While most of us have experienced neck pain as a result of sleeping, some of us develop chronic issues with neck pain due to how we sleep at night. This can wind up being incredibly taxing on your everyday life, leading you to question if there are any possible solutions to this problem.
So, is it possible to reduce this type of pain, then? If so, how do you go about this? Can it really be as straightforward as adjusting how you sleep?
The answer is both yes and no.
While changing the position that you sleep in can help to reduce neck strain with some people, with others it may take a little more to resolve the problem completely.
Let’s get to the root of this issue and talk about what can be done so that you can get a better night’s sleep.
Why Your Neck Hurts After Sleeping
When you wake up with a strained or tender neck, you may put it down to sleeping on it wrong.
However, this may not be the only cause of this issue. Instead of sleeping in a position that’s directly causing discomfort in the neck, most people are sleeping in a position that is causing strain to their neck, and it’s primarily due to their pillow.
In a lot of instances, the issue is using too many pillows. In other cases, your pillow may be too firm or too elevated.
This stiffness and straining can cause minor discomfort and pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the neck. These issues can take anywhere from one to three days to heal.
While they’re not a significant injury, it can be enough to impact on the quality of your day to day life. This leads us to the next question: what can you do to avoid waking up like this?
Changing Your Sleeping Position
One of the quickest and simplest changes you can make is what position you sleep in.
If you sleep on your back or your side, these are the best positions for avoiding neck discomfort or strain. This is because both of these positions helps to keep your head aligned with your spine. However, this doesn’t mean that you should completely disregard what type of pillow you’re using. Remember to avoid pillows that force your head into an unnatural position.
If you sleep on your stomach, your head and neck will be elevated.
This will place them in an unnatural position that could last through the night. Inevitably, this will cause the strain that was mentioned before. For this reason, it’s recommended that you try to avoid sleeping on your stomach whenever possible.
If you know that this is going to be difficult, then it’s recommended that you try sleeping with a body pillow you can hold onto. It will help to keep you from turning over in the middle of the night and will imitate the feeling of being on your stomach.
How to Choose a Pillow for Your Sleeping Style
As well as adjusting your sleeping position, you also need to make sure that you have the right pillow for the sleeping position you’re now using.
If you are attempting to sleep on your back, then it’s recommended that you choose a pillow that is round. This will be able to support your neck well by filling in the space where it curves.
If you don’t suffer from any allergies, then a down feather pillow is ideal. However, if you do, there are other options that will do the job just as well. Shredded memory foam is an excellent alternative to down.
If you sleep on your side, then you will want to get a pillow for side sleepers – which is usually on the thicker & firmer side of the pillow spectrum.
When Should You Get Help for Neck Pain?
It is important to remember that not all causes of neck discomfort will automatically go away if you adjust your sleeping position and pillow type.
This means that there are a number of different scenarios where it is appropriate to seek further help. If you find that your neck pain becomes chronic, then you could be dealing with an issue more serious than neck strain.
Examples of other medical issues surrounding the neck include osteoarthritis, whiplash, or worn joints. Some of these may not even show symptoms until a significant injury has happened.
If you are in a lot of pain or your neck is twisted unnaturally, you could be experiencing a medical issue called acute torticollis.
This is a condition that may just be caused by the way you’re sleeping at night, as well as other environmental factors. However, it could also be the result of an injury or infection, which is why it’s essential that you consult your healthcare professional if symptoms persist.
Fortunately, for most people who suffer from neck pain as a result of how they sleep, the solution is optimistically simple.
It often just takes a few minutes of getting used to a new sleeping position and knowing the right pillows to use so that you can try and avoid this type of neck strain in the first place.
Remember, memory foam is an excellent option if you’re allergic to animal products like down.
When trying to avoid neck strain, remember these quick tips:
- Try not to sleep on your stomach.
- Choose the right pillow for your sleeping position.
- Consult your healthcare professional if the pain and discomfort aren’t going away.
Don’t worry – you will sleep better tonight knowing that by implementing a few, straightforward steps, you could be saying goodbye to neck strain in no time.
References and Further Reading
1. Neck Strain: Causes and Remedies
2. Say “good night” to neck pain
3. Diseases & Conditions: Neck pain
4. Torticollis Definition, Causes & Treatment
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