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How To Sleep With Pillow Neck Pain

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Neck Pain: Best Pillows And Sleeping Positions For Relief

Towel roll with pillow to sleep better with neck pain

Having neck pain? Youre not alone. In fact, most of us have experienced it. Up to 70% of adults report that neck pain negatively impacts their lifestyle and daily activities. But what you might not know is that relief may be as simple as changing your bed pillow.

To determine which pillow works best for you, think about how you sleep. What is your normal sleeping position? There are three:

  • Back sleepers
  • Side sleepers
  • Stomach sleepers

Each position requires a different kind of pillow to better align your cervical spine and soothe your aching neck.

The best pillow for back sleepers

Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions for relieving neck pain. For those that sleep best in this position, a thin or a cervical pillow are excellent options. A cervical pillow is specially designed to support the neck and head. It provides the correct spinal alignment and relieves pressure better than a thin pillow would. Alternatively, you can slide a small neck roll pillow into the pillowcase of your thin pillow, as it aids in proper neck positioning. Also, try placing a pillow under their knees to help cut strain on the lower back.

The best pillow for side sleepers

The best pillow for stomach sleepers

Tips for best sleeping positions

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.

Sleeping Well On Your Side

Most people sleep on their side, and its a strong choice, with two important caveats. Sleeping with your bottom arm under your pillow or your top leg stretched out can lead straight to shoulder and neck pain. Side sleep can also put pressure on your stomach and lungs, but for the most part its a safe and popular choice.

Sleeping on your side is especially good for:

Sleep with your legs supported try a pillow between the length of your legs for the most back pain relief.

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Change Your Head Angle Slowly

Drastic changes can actually increase pain! Its best to take it slow and allow your body to adjust. Dont just go from a thick pillow to none – your neck muscles may not know whats hit them!

Go from a thick one, to a thinner one, then an almost-not-even-there pillow, and then to no pillow. Take a few days to get used to each before changing again! This adjustable pillow would be a great tool for you!

How To Choose A Pillow For Neck Pain

Best Pillow for Side Sleeping With Neck Pain

For neck pain sufferers, choosing the right pillow can be a key step toward living pain-free. The right pillow will depend on your individual needs. Well walk you through the most important considerations, including how to choose the best material, shape, and thickness for your individual sleeping style.

Read Also: Is Heat Or Ice Better For Sciatica Pain

Match Your Pillow Height With Your Sleeping Position

While there is no single pillow height that works best for all sleepers, you want a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. To help ease the stress on your neck, follow these guidelines for choosing the correct pillow based on your preferred sleeping position:

  • Back Sleepers may benefit from a thin pillow. Test if a pillow is right for you by lying down on the pillow and having a family member or friend take a picture of the curve of your neck. Ideally, the curve of your neck will look similar to when you’re standing with good posture .

    See Different Types of Pillows

  • Side Sleepers typically need a thicker pillow than back sleepers to ensure the neck and head are positioned in the middle of the shoulders. Your height and the width of your shoulders will help determine the kind of pillow you ought to buyso if youre petite you will need a slimmer pillow than if youre broad-shouldered.
  • See Best Pillows for Different Sleeping Positions

If youre a back or side sleeper, you may also benefit from placing a small roll-shaped pillow under your neck for additional supportor you can simply use a rolled-up towel.

Consider An Adjustable Bed Frame

You can also look into an adjustable frame, like The Yaasa Adjustable Bed, which you could use instead of a pile of pillows to prop your body up safely at night. This adjustable bed system has a one-touch flat sleep feature, so you can go from sitting upright to comfortably lying down for zero-gravity sleep in a matter of seconds. It works with most mattresses and has built-in luxury features like USB outlets and a backlit wireless remote with LED lighting so you can have everything you need at your fingertips. No straining necessary.

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Choosing The Best Pillows For Neck And Shoulder Pain

In addition to choosing a mattress for shoulder pain, you should look to buy a comfortable pillow for neck and shoulder pain relief because pillows keep your head in line with your spine and prevent your neck muscles from straining. Buckwheat, latex, down, and memory foam pillows are best for relieving nerve pain because they contour to your head and neck and provide excellent pressure relief.

How Do I Treat Neck And Shoulder Pain

How to Sleep with Pillows, Pillow Sleeping Tips for Back & Neck Pain | Inner Sun Chiropractic Austin

Most neck and shoulder pain passes within a few days or weeks with the help of home remedies. Over-the-counter pain reliever, hot and cold compresses, pain-relief ointments, and self-massaging combat achiness. Having good posture, avoiding heavy lifting, and gentle stretching are other ways to ease your pain.

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Best Pillow For Neck Pain For Back Sleepers: Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow Contour Pillows For Neck And Shoulder Pain $50

To recap, back sleepers need something relatively flat and can forgo pillows entirely if they so choose. But if you’re someone who loves a little bit of supportor a lot a bit of supporttry a cervical memory foam pillow. Also, consider pairing it with a pillow under your knees to get the slight curve that’s necessary for lumbar alignment.

Ditch Your Phone Before Bedtime

Believe it or not, your phone could be hindering your sleep in a couple ways by:

  • Causing neck pain. Many people bend their head down to look at the phone while texting or browsing the web. The further you bend your head forward, the more stress it puts on the cervical spineup to 60 pounds of force.1 Spending too much time looking down at the phone may cause neck pain, also commonly called text neck.

    See Text Neck Treatment and Prevention

  • Disrupting the sleep cycle. Your phone emits a blue light, which may be problematic at nighttime when your body is trying to get ready for sleep. Some studies suggest that exposure to blue light may inhibit sleep by delaying your bodys release of melatonin.2 Since sleep is an important part of the bodys healing process, less sleep may also contribute to neck pain.

Try these 4 easy stretches before bedtime. Watch:4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain Video

Stretching your neck loosens tight muscles and may help relieve pain. Here is one easy neck stretch you can try before bed to loosen your levator scapulae muscle .

  • Sit up straight with both hands at the sides.
  • Raise the right arm forward and reach over the back with the hand grasping the right shoulder blade and applying downward pressure.
  • While keeping everything else still, rotate the head to the left about 45 degrees .
  • Tilt the chin downward until a good stretch is felt on the back right side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, or as tolerated.
  • Repeat on other side.
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    Wrong Type Of Pillow For Your Neck

    Like mattresses, your pillows are a factor in the health of your neck while you sleep. If youve been using an overstuffed pillow or one that is too thin, you could potentially be hurting your neck more than helping it. You should always make sure your neck is supported by your pillow, which often means having a taller pillow for your neck than your head. If your neck is not touching a pillow at all, that means it doesnt have proper support.

    How We Chose The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

    Best Pillow for Neck Pain

    We rounded up a list of top consumer-rated pillow options that can help relieve neck pain while you sleep.

    We looked mainly for foam and latex pillows. Why? Because research suggests that these materials are helpful for people with neck pain. According to a 2020 study , both latex and memory foam provide support and help reduce neck fatigue.

    Additionally, we looked for ergonomic pillows designed to provide ample cervical support without elevating the head too much. A 2016 study suggested that pillow height significantly impacts the pressure put on the neck and head.

    Finally, we still included several alternative pillow options, like models filled with down and buckwheat, since a foam pillow may not work for everyone.

    Recommended Reading: Nerve Pain Heat Or Ice

    Are You Frequently Experiencing Neck Or Back Pain

    If you answered yes to this question, its possible that you are sleeping each night in an awkward position. It is important to choose a pillow that is at the perfect height for your unique neck and spine. With so many options on the market, this can sometimes be an arduous task.

    For a little help with determining which pillow would be best for help with neck pain, you can consult our recommendations. For those with back pain, its a good idea to take a look at your particular sleeping position. If you are a side sleeper, then you might be an exception to the one pillow rule.

    Choosing The Right One

    If the ultimate goal is to support your neck during sleep and to align the bones of the neck and the spine anatomically, then it makes sense that less is more in terms of elevation. If you are always feeling the need to stick a second cushion under your head, then its entirely possible that the pillow youve chosen isnt ideal for your body type.

    How then, should you go about choosing the right pillow? The first step is to identify your specific needs. Ask yourself what problems you are regularly experiencing that are preventing you from experiencing an ideal evening rest.

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    Potential Benefits Of Sleeping Without A Pillow

    While research is limited, anecdotal reports show that sleeping without a pillow can help reduce neck and back pain for some sleepers. Stomach sleepers are generally best suited for going pillowless, because the lower angle of the neck encourages better spinal alignment in this position.

    Some individuals also assert that sleeping without a pillow can be beneficial for skin and hair, but more clinical studies are needed to evaluate these claims.

    Epabo Memory Foam Pillow

    4 Top Sleeping Positions For Posture & Neck Pain | Pillow Positions , Reduce Snoring , Best Pillow

    Price: $

    Pros: This pillow is a bestseller with many positive reviews giving high marks for its firm support and high density. One reviewer shares that its great for people who move from their back to their side a lot overnight.

    Cons: Another reviewer explains that the pillow sleeps hot and the neck support may be too high to be comfortable.

    The EPABO Memory Foam Pillow is an option for people looking for firm support.

    This pillow is contoured to provide ergonomic support that aligns your head, neck, shoulders, and back. The company explains that, in the first 2 weeks of use, people may experience some discomfort as their body adjusts to using the pillow.

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    Choose A Supportive Mattress

    A supportive mattress can go a long way in keeping you comfortable and in proper alignment while you sleep. The kind of support you need from a mattress has a lot to do with your body type and your sleeping position.

    Body Type
    Stomach or BackFirm

    Lightweight sleepers are typically best supported on softer mattresses, while heavier people need a firmer mattress to offer the best support.

    Side sleepers need softer mattresses that contour to their body to alleviate pressure in the hips and shoulders, while back and stomach sleepers need a more firm mattress to keep their spine aligned.

    RELATED: Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain And Sciatica

    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:

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    Keep Moving And Try Stretching

    You should keep walking and moving to keep the muscles in your neck from becoming stiffer. If you are looking for pain relief from the stiffness in your neck, you might do some light stretching to ease the pain. Poor posture is one of the most common culprits of causing a crick in the neck and stretching helps to combat this. Here are some exercises to try:

    Sleeping On Your Back

    Neck pain after sleeping: causes &  tips

    Sleeping on your back helps maintain your spines natural curves. You can use a thinner pillow in this position than you would when sleeping on your side. Your head position should be only slightly raised so that its at a similar angle as when youre standing.

    Using a cervical pillow or a memory foam pillow can help support your head or neck. If you regularly snore or deal with sleep apnea, you may want to try sleeping on your side instead of your back.

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    Change Your Sleeping Position

    Did you know that there are some sleeping positions that are considered healthier than others? Health experts say back sleeping is the best sleeping position above all others.

    This is because sleeping on your back helps your head, neck, and spine stay in neutral alignment which is absolutely key to reducing your chances of neck pain at night.

    So what does that mean for the other sleeping positions? If youre a side sleeper experiencing shoulder or pain, you may need to train yourself out of that position.

    Side sleepers put a lot of pressure on their shoulders and other pressure points like the hips and knees while they sleep. All hope is not for side sleepers though!

    If you sleep on a contouring and supportive mattress that cradles the shoulders , you may be able to get away with staying in this position pain-free. Check out our list of the best mattresses for side sleepers to make sure you have a mattress that properly supports this position.

    However, if you arent ready to purchase a new mattress or pillow and are experiencing shoulder pain, avoid sleeping on the affected side. If possible, sleep on the opposite side and place a pillow between your knees for added comfort and to help maintain a good sleep posture.

    What about stomach sleepers? Stomach sleepers arent in danger of putting direct pressure on the shoulders however, stomach sleeping can be dangerous and harmful to the neck .

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