Does your neck hurt all the time? Regularly? More often than you’d like it to? Chances are, your neck pain has something to do with your sleep. Even if the neck pain was caused by something else, sleeping in an incorrect position can set it off or make it worse. Fixing your sleep positioning can also be a huge part of the solution to your neck pain issues. If you struggle with neck pain because you’re not sleeping in the right position, here are some ways to lessen it.
Get a New Pillow
Having the right pillow can mean the difference between waking up ready to take on your day and waking up with a sore, stiff neck that makes it feel hard to do anything. You need a pillow that keeps your spine aligned at night. This means that your spine stays straight, without any awkward flexing or twisting.
You may need some help to choose a pillow that’s right for you. You’ll want to test the pillows on the mattress you use at night since different mattress/pillow combinations can cause different alignment issues. Lie on the pillow in the position you normally sleep in. Have someone else check, visually, to see if your spine is straight through your neck. If it is, then that pillow could work for you.
Get a New Mattress
If you have a bad mattress, a new pillow alone won’t make much of a difference. Your mattress may have lost its ability to support your body in such a way that it keeps your neck in alignment. If you replace your pillow but you’re still suffering from neck pain, it’s probably time to look at getting a new mattress.
You can find a mattress that will keep your body in alignment no matter what type of mattress you like. Some people who have a lot of neck and back pain say that memory foam helps them sleep pain-free, but you can find something else if you don’t like the feel or heat of sleeping on foam.
Sleep on Your Side or on Your Back
When you sleep on your stomach, you often end up cranking your head to one side so that you can breathe. This puts constant pressure on your neck, which can lead to neck pain and even injury. If you sleep on your stomach, work on training yourself to sleep on your side or your back.
If you already sleep in one of these other positions and you still end up with neck pain in the morning, try the other one. Back sleepers can try sleeping on their sides and side sleepers on their backs. You may find that the new position is better for your neck. It can take some time to get used to sleeping differently, but you’ll be more comfortable in the long run.
Deal With Your Stress
If you are constantly stressed out, you can end up clenching your jaw or other muscles through the night. This can cause all sorts of problems, neck pain among them. Try journaling or yoga before bed to reduce your stress and the tension you’re carrying into your rest time.
If you’re already in bed and you’re feeling stress, try progressive relaxation to release your stress. Starting with your feet, relax all of the parts of your body, one by one, until you get to the top of your head. Take special care to relax your neck, jaw, and facial muscles, as these can cause nighttime tension to build up.
Treat for Inflammation
Sometimes, rolling over quickly or sitting up startled in the night can cause your neck to spasm. This can cause incredible, awful pain, and it can be hard to go back to sleep, let alone get any decent quality sleep. If this happens to you, start by treating your neck with ice right away. This will lower the inflammation and help your neck to begin healing quickly.
You can also take anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, to help lower your neck pain. You don’t want to take maximum doses of these long-term, but taking them for a few days can help your neck heal. As it heals, begin some gentle stretching. Slowly lengthen the muscles that spasmed without putting too much pressure on them or causing them to spasm again.
You don’t have to live with constant neck pain or any pain that distracts you from the things you love and makes daily life difficult. If you’re waking up with a sore neck and these ideas don’t help, get in touch with your doctor. There may be more going on than you know about right now, and your doctor can help you determine how to take care of yourself so you wake up pain-free.