Sleeping After a Car Accident – Facts You Should Know
Quality sleep has been called “the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together,” and is such an important aspect of our wellbeing that even ancient medical systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine call it a pillar of living. Unfortunately, being in a car accident can cause all sorts of problems when it comes to getting a restorative night of solid rest. How can sleep be impacted following a car accident?
Not Falling Asleep?
The surprise and stress of a car accident can immediately induce a state of shock that rattles the steadiness of the nervous system. The “Fight or Flight” stress response that keeps us safe can get stuck in an “on” mode, which makes it a challenge to settle your mind and let your guard down enough to fall asleep. If you sustained an injury in the impact, casts or braces can make it difficult to find a comfortable resting position, and the pain of those injuries can also impede drifting; nagging discomfort will keep even the most exhausted from settling in for shut-eye.
Even if you’re able to greet Mr. Sandman, the stress of the accident experience can keep your brain more active than usual, with busy or terrifying dreams leading to restless rather than restorative slumber. Humans sleep in cycles, and most people dream as part of this process, to prune and organize memories and experiences. The trauma of the accident could result in nightmares, reducing sleep’s ability to calm and soothe the mind. Regularly adjusting your sleep position because of pain is another reason you’re not able to wake up feeling rested. Even the deepest sleepers’ cycles will be disturbed as they shift all night to soothe their aches and pains. Also, sleep cycle disturbances are noted in up to 47% of people that have experienced a brain injury, and can include restless limbs and even sleep apnea. Disrupted sleep leaves you feeling exhausted as you move through your day, and even impairs your ability to function at work or behind the wheel.
Sleeping Too much?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some car accident victims my find it hard to get out of bed. In addition to the emotional trauma of an accident, other aspects of life that are impacted could influence mental wellbeing, and sleeping more than usual is often a symptom of depression. Additional reasons for excessive sleeping are headaches and brain injuries, which are a leading cause of hospitalization according to the Centers for Disease Control. This can be caused by the brain striking the interior of the skull because of the forces of an impact, and sleeping more than usual can be an indication that you’ve suffered a concussion or worse, necessitating further medical intervention.
The mental, emotional, and physical repercussions of a car accident can impact every area of your life, and getting quality sleep is necessary to process the experience and to create a healing environment in your body to repair the damage. If pain is keeping you from a restorative night’s rest, the caring and compassionate team at Midwest Anesthesia and Pain Specialists is ready to support your wellness. Call us today at 773-917-8400 with your questions and to arrange an appointment!