Why Do I Sometimes Wake Up With A Stiff Neck
It is not uncommon for people to go to bed symptom-free, only to wake up in the morning with an aching neck or back. This type of nighttime-acquired pain can arise due to an unsupportive pillow, a poor , or a sudden movement.
Although pillows are intended to in a neutral position, they can cause symptoms such as a stiff neck when they lack support. Even if your pillow feels comfortable, it may not be an appropriate pillow for minimizing or preventing neck pain. To help support your neck, it may be best to avoid a feather pillow or regular foam pillow, and instead choose a contoured latex, foam, or polyester pillow.
Additionally, recent studies confirm the connection between sleep posture and waking with a stiff neck or an aching back. To help prevent the development of neck or back pain during the night, try sleeping on your side. In studies, the side-sleeping position was found to be the most preventative of spinal symptoms, such as neck pain, while stomach sleeping was most likely to cause spinal pain. Stomach sleeping is believed to induce pain because it places an increased load on spinal tissue.
Prior injuries like can cause neck pain, and the pain can worsen during the night. An aching neck or back may also be caused by sudden movements, such as , a brief involuntary twitching or jerking of a muscle or group of muscles, including neck muscles.
Best Pillows For Back Sleepers
As a back sleeper, you may benefit from a pillow with an extra loft that helps to cradle your neck. Choose a memory foam pillow that provides consistent support and alleviates pressure by molding to your body.
TheTEMPUR-Neck Pillow at Relax The Back is our best pillow for back sleepers and for maximum pressure relief. It supports your neck, allows your shoulders to relax and prevents snoring and sinus issues that may disrupt your sleep. It has a firm feel and is available in multiple sizes.
The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow works not only for back sleepers but side sleepers as well. We recommend this pillow for those who may sleep on their back one night but on their side another.
Best Pillow For Neck Pain For Travel: Bullbird Br2 Travel Pillow $60
“Sleeping sitting up” isn’t really considered a sleep style. However, it’s a necessary evil if you’re embarking on any plane, train, or automobile trips. For that, we suggest the chiropractor-recommended travel pillow for snoozing easier on long trips. It’ll keep your neck perfectly straight as you catch some much-needed zzz’s en route to your location.
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Choosing A Pillow For Sleeping On Your Side
Sleeping on your side is not a natural position, yet it can be very comfortableuntil the added pressure and compression of your nerves causes joint or nerve pain. When sleeping on your side, it is important your pillow supports your head and neck in a way that keeps your spine straight.
Picture a straight line along your spine, from your lower back to your neck and head. When laying on your side, this line should remain straight. You may need a larger pillow to help keep your head straight. To reduce the chances of nerve compression, consider adding a pillow between your knees.
For side-sleepers, you will want a firm pillow that keeps your head elevated.
What Causes Neck Pain
Aroundof people suffer from neck pain every year. Neck pain can be caused by stress, diabetes, and minimum range of motion for long periods of time. If you already have neck pain, then finding a pillow that can mitigate that will be important.
Neck pain can also be caused by age and diseases, such asdegenerative disc disease. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more susceptible you’ll be to such infirmities. Sleeping with good posture is an excellent way to avoid neck pain, and other back pain, altogether. This is called neutral alignment, which is keeping your back straight while you sleep.
However, sleeping with good posture will only get you so far if you’re sleeping with the wrong pillow. Asleep studyhad concluded that poor quality of sleep and waking up with a stiff neck were attributed to poor pillow choices.
Tips To Choose The Right Pillow For Side Back And Stomach Sleepers
“All of us spend most of our night on either our back, stomach, or side,” says Dr. Robbins. “As long as your mattress supports your head, neck, and spinal column in your preferred position, there is no position that is superior to another.”
That bears repeating: No single sleep style or position is inherently “bad” for sleeping. What matters to most sleep professionals is that youre able to fall asleep, and being comfortable is a major part of that. But of course, if neck pain is the problem you’re having, you should know that certain positions can provide aggravation and strain on your neck.
“Sleeping in poor positions may cause prolonged stress to your neck,” says Steven Knauf, DC, executive director of chiropractic and compliance at The Joint Chiropractic, previously told Well+Good. “For example, stomach sleepers often sleep with their head to one side so that they’re able to breathe. Over time, this can stress muscles in the neck, which may cause stiffness or pain.”
No matter your sleep style, the wrong pillow may be the culprit behind your nighttime pain that’s keeping you wide awake.
Thats something to especially consider if your neck pain has long been unbearable, and youve yet to identify the cause. No matter your sleep style, though, the wrong pillow may be the culprit behind your nighttime pain that’s keeping you wide awake. So, here’s what to consider when looking for a new pillow for neck pain, based on your preferred sleep position.
Can Neck Pain Be Treated Without Surgery Click Here To Read Our Guide
Neck sprains are often confused for neck strains, but they are a bit different. Strains are often caused by poor posture , lifting something thats too heavy, or repetitive motions. A neck sprain occurs when a ligament or muscle in the neck is overly stretched. This injury may occur without any obvious reason, but a sudden impact causing the neck to extend beyond its normal range and then snap back is usually the cause. You may not experience the symptoms immediately: they usually take a day or two to present themselves.
Lets talk about treatment. As with all sprains, the body will heal eventually, but the neck could take 4-6 weeks to heal, which sounds like a miserable existence in the interim. Aside from seeing a doctor , there are things you can do to manage your pain. You can apply ice for 15-30 minutes every 3-4 hours to reduce inflammation and apply moist heat to loosen cramped muscles. Under the recommendation of your doctor, you can also get the tender area massaged, seek ultrasound therapy, and perform light exercise.
Neck pain is often attributed to sleeping wrong, so how can you sleep right?
Choosing A Pillow For Sleeping On Your Back
If you tend to lay on your back while sleeping, then your pillow should be able to support the natural curvature of your cervical spine. The pillow should be low, resulting in a naturally comfortable position for your back. Adding a pillow below your knees could help alleviate back pain and is one of the gentlest positions for your spine.
There are a couple of notes about sleeping on your back. If you suffer from sleep apnea or snoring, lying flat on your back can increase the severity of your problem. To relieve this issue, prop your upper body up with an additional pillow.
When laying on your back, look for a firm pillow that supports your neck and shoulders.
How To Get Rid Of Neck Pain From Sleeping Wrong
If youve woken up with sudden neck pain you may have slept in an uncomfortable position. Try changing sleep positions and avoid sleeping on your stomach as this puts a strain on your neck. Do some gentle stretches, have a hot bath, and use ice or heat packs to relieve tension and inflammation.
A quality pillow is essential no matter what your sleep position
Trigger Point Release Of The Levator Scapulae Using A Manual Massager
Targeted muscle: Levator scapulae .
How to do it:
Begin by palpating with your fingers to locate the trigger points in the area.Use the Manual massager/Theracane, with both hands, to apply downward pressure to the middle trigger point at the top of your shoulder blade and hold for 20 to 60 seconds.Move to the trigger point that is located lower in the muscle and apply the same pressure for 20 to 60 seconds.Finally, use the straight part of the Theracane to apply pressure to the highest trigger point for 20 to 60 seconds.
How You Should Sleep To Relieve Neck Or Shoulder Pain
Have you ever laid awake, tossing and turning, because of that annoying ache in your neck or shoulder? Why is it that you can be busy all day, but when you lay down to sleep, you start to feel more discomfort or pain? The reason for this is that your brain is busy handling a million other tasks during the day, not paying attention to the problem in your neck or shoulder.
When you rest in your bed, your mind becomes more aware of the body, fixating on any dull or throbbing pain. In addition, since you are now in a reclined position, the weight of gravity will pull differently on your neck or shoulder, causing strain. The goal is to support the body correctly so that you can have a restful nights sleep.
Here are some tips for finding a comfortable way to sleep:
- Use two pillows, with the top pillow staggered slightly back of the bottom pillow.
- Try to lie on your side or back. Have the bottom pillow supporting your shoulders and the top pillow supporting your neck.
- Hug a pillow, as this will put your top shoulder in an open position. Tuck the pillow up high under the arm.
- Use a pillow between your legs when you are on your side, or behind your thighs if lying on your back. This helps take pressure off your whole spine.
- Use gentle deep breathing when you first lie down, to calm your body down and improve the oxygen flow to your muscles, helping them relax.
Belly Sleep Memory Foam Pillow
- Firmness: Firm
- User Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
While stomach sleeping isnt recommended when you have neck pain, you can only do so much to adjust your go-to position. The Belly Sleep Memory Foam Pillow can help. This pillow is thin and flat, making it perfect for those who like to snooze on their stomach, and it has curved edges to reduce head rotation. Its also infused with cooling gel to keep you comfortable while you sleep and its encased in a bamboo-polyester cover thats odor resistant.
What the Reviews Say: One online five-star reviewer says its made a huge difference in their neck pain. This pillow has absolutely eliminated my neck pain which neither chiropractic adjustments nor massages could do for me, they wrote. I am beyond thrilled. I will be buying more. This pillow will go with me when I travel as well.
How Can I Get Rid Of Neck Pain From Sleeping Wrong
To reduce neck pain from sleeping in the wrong position or from an unsupportive pillow, the following methods may provide relief:
- Apply ice or heat to the neck. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, and use heat after that.
- Apply heat using warm showers or baths, hot compresses, or heating pads.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen.
- Have a partner or professional gently massage your neck.
- Ask your healthcare provider about physical therapy techniques, such as massage, stretching, and strengthening exercises.
Choosing the right pillow may also help prevent or alleviate neck pain. Research shows that people who wake up with a stiff or aching neck may be sleeping on a pillow that is not right for them. To prevent neck pain from sleeping, consider trying a new pillow that is made of foam, polyester, or latex, and that is contoured for optimal head placement.
For chronic neck pain, studies show that using a visco-elastic polyurethane pillow , also known as a memory foam pillow, in conjunction with chiropractic treatment helped people manage their pain. Memory foam pillows appear to be more supportive than other pillow types for this type of pain.
Best Pillow For Neck Pain For Lounging: Original Bones Neckbone Pillow $15
This isn’t necessarily a pillow for sleeping itself, but it’s an affordable chiropractor-approved option for indulging in some pre-bedtime activities. If you’re reading, doomscrolling, or in the middle of a good Netflix binge, squishing up on something like this may keep neck aches away while you’re propped up against a headboard.
Shop Now: Original Bones NeckBone Pillow, $15
Ultimately, if your neck pain really becomes unbearable, be sure to consult a medical professional to see if your sleeping habits are really to blame. And don’t get discouraged if a pillow doesn’t work for you at first. Ultimately, comfort is a personalized measure, and you might have to test the waters a bit to find something that really works. “Try, try try,” Dr. Robbins says. “It’s so important to lie down on a bunch to get a sense of what feels comfortable to you.”
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A Pillow Must Feel Comfortable
A large part of what makes a good pillow is personal preference. If the pillow feels comfortable, it is likely to help one relax, get a good nights sleep, and feel well rested in the morning. The pillows surface can also be a source of comfort some people prefer a pillowcase with a cool, smooth feeling , some prefer warmth , etc.
Best Pillows For Side Sleepers
If you are a side sleeper, a firm pillow is your best choice. Select one that helps to bridge the distance between your ear and your shoulder. To allow more comfort, encourage proper alignment of your spine and prevent rolling on your stomach, you may want to add a pillow between your knees.
OurContourSide Pillow is specifically created for side sleepers. It combines the shape-conforming benefits of a memory foam contour pillow with a unique airflow system to improve your breathing. It helps with proper spinal alignment, neck comfort and head support.
Sleeping In Wrong Position Can Cause Chronic Back Neck Pain: Simple Ways To Improve Your Sleep Posture
If you sleep on your back, you can keep a pillow under the back of the knees to reduce stress on the spine
Representational image. Annie Spratt/Unsplash
Most people have experienced the consequences of sleeping the wrong way – they can range from mild discomfort in your neck or back to feeling pain every time you turn for the rest of the day. The wrong position can also put pressure on your lungs and disturb your sleep. When your sleep gets affected, your overall health is bound to follow. Studies show that worse sleep can lead to problems with concentration, memory and balance and cause mood swings. Prolonged sleep deprivation could weaken your immunity, worsen heart health, decrease sex drive and increase weight.
A study published in BMJ Open in 2019 suggests that sleeping in an improper posture all night can increase your risk of cervical and lumbar pain. In 25-60 percent of cases, cervical and lumbar pain due to improper sleep postures can turn into chronic pain which, in turn, can lead to musculoskeletal disability. The study suggests that this is true for all age groups and recommends that sleeping in the correct posture should be practised by all.
While nobody chooses to sleep in the wrong position, we usually dont make a conscious effort to sleep in the right one either. Heres what you need to know about common sleep positions:
1. Fetal position
2. Log sleeping position
3. Stomach sleep position or freefall position
4. Starfish position
Tips For Starting To Sleep Without A Pillow
If youve always slept with a pillow, itll take time to get used to sleeping without one. Consider these tips if youd like to try pillowless sleeping:
- Gradually reduce your head support. Instead of immediately removing your pillow, start with a folded blanket or towel. Unfold the towel over time until youre ready to sleep without one.
- Support the rest of your body with pillows. When sleeping on your stomach, put a pillow under your stomach and pelvis to help your spine stay neutral. Place a pillow under your knees when youre on your back or in between your knees when youre on your side.
- Choose the right mattress. Without a pillow, its even more important to have a with enough support. A mattress thats too soft will let your spine sag, resulting in back pain.
The Wrong Pillow Can Cause Discomfort
Sleep deprivation is known to affect mood and functional ability and negatively impacts the perception of pain.
It can be difficult to part with your favourite but its important to find the right pillow for your sleep needs, including your preferred sleeping position. Each sleeping position puts strain on your spine in a different way. The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a neutral alignment meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward.
Settling On The Right Pillow
Each pillow has its pros and cons. There isnt one type of pillow that will satisfy everyones needs, Dr. Bang emphasizes. But these guidelines are grounded in research and can help you find a pillow thats right for you. Overall, trying to keep your posture in check during the day and choosing a pillow that supports your neck properly at night should help you more soundly and pain-free. If you continue to have problems, make sure you make an appointment with your
What Is The Best Pillow Positioning For Neck Pain
Sleep experts recommend either back or side sleeping if you suffer from neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach causes your head to bend at a sharp angle and arches your spine, which puts unwanted pressure on your neck. Strict stomach sleepers should choose a pillow with a low loft to minimize pressure.
For best results, back and side sleepers should ensure that their head, neck, and top of the spine form a straight line. Sleeping with a pillow thats too high or too low can cause aches and pains. Likewise, sleeping with your head rolled to one side or the other is also likely to cause neck pain.
Home Remedies For Neck Pain
If you wake up with a sore neck, there are several remedies you can try to help ease the pain. You likely dont need to see a doctor, especially if you dont have any other symptoms, and you havent had a sore neck for long. Here are some self-care options you can try:
- Apply to the sore part of your neck for 20 minutes at a time. This can help reduce inflammation in your neck muscles.
- If youve had pain for a day or more, to the sore area for 20 minutes at a time. This can help to soothe and relax the muscles.
- Try over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen , naproxen , or acetaminophen .
- Do some gentle exercises, like walking or . This can help keep the blood flowing to your neck. Dont stop moving altogether. Not moving can cause your muscles to tighten up.
To help prevent neck pain when you wake up, there are steps you can take to support your neck and reduce the strain on your neck muscles.
A couple of simple exercises can help keep your neck muscles strong and limber, which may reduce the risk of waking up with pain in your neck.
Follow A Neck Exercise Regime
Simple stretches help ease the pressure off the stiffed neck. The following exercises are worth a try:
- Place one of your hands on the side of the neck. Softly push the hand against the neck. Rotate your head in all directions for at least five to ten seconds. Now, place your hand on the other side of the neck and repeat the same exercise.
- Push your head back in a way that your chin points towards the ceiling. After this, return to the neutral position.
- Bend your head in a way that your chin touches your chest. As you perform this exercise, make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Maintain this position for twenty seconds, and then, repeat.
- Lie straight. Bend your knees while supporting your neck and head by keeping a pillow underneath. Now, move your head as if youre nodding. Hold this position for ten seconds. Relax and repeat this exercise ten times.
Since these stretches cause your neck to slightly move in circular motions, it will help rejuvenate your neck muscles while enhancing the blood flow throughout the tissue. This will provide immediate comfort to the neck.
If all this doesnt treat the neck pain because youre having pain on a consistent basis, consult a chiropractor for further advice. A will check your X-rays and will suggest a treatment that provides permanent relief from neck pain caused by sleeping the wrong way.
Signs Youre Sleeping On The Wrong Pillow
Most people spend much more time thinking aboutwhat mattress to buy, and less time wondering if their pillow is right for them. But many people suffer needlessly from sleepless nights or wake up in pain simply by using the wrong pillow. Because sleep is a critical health issue, using the wrong pillow every night can lead to chronic problems over time.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign youre sleeping on the wrong pillow.
Other Factors Affecting Sleep
The reduction of stress will normally enable those who have difficulty staying asleep, to sleep for longer periods. This will restore sleep to what it is truly meant to be: a fully remedial and refreshing experience.
The average number of movements in sleep is approximately 50-80, although this can be reduced to 18-20 on the correct sleep surface. The human body has approximately 700 muscles, most of which need to relax during sleep! Certain muscles, such as calf muscles act as blood pumps and assist circulation during sleep, but most muscles associated with the spine should relax when sleeping.
Insomnia, a total lack of sleep, can be attributed in many cases to a poor or unsuitable mattress, or even something as simple as an incorrect pillow. Many insomniacs are simply over-sensitive to poor skeletal support, shoulder compression, or dysfunction of the cervical spine . Stress related insomnia can be relieved when the muscular system is allowed to recover during sleep, which will normally give longer periods of sleep to these sufferers.
Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow
- Firmness: Plush
- User Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Specially designed for side sleepers, Eli & Elms side sleeper pillow has a unique U-shape to support your neck and promote spinal alignment. The pillow is adjustable, so you can find the level of firmness and fill that works best for you. Its also anti-microbial, mildew-proof and dust mite-resistant, if allergies are a concern.
What the Reviews Say: One neck pain sufferer who gave the pillow a five-star review said that the Eli & Elm pillow was the clear winner after testing out several options. It is very soft and comfy, yet very supportive for my neck as well. I love the way the curve wraps around my neck and back. It’s like sleeping on a soft, supportive cloud, they wrote. The only problem I’ve found with this pillow is that it’s SO comfortable that I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning!