Back Pain and Whiplash: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

November 11, 2016


Health and Recovery


Nicole West

If you suffer from whiplash or back pain, there's nothing worse than trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. In fact, the way you sleep could actually make the problem worse, as certain angles can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, back and hips.

To top it off, sleep deprivation can affect your mood, which makes you more sensitive to pain and hinders your body's natural healing mechanisms. 

To help you get the restorative benefits of a sound night's sleep, try some of the methods below.

1. Change your sleeping positions

Person sleeping on front and aggrivating whiplash injury

Making some simple modifications to the way you sleep can make all the difference in the comfort stakes. If you're experiencing back pain and you want to lie on your back, place a pillow under your knees, as it helps your spine retain its natural curve.

Sleeping on your stomach may not be a good idea, as it can put additional strain on your back muscles. However, if you choose to do so, put a pillow under your lower abdomen to help reduce pain.

Try a full body pillow, in order to sleep on your side, and place it between your knees with your legs drawn up slightly towards your chest.

If you have whiplash, make sure your neck is supported and in a neutral position while you sleep. You can do this by using a firm contoured pillow or lying on your back and placing the pillow beneath your knees.

2. Choose the right mattress

Bed in empty room with mountains behind large windows

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to mattress comfortability. To deal with reoccurring back pain and uncomfortable injuries like whiplash, you need to find one that's both supportive and comfortable for you, to help keep the spine in alignment, reduce further strains and allow for rejuvenating sleep. If yours is sagging in the middle, chances are it's adding to the problem.

There's no right or wrong when it comes to choosing, because the most important goal is comfort. However, the coils and inner springs of a mattress provide varying levels of support and the top padding offers degrees of thickness, so try as many as you can, to find the perfect one.

3. Stay physically active

Lady walking down wooden pathway

Providing you're on the road to recovery from an injury and you've received medical clearance for exercise, physical activity enhances your ability to avoid reoccurring pain, to get the sleep you need.

Better recovery is often found in people who maintain an active routine, by gradually increasing exercise levels as you heal. It's important to maintain the flexibly and muscle support of your neck and back, by performing specific exercises that a health professional, such as an osteopath or physiotherapist, can recommend. 

Even when you're sitting still or performing normal tasks at home, being aware of your posture and the way you move is crucial to going to bed pain-free. Always correct your posture by gently straightening your spine from your lower back and pelvic region. Make sure your neck isn't straining forward to look at a computer or the TV and that your shoulders area straight, rather than slumped.

At the end of the day, it's also important to relax before going to bed, by having a warm shower or bath, reading, meditating or playing soothing music. That way, you're indicating to your body that it's time to rest, rejuvenate and heal, for best results.

Nicole West

Nicole is a professional writer & novelist from Australia featured in sites including Huffington Post & Lifehack. Nicole has written for Smith's Lawyers on health and injury recovery topics.