Almost everyone has had a sore or stiff neck at some point in their lives. According to the World Health Organization, back and neck pain and arthritis, and bone fractures are among the most common disabling muscle or bone injuries.
Approximately 10% to 20% of adults experience neck pain at any given time. Neck pain usually resolves on its own, but it can develop into a persistent issue in around half of the cases.
Getting a good night's sleep might be difficult with a tight neck. Making a few adjustments to your sleeping patterns, on the other hand, can help you manage your neck pain and avoid sleeping in unpleasant positions for long periods.
Let's take a look at which sleeping positions are most likely to relieve neck pain. We'll also look at other things you can do before bed to help alleviate pain.
Best sleeping position for neck pain
Your sleeping position has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. If you have neck pain, sleeping on your back or side is the most comfortable position. Sleeping in either of these postures is less stressful on your spine than sleeping on your stomach.
Because your preferred sleeping position is often determined early in life, changing it may be difficult. However, as the new position becomes more familiar, you will become more at ease.
Because most people shift in the middle of the night, having extra pillows on hand can help you stay comfortable.
Sleeping on your back
The natural curves of your spine are preserved while you sleep on your back. You can use a thinner pillow in this posture than you would if you were sleeping on your side. Raise your head only slightly, at the same angle as when you're standing.
Head and neck support can be provided by a cervical pillow or a memory foam pillow. Try sleeping on your side rather than your back if you snore a lot or have sleep apnea.
Sleeping on your side
One of the most effective ways to keep your head neutral and chin straight ahead is to sleep on your side. Use a high enough pillow to keep your neck neutral but not so high that your upper ear is pressed against your shoulder when sleeping in this position.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach
If you have neck pain, it is advised to avoid sleeping on your stomach. In this position, your head is pressed to one side for hours at a time. As a result of this wrong position, your neck may be overworked.
Best way to sleep with neck pain
In your spine, there are three natural arches. It curves forward at the neck and lower back. It bends in the opposite direction in your upper back. Avoiding neck and back pain can be as simple as arranging your bed such that these natural curves are kept.
Many people find that using memory foam to relieve neck pain is beneficial. In a 2019 study, using a viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam pillow combined with chiropractic treatment was more effective than using only chiropractic treatment.
You could also use a soft feather pillow that molds to your head or a cervical support pillow.
If you sleep on your back, you should:
- Use a thin pillow. You can keep your upper spine in its natural position with a slight forward curve by using a thin pillow.
- Try a cervical pillow. By supporting your neck and head, a cervical pillow keeps them in a neutral position.
- Use a supportive mattress. You may find that you sink into your bed and your back rounds if it is too soft.
When sleeping on your side, keep the following in mind:
- Pillows that are too high should be avoided. Your pillow should ideally be at a height that keeps your ears vertically stacked over each other. Your neck will bend if your pillow is too high or low, and you may develop pain over time.
- Maintain a neutral chin. If you're sleeping in the fetal position, try not to tuck your chin in. Your head is positioned forward by tucking your chin.
- Put a pillow between your knees if you're having trouble sleeping. Placing a pillow between your knees can help to align your lower spine.
How to get a good night's sleep if you have a stiff neck, shoulder, or back?
It's best to sleep on your opposite side or on your back to avoid aggravating a sore shoulder. If you're lying on your back, a pillow next to your painful shoulder can help you avoid rolling in that direction in the middle of the night.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have back pain. Your vertebrae are overworked when you sleep on your stomach. The following are some positions that may help relieve your pain:
- sleeping on your back with your head slightly reclined
- lie down on your back with a pillow between your knees.
- sleeping in the position of a fetal
- putting a pillow between your knees while sleeping
Other factors to consider when sleeping with neck pain
According to a 2015 study, people with chronic neck pain who have poor sleep quality are less likely to improve. Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most effective ways to heal from neck pain.
If you're dealing with an acute problem, ibuprofen might be able to help. Make sure you're not taking it on an empty stomach, that you're not taking more than 1,200 milligrams in a single day, and that you're not taking it for longer than ten days unless your doctor says so.
Some people find that applying heat and ice to their pain relieves it. You can alternate between the two based on which one provides the most relief.
Stretching your neck gently before bed and when you first wake up may also aid in pain management.
The following stretches may help:
- Roll your shoulder back and down ten times.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together ten times.
- For 30 seconds, press the back of your head into your hands.
- Bring each ear to your shoulder ten times.
As you get older and your neck muscles weaken, neck pain becomes more common. Spending too much time in poor postures, regardless of age, can cause pain. There are a few things you can do to avoid getting neck pain in the first place:
- As much as possible, sit and stand with good posture.
- On planes and other modes of transportation, try using a horseshoe-shaped pillow.
- Long periods of sitting should be broken up with frequent breaks.
- Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level.
- Stretch regularly.
- Instead of looking down, hold your phone in front of your face.
- Carry heavy bags with a strap as little as possible.
- It's not recommended to sleep on your stomach.
Almost everyone will develop a sore neck at some point in their life. Sleeping on your side or back relieves stress on your neck and helps you manage pain. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if at all possible. Your neck is in an unnatural position while you sleep on your stomach, which may increase your pain.