Waking up with a sore neck can set the tone for an uncomfortable day ahead, and the painful, stiff feeling isn’t one any person looks forward to. Improper sleeping habits are the most common causes of this annoying problem, so to help you figure it out, Sleepedia has shared with Celebrate:MK 5 sleeping tips to help relieve neck pain…
1. Ensure That You’re Using The Right Pillow
A pillow’s job is to support the curve of your neck. If it fails at doing that due to incorrect height or firmness, you risk straining the muscles in your neck and upper back. That’s why it’s important that you choose a pillow based on your sleeping position.
Back sleepers require a thin pillow generally, but the height depends on you. When lying on your pillow, your neck’s curve should look as it does when you stand up straight. Get a friend to help you test this if you have to.
Side sleepers need thicker pillows to ensure that the head and neck are correctly aligned with the shoulders and spine. The correct height depends on your height and shoulder width.
Stomach sleeping is the worst position for those who get neck pain, but if you must sleep this way, it is best not to use a pillow at all.
The truth is, your pillow, mattress and other bedding will be one of the main causes behind your morning neck pain, so it’s important to always buy bedding that matches up with your sleeping position of choice. For more help choosing the best mattress and bedding, head to Sleepedia.
You’d be surprised how much a rolled towel or blanket can do for your neck pain. Even if you have the perfect pillow for you, try using a rolled-up towel underneath your neck to provide added support for the curve of your neck. This fills the gap there, allowing for better spinal alignment and boosted soft tissue support.
You can also try placing a rolled towel or blanket beneath your knees if you’re a back sleeper. How does this work? It supports and promotes the spine’s natural curves, allowing your body to enjoy a healthier sleeping position that keeps the spine aligned. This elevation will reduce the weight of the heavier parts of your body and reduce strain in the neck and back. You can also, as a back sleeper, place a pillow each underneath either arm to reduce strain on the neck.
If you’re a side sleeper, hug a bolster or pillow between your legs to support spinal alignment and reduce the weight of your legs on the neck and back. This works similarly to the back-sleeping elevation.
3. Try To Sleep On Your Back
Back sleepers have the closest position to the natural spinal position, which allows them to enjoy a neutral sleeping position. With the right pillow, it ensures the best position for the spine and therefore the best position for the neck.
You can opt to sleep on your side as well. This position is good for circulation and can take some strain off the neck when coupled with elevation techniques or the right pillow.
We’ve mentioned that sleeping on your stomach is the worst position of all, but do you know why? In this position, your neck muscles are at their most strained as you will likely be turning your head to one side as you sleep. This worsens if you use a pillow when stomach sleeping as it raises your neck unnaturally.
4. Stretch Before Sleeping
This is especially geared towards those who spend a large majority of the day sitting down in a chair. The poor postures that come with regular sitting can tighten the muscles of the neck, leading you to have a strain that only worsens when it’s slept on.
To avoid this, stretch your neck before hitting the sack to loosen up those sore muscles. There are plenty of unique and useful neck stretching techniques and moves available that you can look up, to see which you’d like to do every night.
If you continue to have neck pain despite these stretches for more than a week, consider visiting a doctor to discuss better treatment options.
5. Put Away Your Phone
Many use their phones in bed before sleeping, and it’s often overlooked as a harmless activity. But looking down at your phone while in bed can cause your head to tilt at a sharp angle that strains the neck muscles and sets a painful precursor for the night. This happens so commonly that it has a name: text neck.
If you plan to use your phone before sleeping, try to hold it up to eye level, and do your best to not use it for longer than a few minutes before turning in for the night. And keep in mind that this translates to the daytime, too – if you’re on your phone with your head tilted down too often, you could be in for a rough night.
While we use phones as an example here, do remember that reading, writing, or filling out a crossword in bed can lead to the same problems.