Motorcycle Accidents Can Affect Your Sleep Patterns
If you’ve been involved in a serious motorcycle accident, it’s likely one of the most traumatic events you’ll ever experience in your life. The shock, the pain and suffering, the emotional trauma—they all can derail your normal life and put you on a downward spiral toward depression, anxiety, financial difficulties, and more.
That direct and indirect impact on your quality of life can be reflected in many ways. You may experience chronic pain, mood or personality changes, physical difficulties, and even alterations to lifelong habits. However, one of the most common “side effects” of a serious motorcycle accident is the inability to sleep.
If you can’t sleep after a motorcycle accident, you’re not alone. In fact, research suggests that victims of motorcycle accidents and other traumatic crashes are three times more likely than an average person to suffer from insomnia. In addition, 30%-70% of individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injury (usually caused by motor vehicle accidents here in California) suffer from disrupted sleep patterns.
This disruption can increase the risk of other stress-related disorders (such as anxiety disorder and PTSD) which, conversely, increase your risk of suffering from insomnia. Add to that the emotional stress, physical toll, and changes in mood caused by lack of sleep and you can see how the victim in any motorcycle accident can quickly slide down a dark path from which it may be very difficult to recover.
Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep After a Motorcycle Accident
Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to helping victims regain normal sleep patterns after a crash. If you can’t sleep after a motorcycle accident, it’s not likely that the reason behind your insomnia is the same as the next person’s. In fact, there are a large number of underlying causes and contributing factors which may be adding to your inability to sleep.
Physical pain during the recovery process is one of the most common causes of insomnia after a motorcycle accident. When you’ve suffered physical injury in a motorcycle accident, trauma, pain and discomfort become a normal part of your everyday life. When that pain and discomfort interfere with normal sleep patterns, they can contribute to a whole host of other problems including mood instability, weight loss or weight gain, inability to focus on important things like work or family, and may even cause serious emotional distress.
Treating physical pain after a motorcycle accident isn’t often easy. Even after the restorative surgeries and the discharge from the hospital victims often requires months or even years of physical therapy to regain normal range of motion and functionality in their extremities. In some cases, that functionality never returns and victims must adjust to their new “normal.”Pain medications are also often prescribed to help combat the physical effects of a motorcycle accident but results vary greatly based on an individual’s specific injuries, their tolerance thresholds, and their susceptibility to medication. Often individuals are reluctant to engage in extended pharmaceutical treatments for pain due to the risk of addiction.Alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, and holistic remedies are becoming a much more accepted method to help specific individuals cope with chronic pain. However, the results these methods provide are often hard to verify until treatment has already begun.No matter which method (or combination of methods) you choose to help manage your physical pain, the financial cost of that therapy can be startling. While insurance may cover much of the cost, victims are often left carrying high deductibles and fighting low payout thresholds.Any aspect associated with physical pain after a motorcycle accident can cause stress. And, unfortunately, stress is also one of the leading causes of insomnia.
Stress and Anxiety
When you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s hard to pinpoint one single thing that doesn’t cause you stress and anxiety.
- You’re worried about your physical recovery.
- You’re worried about the stability of your job.
- You’re worried about your family’s financial future
- You’re worried about getting the at-fault party to pay for the damages they’ve caused..
- You’re worried about everything.
And all of that stress can lead to serious mental health issues including diagnosable disorders.Unfortunately, when we’re not in a healthy place mentally, our bodies suffer. Insomnia is one of the most common side effects of anxiety. But the correlation isn’t necessarily caused by our inability to shut our brains off at night.Mental stress creates physical states of excitement via the release of certain chemicals in the body. These chemicals keep us in a perpetual state of over stimulation. Measurable physical effects of mental stress include:
- Increase heart rate
- Increased respiratory rates
- Increased galvanic skin response (sweating)
- High blood pressure
- Increased levels of certain hormones
- Decreased levels of natural mood-altering chemicals which contribute to mental stability
So, in addition to that constant state of worry, your body is constantly fighting to stay awake. Unfortunately, if you don’t get solid sleep on a regular basis, you’re only going to get even more stressed—which perpetuates this vicious cycle.Stress and anxiety may grow until they reach the threshold to be qualified as a diagnosable disorder. In such cases, doctors may often use prescription medications, therapy, or some combination of the two to treat individuals and either mitigate stress levels or help victims learn effective coping skills.
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PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a collection of symptoms directly attributable to stress caused by a traumatic event (such as a motorcycle accident). While we most often think of PTSD in correlation with veterans who have seen combat in war zones and survivors of terrible newsworthy tragedies, any extremely traumatic event—no matter how personal—can trigger PTSD in individuals.Symptoms of PTSD related to your motorcycle accident may include:
- Recurring nightmares (usually victims “relive” their accidents)
- Persistent flashbacks
- Obsessing about the crash
- Consciously (or subconsciously) avoiding the scene of the accident
- Mood changes
- “Numbness” or withdrawal from social aspects of your life
- Irritability or emotional outbursts (anger, uncontrollable sadness, fear)
If any or all of these symptoms persist for more than one month after your motorcycle accident, you should seek professional help. While medications can help with the stress of PTSD, often victims find some form of therapy beneficial in order to put their mind (thus their life) back in order after a crash.
It’s natural to be upset after a motorcycle accident but if that emotional unrest continues for longer than a week or two, it may be a sign of something more serious.Depression is another very real risk you run after living through a serious motorcycle accident. Depression can be caused by physical injury, emotional distress, or even a physiological (chemical) imbalance in your body and brain. While nobody truly understands exactly what causes diagnosable depression in every individual, most experts suspect it’s a combination of multiple causes that create the symptoms typically associated with clinical depression. These symptoms include:
- Feeling detached from family, friends, society
- Decreased engagement in activities you previously enjoyed
- Feelings of sadness or fear
- The inability to control your emotions
- Weight gain or loss (caused by changes in eating habits)
How common is the inability to sleep in individuals suffering from depression associated with some sort of trauma? That’s a difficult statistic to nail down because not only will depression cause insomnia but chronic insomnia can contribute to depression.However, if you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s in your best interest to seek professional medical help as soon as you can. These symptoms may be contributing to your sleeplessness after your motorcycle accident but they also may be doing more damage that you don’t even recognize.
Treatment for Insomnia After a Motorcycle Accident
Your doctors and therapists can help you create a unique treatment regimen for sleeplessness caused by the trauma of a motorcycle accident. The most effective approach is to treat the underlying cause of insomnia (physical pain, for example) while helping to alleviate the symptoms of sleeplessness with or without the use of sedative medication.Treating your insomnia won’t produce results overnight. Often victims of traumatic accidents suffer for months or even years after their initial crash. And that treatment isn’t cheap.Fortunately, if your insomnia is tied to the trauma of a motorcycle accident, the individual who caused that accident can be held financially liable for every aspect of your life that’s been impacted. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney in California will be able to help you craft a demand letter that accounts for every component of the cost associated with your recovery. That includes long-term treatments for disorders caused by your accident (such as insomnia) and the financial impact associated with those disorders.For example, if your physical pain is causing insomnia that affects your ability to work, you may be able to seek damages for the amount your salary was impacted in addition to the dollar figure associated with your medical treatment. In some cases, “pain and suffering” may even be factored in to account for the emotional distress caused by your injuries. So if you can’t sleep after a motorcycle accident, don’t just assume it’s because you’re worrying too much. Really take a look at your symptoms and compare them to those listed above. You may be suffering from any of the serious but treatable disorders mentioned above. And one of the components of a successful recovery is seeking treatment sooner rather than later.