how to sleep to relieve neck pain

How to Sleep to Relieve Neck Pain: Positions and Preventions

Although it’s usually nothing serious, neck pain can be a major nuisance that affects our mood and daily life. When you struggle with neck pain, falling asleep can often be difficult.

Fortunately, you can try different tactics to relieve neck pain during sleep, like changing your bedding or sleeping position. This article shares everything you need to know to better support your aching neck and increase your sleep quality.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck pain or cervical pain is a common complaint for sleepers around the globe. Neck pain affects about 10% of the population.

The neck consists of seven cervical vertebrae and one cervical lordosis. The muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments surround the vertebrae and are integrated with them. Only a suitable balance between all these elements can allow for pain-free and full neck movement.

Neck muscles can become tight and start putting pressure on a particular nerve. These nerves then send signals to the brain. In turn, the brain interprets them in the form of pain. As the pain increases, the muscles get tighter.

Many people often have a forward head posture known as “text neck.” Typically, this position is adopted when checking a phone while standing up or sitting down. It can cause various problems, from neck pain, headaches, fatigue, or even psychological conditions.

However, text neck isn’t the only reason for neck pain. Other common reasons include:

  • Awkward sleeping position
  • Sitting at a desk all-day
  • Using an inappropriate pillow

How to Sleep When You Suffer From Neck Pain?

Pain can make sleep difficult. Your sleeping position can make all the difference between a comfortable and sleepless night for neck pain sufferers. Finding a proper sleeping position is important because it helps maintain and support the natural curve of your neck and back.

If you have chronic neck pain, you should consider some physical activity or therapy to help the situation. You should also adapt your sleeping habits to support your neck.

Below is an overview of the best sleeping positions for neck pain.

For Back Sleepers

Back sleeping is the second most popular sleeping position for adults. It has numerous benefits for sleepers with back pain. When you have your head and neck aligned correctly, you can also lower the neck pain.
For starters, it’s possible to relieve the pain by adjusting your sleeping position as a back sleeper. The adjustment includes using multiple pillows.
Have one small pillow at the base of the neck to keep your head in a neutral position. Then, place the second pillow between your knees so the muscles around the spine can flatten and those in the neck relax.
As a back sleeper, you may also be concerned about where to place your hands during sleep. Keeping your hands on the side or chest can lower the back and neck pain risk. As far as the pillow type is concerned for people who sleep on their back, neck roll pillows are the best choice.

For Side Sleepers

Studies show that most adults sleep on their side. Doing so lowers the risk of neck and spine pain and reduces snoring and other symptoms. Side sleepers should align their head and neck with the rest of the body. This way, they prevent placing excess weight on the painful area of the body.

You can go for pillows that keep your head in a neutral position. A larger pillow or a pillow stack can help. These solutions also prevent your head from sinking toward the mattress and triggering neck pain. Avoiding pillow stacks and large pillows is a good idea if the pillow you have is too thick.

As a slide sleeper, you can modify your pillows for support. The technique includes rolling up a hand towel and inserting it along the edge of the pillowcase. It’s easy to adjust the towel shape to fit your neck’s natural curve and fill the area between your shoulder and the side of the face.

The best pillows for neck pain if you sleep on your side include:

  • Thin pillows
  • Cervical pillows
  • Supportive mattresses

Worst Sleeping Position

The worst sleeping position for neck pain or stiff neck is sleeping on your stomach with the head turned to the side. This position increases the weight you put on the neck and slows down pain recovery. Numerous studies show that stomach sleepers most often report neck pain during the day.
Stomach sleepers can train themselves to sleep on the side or the back to alleviate neck pain. They should surround their body with pillows to keep them from turning around during the night.

Sleeping Without a Pillow

Some people wonder whether they may be better off sleeping without a pillow. This can be a good option for stomach sleepers. But if you have neck pain and sleep on your back or side, you should consider a supportive pillow.

Best Pillow Material for Neck Pain

Finding the right pillow to support your neck is crucial for improving sleep quality. In terms of material, go for down and feather or memory foam pillows for neck pain.
A feather pillow easily conforms to the shape of the neck and head. Alternatively, memory foam pillows can provide excellent support. 

pillows on bed

Tips for Sleeping With Neck Pain

Other than adjusting your sleeping position, you can introduce small changes to your daily routine to help control or alleviate the pain.

Put Your Pillows in the Right Places

If you’re a back sleeper, use a pillow to keep your neck and head in line with the spine. Also, don’t forget about pillows for under the thighs. For back sleepers, cervical pillows can support your neck in combination with a firm mattress.
For side sleepers, don’t over-elevate your pillow and use it to align your head with the spine.

Get a Better Mattress

A new mattress may seem expensive, but it’s worth considering if you suffer from chronic neck pain. A good mattress will ensure your neck, spine, and the rest of the body get proper support during all stages of sleep.

Ditch the Phone Before Bedtime

Not only does your phone cause neck pain and stiffness, but it also disrupts your sleep cycle. Limiting phone usage during the day will also lessen the strain on the neck.

Stretch Your Neck

People with neck pain should do neck stretches daily, preferably before going to bed.

Exercise Tips

You can stretch and rotate your neck to help ease the pain. Shoulder rolls and gentle massages can also help reduce the symptoms and keep the pain from returning.
It’s also recommended to consult a physical therapist or your health care provider if you want a plan with targeted exercises to meet your needs. In addition, people with chronic neck pain should consider seeing a professional.

How to Prevent Neck Pain From Sleeping

You can prevent and reduce neck pain from sleeping wrong by considering any of the following:

  • Limit screen time to prevent “tech neck”
  • Have an ergonomic workstation with a screen at eye level
  • Try relaxation techniques like self-massage or yoga
  • Try hot and cold techniques for neck pain relief
  • Strengthen your neck muscles
  • Adopt the right sleeping position for neck pain
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Invest in good bedding (mattress, pillows)

Assisting Sleep With Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common yet often avoidable nuisance. With little changes to your daily life habits and proper bedding, you can minimize the risk of neck pain. Adjusting the pillows and sleeping position, limiting screen use, and practicing relaxation can make significant progress in a matter of days.

If you’re looking for quality pillows to support your sleeping position and relieve neck and shoulder pain, Hamvay-Láng has got you covered. Visit our website for more details.


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