fetal Position

The fetal position, in which you sleep on your side and raise your knees to your chest, can help with whiplash. It’s known as the fetal position because it mimics a fetus’ position in the womb. When you sleep in a fetal position, the spine gets aligned, and there’s no excess pressure exerted on your neck. This position keeps your spine neutral and protected, thus dissipating whiplash pain.

Sleep in a Prone Position With Proper Pillow Support

Sleeping in a prone position means lying down with the chest facing down and the back facing up. While this position is notorious for putting the spine out of alignment, using a pillow to make adjustments can help with whiplash pain. When sleeping with the stomach down, put a pillow under the stomach and pelvis area to keep the spine in proper alignment. This will reduce stress on your spine to avoid any issue that can trigger whiplash pain.

Sleep on an Adjustable Bed

If you’re struggling with sleeping positions amid a whiplash, it would be excellent to get an adjustable bed. An adjustable bed lets you achieve a good sleeping posture. This is because you can adjust the bed into a great position that won’t put too much pressure on your body parts. The mattress contours of an adjustable bed also match your spine’s natural shape when you sleep, offering optimal support.

Helpful Tips for Sleeping with a Whiplash Injury


Use Neck Pillows

Using neck pillows is important when sleeping with a whiplash injury. Special neck pillows provide neck support and keep your head stable while sleeping. The pillow ensures your neck is in alignment with the spine throughout your sleep to ease pain and let the injury heal.

Use Pillows for Support

In addition to a neck pillow, you can use ordinary pillows for support when nursing whiplash. Sleep on your back with the pillow behind the head and neck, or lie on one side with the pillow between bent knees. Alternatively, you can rest in the prone position with a pillow below the pelvic area. Whatever sleeping position you assume, a pillow will help align your spine, allowing you to rest comfortably without pain.

Apply Hot or Cold Compresses

Applying hot or cold compresses before sleep is great for managing whiplash problems. Hot compresses boost blood and nutrient flow to the affected area, thereby fastening the healing process. On the other hand, cold compresses reduce swelling and numb the injured part, reducing pain. Applying hot and cold compresses over time can subside pain and heal the injury quickly.

Use Foam Rollers Before Bed

Foam rolling is an excellent way to relax your neck before settling in for the night. Use foam rollers to self-massage and relieve your neck muscles and joints of any pressure. This will lessen the pain in your neck and help you enjoy a good night’s sleep. Ensure you acquire the right tools and foam roll your neck for at least 15 minutes for better results.

Sleep in Different Positions Throughout the Night

Did you know that sleeping in the same position throughout the night can create and exacerbate pain issues? In that regard, you should consider changing sleep positions every couple of hours to balance things out. Sleeping in different positions will prevent you from stressing your neck or other body parts, assuaging pain.

Perform Physiotherapy Stretching Exercises

There’s no doubt that physiotherapy is effective in promoting faster healing and reducing pain in the neuroskeletal system. If you have a whiplash injury, make it a habit to perform exercises that can strengthen and stretch your spine, including the neck bones. The stretches will reduce whiplash pain, allowing you to sleep soundly.

What is a Whiplash Injury?

Whiplash, also known as a neck sprain or strain, is an injury to the neck. It happens when the neck forcefully bends forward and backward or vice versa. The movement that causes the injury mimics the cracking of a whip – no wonder the injury is called whiplash. While the injury isn’t well understood, it often harms the discs, muscles, nerves, and tendons in the neck. This injury betters within a few weeks through ample rest, proper treatment, and guided exercise.

Common Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury

The symptoms of a whiplash injury are many, depending on its cause and severity. The greater the head extension during injury, the more serious the injury and its symptoms. This is why the injury ranges from grade one to grade four. Some symptoms present themselves immediately after the injury, whereas others may take over 12 hours to show. Common whiplash symptoms include the following:

  • Stiffness when moving
  • Tender to touch neck
  • Mild to severe neck pain that spreads to the head, shoulder, and back
  • Muscles spasms
  • Physical injury signs like bruising and swelling
  • Muscles weakness and numbness in the neck
  • Mild to acute headaches
  • Cervical vertigo
  • Neurological problems

Causes of a Whiplash Injury


Motor vehicle Accidents

Car crashes are the most common cause of whiplash injuries. Most whiplash issues happen from a rear-end automatic collision that forcefully makes the head move forward and backward or vice versa.

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are also culprits for a whiplash injury. This particularly happens in contact sports like boxing, hockey, and martial arts, where the head can receive big blows or get pulled and pushed.

Other Injuries

Other bone and muscle injuries can cause whiplash under certain circumstances. These injuries can be due to falls, heavy blows to the head, physical abuse, and more.

Treatment Options for Whiplash


Pain Relief and Muscle Relaxant Medication

You can take pain relief medication, including over-the-counter and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to manage whiplash pain. Since sprained muscles in the neck can spasm, resulting in more pain, taking muscle relaxers to prevent spasms and give your injury more time to heal is important. Ensure all the medication you take is prescribed by your doctor.

Physiotherapy Exercises

Treating a whiplash injury can always include physiotherapy. This treatment option involves performing guided moves to stabilize neck muscles and improve the range of motion. The exercises help ease symptoms and restore normal functioning.

Heat and Cold Therapies

Alternative therapy like heat and cold therapies can treat a whiplash injury. Applying cold therapy after the injury can decrease swelling, while heat therapies increase blood flow to the affected area. These therapies can treat the injury if done consistently.

Frequently Asked Question


How do you fall asleep with whiplash?

You should sleep on your back if you have a whiplash injury. You can also sleep on the side using a neck pillow to cushion and align your neck and spine. A prone position with a pillow below the pelvic area is another great sleeping style when you have whiplash. Sleeping in the right position is relevant for reducing pain and promoting healing.

Does whiplash get worse at night?

Whiplash pain gets worse at night. This is why maintaining a good sleeping position that doesn’t put much pressure on your spine can relieve pain. The pain can also worsen in the morning.

Can I sleep on my side with whiplash?

Yes, you can sleep on your side with a whiplash injury. However, you’ll have to use a neck pillow to align your spine to its natural position. Alternatively, you can bend your needs and put a pillow between them to achieve alignment. Using a pillow correctly when side sleeping makes you sleep with minimal to no whiplash pain.

Why can’t I sleep after whiplash?

Sleeping with whiplash is difficult because it causes excruciating pain that worsens at night. To sleep, you need to take painkillers or muscle relaxers. You can also practice foam rolling before sleep. When you go to bed, ensure you sleep on your back or any other suitable position for less pain and maximum comfort.

Where does whiplash hurt the most?

Whiplash hurts the neck the most. In addition, it can spread to the head, shoulders, and back.

Does sleep help whiplash?

Getting plenty of rest, including enough sleep, helps with whiplash. Sleeping in the right position to ensure the spine is aligned and not stressed can lead to fast healing.

Do you sleep a lot with whiplash?

Fatigue is a common issue attributed to whiplash, so sleeping a lot is common following an injury. In that regard, you should always make sure you sleep in the right position to avoid pain problems and allow your neck to heal.

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