Monday, August 15, 2022

How To Avoid Neck And Back Pain While Sleeping

Don't Miss

Sleeping On Your Side With Leg Support

How To Sleep To Avoid Back And Neck Pain

If you face lower back and neck pain constantly, you should try out sleeping on your side. More importantly: You should sleep on your side with leg support. In doing so, you can maintain your backs naturally curved position. Rest on your side, keep your knees bent, slightly, and keep your hips straight. By letting your top hip flop a little, youll prevent lumbar rotationand thus prevent nightly, and morning, pain.

The Best Sleeping Positions For Your Neck And Spine

  • >
  • The Best Sleeping Positions for Your Neck and Spine

Your body doesnt shut down when you sleep. The night is a regenerative time. Our bodies are mending and rejuvenating so that when we wake up we feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Thats not always automatic, though. When it comes to back and neck pain, your body needs a little help from you to get things right.

The position in which you sleep has a direct impact on your spine health. Most of us will wake up at some point in our lives with neck or back pain and oftentimes our sleeping position is the culprit. What can we do to fix it? In short, the way to ensure a happy spine is to keep it neutral. Neutral means that your spine is straight. This starts with your head and neck and goes all the way down. Even things like having your hips/pelvis tilted one way can in turn twist your spine.

Below is a breakdown of the four most basic sleeping positions.

The Overall Best: On your back. Sleeping on your back evenly distributes weight throughout your body and avoids unnatural or unnecessary curves in the spine. Use a small pillow underneath the head and neck to keep everything in alignment. Even better, a small cylindrical pillow in the crook of your neck supports your neck and keeps your head neutral on the mattress. Do note, though, that this sleeping position can cause some people to snore.

    Independently and Privately Owned |

Why Your Neck Hurts When You Wake Upand What To Do About It

Youve been sleeping pretty much every night since, oh, your entire life . Dont you just hate it when you wake up with back or neck pain? You might think, How did I mess up laying down, closing my eyes and doing nothing?

Dont worry, you didnt do anything wrong. You can wake up with a stiff neck after sleeping for a few reasons. Whats most encouraging is that there are a few simple fixes that can prevent you from getting neck pain from sleeping, and some actions you can take to relieve any pain you do have.

Recommended Reading: Lidocaine Cream For Sciatica

Side Sleeping And Shoulder Pain Or Neck Pain

Many of my clients are side sleepers but they need some coaching on side sleeping and shoulder pain. The tips below also apply if you have neck pain and side sleep.

  • The key elements to a comfortable side sleeping position is supporting your entire body in a side-lying position.
  • You want to ensure that your pillow fills in the space between your shoulders and your neck and that its not sitting under the shoulder. It should support you at the neck.
  • You could also use a rolled towel in your pillow case to support your cervical spine for support.
  • The pillow that works for me tends to be a feather pillow, but thats not the case for everybody, especially if youre allergic to feathers.
  • The little belt that Ive created provides me with support between my pelvis and my lower rib cage.
  • I suggest that you put a pillow between the knees and ankles to create a supported position for your pelvis.
  • Your spine is now supported at the small of the waist and your spine is totally straight.
  • A point that I forgot to mention in the video, is to align your shoulder directly beneath your torso.
  • Avoid letting your shoulder roll forward.
  • There are more tips below for shoulder pain sufferers.

The Best And Worst Sleeping Positions Depend On Your Pain

Theme Options

The first thing to know is that the best sleeping position to ward off pain varies from person to person. Itll take some experimenting to find out what works best for you, but you can narrow down positions to avoid based on the body part thats giving you trouble.

Generally, if you have neck pain, the worst position would be sleeping on your stomach, because when youre sleeping on your stomach, you have a preferential side where youre rotated, Pham explains. Spending the entire night with your head turned to that same side can lead to neck issues over time, even if it feels comfortable as youre falling asleep.

If your back is the issue, particularly your lower back, sleeping on your back can often make it worse, especially if you have a softer mattress.

Most peoples center of mass is more around their hip area. That makes the mattress crease down, Pham says. So essentially, when you sleep on your back, youd be sleeping in a low-angled V. If you already have back pain, that angle could exacerbate it because it puts your lower spine in a flexed position.

Whether you have low-back or neck pain, the position where many of Phams patients find the most success is on their side. But, of course, theres a catch: This strategy tends to work best when you rotate the side you sleep on regularly.

If you consistently sleep on one side, you may find that one side of your body is tighter over timeits an issue you can get ahead of, but more on that later.

2 of 7

You May Like: Stomach Aches Sign Of Pregnancy

Other Tips For Neck Pain Sufferers

In addition to choosing the right pillow, you can reduce neck pain through lifestyle changes like adopting proper posture, taking stretching breaks, and generally being more active. People who suffer from neck pain should avoid shoulder bags, slouching, and long periods of sitting at the computer.

  • Choose the Right Mattress: Your bodys overall position is influenced not only by your pillow, but also your mattress. Plusher mattresses allow your body to sink down further, meaning youll need a lower-loft pillow. The opposite holds true for firmer mattresses, which will require a higher pillow to maintain proper alignment of the neck and spine.
  • Engage in Physical Therapy: From daily habits to more serious regimens, there are plenty of exercises you can do to relax your neck muscles and relieve strain on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. A certified massage therapist or chiropractor may also be able to help. Always consult a health professional before starting any kind of treatment.
  • Use Ice or Heat: Many neck pain sufferers receive instant relief from a hot or cold compress, or from taking a warm shower. This may not cure your neck problems, but it can be a helpful short term solution.

Try Gentle Yoga Stretches Before Bed

Research has shown that yoga or intensive stretching can help reduce low back pain. It can also help reduce your stress and make you sleep better.

Talk to your doctor about which poses are safe for you to practice and which ones wonât make your pain worse. It might be helpful to start off using yoga props like blocks and bolsters for added support so that you can hold poses comfortably. And taking a few yoga classes with an instructor to be sure youâre doing the poses and breathing correctly — which is key to relaxation — isnât a bad idea either.

Recommended Reading: Wrist Arthritis Home Remedies

Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain

The best sleeping position for lower back pain is widely considered to be on your back. This position distributes the weight along the entire spine. Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine.

For those who sleep on their side, placing a firm pillow between the knees helps to maintain the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis and spine. However, if you are a side sleeper, try to alternate sides. This will help to avoid muscle imbalance and perhaps even scoliosis. In addition, side sleeping in a curled-up fetal position may help those with herniated disc pain.

Lying on your stomach is considered the worst sleeping position for back pain. However, if it is difficult to change sleeping positions, place a thin pillow underneath your hips and stomach to improve the alignment of the spine.

Poor Sleeping Positions For The Neck And Back

How To Prevent Neck Pain From Sleeping

The sleep position to avoid is sleeping on your stomach, because it leads to poor spinal alignment. In this position, your neck has to be bent sideways in order for you to breathe. This is the position that usually results in waking up with a stiff neck. Sleeping in an odd bent position also misaligns your neck and spine and should be avoided.

Other poor sleeping positions involve using incorrect pillows. If you use pillows that are too high or stiff, your neck will be higher than the rest of your spine and can cause your neck to be sore the next day. Alternatively, sleeping with a pillow thats too low can have the same effect, with your neck being too low compared to your spine. Finally, make sure youre not sleeping with your shoulders on the pillow. Only your head and neck should be on the pillow not your shoulders. If you get the urge to put your shoulders on the pillow because your neck is being pushed backward or forward, your pillow is probably not the right size.

You May Like: Can Stiff Neck Cause Nausea

Break The Vicious Cycle Of Back Pain From Sleep

If you’re like most people with chronic neck or back pain, one of the biggest problems you have to deal with is getting to sleep and staying that way. Often it’s the unrelenting pain that is responsible for a sleepless night, but sometimes, the way you position yourself may contribute, and make things worse. And of course, lack of sleep will most likely only increase your pain.

It’s a vicious cycle.

In the spirit of doing everything you can to disrupt this negative spiral, here are some ideas on how to support your body keep pressure off your spine when you sleep.

Get Out Of Bed Correctly

One aspect of sleeping and posture we often overlook is the bit where we actually get out of bed. How you sit up and emerge from the lying down position to standing can strain your back if you arent careful. Here are some pointers to help you8:

  • Be slow and gentle in your movement, avoiding any kind of jerky or rapid motion.
  • Roll on to either side and slowly push up with your hands as you swing your legs off the side of the bed.
  • Do not bend forward from your waist as you get off the bed because it could injure your back.


Recommended Reading: Is Ice Or Heat Better For Sciatic Pain

Take Care When You Sleep

Dr. Bang says if your neck is bothering you, you also should pay attention to your sleep positions. Sleep only on your side or on your back never on your stomach, he says.

When you sleep on your stomach, often you will end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time, Dr. Bang says. Sleeping on your stomach also can affect your low back because your belly sinks in to the bed if you dont have enough support.

For minor, common causes of neck pain, try these simple remedies:

  • Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with warm showers, hot compresses or a heating pad. Be sure not to fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place to avoid skin injuries.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Keep moving, but avoid jerking or painful activities. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation.
  • Do slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear. This helps to gently stretch the neck muscles.
  • Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.
  • Try sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.
  • Ask your health care provider about using a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort. Dont use the collar for a long time. Doing so can make your neck muscles weaker.

If the pain gets in the way of your daily activities, Dr. Bang says to call your doctor.

Two Reasons For Torticollis

sleeping position

So now we know the what of neck pain from sleeping. What about the how?

Generally when you wake up with neck pain, there are one or two issues at play here. Either your pillow isnt right for you, the position in which you sleep is aggravating your neck, or both.

You might think that a hard pillow can hurt your neck, but its usually a pillow thats too soft that makes you wake up with neck pain. Just like you need to keep your cervical spine aligned during the day to avoid overly taxing your muscles and ligaments, you need to do the same at night. Its harder, though you can make a conscious effort in daylight, but how can you control your posture when youre asleep?

Your pillow is the answer. A nice, firm pillow will keep your spine in a straight line from your atlas down to your coccyx . Any deviation from straight runs the risk of torticollis, so avoid it by making sure your pillow is right.

Your pillow or your sleeping position could be the culprit.

The way you sleep can also have a profound effect on the way you wake upready to face the day or ready to crawl back under the covers and hide from your neck pain. The best sleeping position for neck pain is usually on the back.

Back sleeping may not be right for youit can aggravate sleep apnea, for example. In that case, sleeping on your side is the next best thing. Try to avoid stomach sleeping it can put pressure on nerves that start in your neck, leading to further neck pain or radiculopathy .

Recommended Reading: Slitting Your Wrist

Could Upper Back Pain Mean Something More Serious

There is always a chance that your upper back pain could be caused by a much bigger problem. Degenerative Disc Disease , a herniated disc, and osteoarthritis are possible underlying problems causing your upper back pain. Shapiro cautions that while pain should never be ignored, normal muscle soreness from exercising is nothing to be concerned about. He warns, however, that you should question intense pain that doesnt go away over time. If you notice symptoms like fever, chills, tingling in your chest or stomach along with your upper back pain you should see your doctor.

Sharp, shooting, radiating, severe, unexplained acute pain or chronic pain lasting more than a few days could be your body’s way of telling you that something more serious is going on, Shapiro says.

The Ideal Sleep Position: On Your Back

The best position to avoid back pain is lying flat on your back. Even so, many people find it the hardest way to enjoy deep sleep. For optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath your head or neck and another underneath your knees. If youre pregnant, however, you should avoid this position because it decreases blood circulation to the heart and baby.

Don’t Miss: Ways To Sprain Your Wrist

How Your Mattress Or Pillow Can Worsen Your Pain

Sleeping on the wrong mattress or pillow could also be a cause of concern, especially for sleepers with shoulder pain. When it comes to neck pain, your pillow is going to play a bigger role in your comfort level since the main purpose of a pillow is to support your head and keep your neck in neutral alignment.

Sleepers with shoulder pain should be extra wary of their mattress choice, especially for those who are side sleepers. To avoid exacerbating your shoulder pain, you will want to make sure you have a mattress that isnt too soft or too firm. If a mattress is too soft, you could sink too far into it and experience pain from bottoming-out onto the firm base layer.

On the other hand, if a mattress is too firm, you wont be able to sink in enough and will feel pressure build up in your shoulders.

Fortunately neck pain from common pains & strains, poor posture, overuse and incorrect sleeping positions can be treated at home, with many options to improve your sleep experience.

Neck And Spine Support

Best Sleeping Posture to Avoid Neck and Low Back Pain

There are people who are suffering from spinal problems that also lead to neck pain. In order for them to sleep properly is that they often wear neck and spine supporters.Posture corrector like a body brace are recommended. Neck and spine supporters for sleeping are also available.

These supporters have varieties and you need to check with your doctor for you to know what kind of supporter you will need.

Also Check: Is Heat Good For Sciatic Pain

How To Sleep With A Stiff Neck And Shoulder Or Back

To avoid aggravating a sore shoulder, its a good idea to sleep either on your opposite side or your back. If youre on your back, you can try putting a pillow next to your sore shoulder to discourage yourself from rolling that direction in the middle of the night.

For back pain, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach puts excess stress on your vertebrae. Some positions that you may find help relieve your pain include:

  • sleeping on your back slightly reclined
  • sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees
  • sleeping in the fetal position
  • sleeping with a pillow between your knees

2015 study found that people with chronic neck pain are less likely to improve if they experience poor sleep quality. Making sure youre getting a good nights sleep is one of the best ways to heal from neck pain.

Ibuprofen may help reduce your pain if youre dealing with an acute issue. Make sure you dont take it on an empty stomach, dont exceed more than 1,200 milligrams in 1 day, and dont take it longer than 10 days unless approved by a doctor.

Some people find that heat and ice also helps them manage their pain. You can alternate between the two, depending on which provides more relief.

Gently stretching your neck before bed and when you first wake up may also help you manage your pain.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the following stretches may help:

More articles

Popular Articles

What To Do For Nerve Pain

How To Cure Wrist Pain At Home