Sleep disturbance after an automobile accident is a common occurrence. Stress from a traumatic event, such as a car accident, can lead to a myriad of sleeping problems if left untreated. After overstimulation, the human brain becomes flooded with neurochemicals, such as epinephrine and adrenaline, that can keep an individual awake. Moreover, an individual’s sleep cycle can be disrupted when these neurochemicals are persistently present in the brain. When sleep cycles are disrupted, individuals may experience insomnia, bad dreams, or daytime fatigue.
There are several common sleep problems associated with auto accidents. Some individuals will experience flashbacks and troubling thoughts associated with the accident, making it difficult or impossible to fall asleep. An individual involved in an automobile accident may feel the need to constantly be on guard, also making it difficult to sleep. Once asleep, nightmares can affect the quality of an individual’s sleep or uncomfortably awaken them back to consciousness.
Many individuals who experience sleep disturbance after an automobile accident may actually be suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is a psychological condition suffered by individuals who experience a traumatic event and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted flashbacks of the event. Individuals suffering from PTSD often feel a loss of control and an inability to help themselves in bad situations.
Studies show that sleep can be greatly affected by PTSD, and suggest that nearly three-fourths of all individuals have sleep disturbances, like insomnia. Insomnia and other related sleep disorders may indicate the presence of a head injury. In fact, sleep disturbance is common following a traumatic brain injury, affecting 30 to 70 percent of individuals, even those who sustain only mild injuries.
Unfortunately, many accident victims are only treated for physical injuries sustained as a result of the accident, but not for their head injuries. Even individuals appearing clear-headed and responsive after an accident may nonetheless have experienced a head injury. Accordingly, many head injuries are not immediately diagnosed and treated, resulting in symptoms that appear after several days or even weeks. Individuals who experience behavioral changes, irritability, or difficulty sleeping should seek the help of a medical professional as these symptoms could indicate the presence of a head injury.
Often, sleep disturbance after an automobile accident is simply the result of pain associated with an individual’s physical injuries. Whiplash, a common phenomenon experienced by accident victims, can cause injury to the neck muscles and ligaments and make sleeping uncomfortable. The lack of sleep as a result of chronic pain can exacerbate an individual’s pain and suffering and cause fatigue. Individuals who are chronically fatigued are more likely to experience problems in their life, relationships, and jobs. Consequently, individuals who experience sleep disturbance are more likely to become depressed.
Sleep disturbances after an automobile accident should be immediately addressed with a medical professional. Florida chiropractor, Dr. Daniel M. Barr, D.C., has been helping individuals suffering from sleep disturbance after automobile accidents since 1984. If you are suffering from a sleep disturbance as a result of an automobile accident, West Coast Wellness Auto Injury Walk-in Clinic is here to help. Call us at (941) 210-3969 for more information.