Everyone wants a good night’s sleep. But, it’s not always easy. Some people wake up with occasional stiffness in their neck and shoulders, while others may experience chronic neck pain. If you are one of these people, here are some tips that can help ease your neck pain.
Why not try a new pillow? Neck pain is often caused when the neck muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments that surround the cervical spine become strained. Because of this, it is best to have a pillow that provides cervical support which follows the natural curve of your neck.
Many cervical pillows can provide you neck support and comfort. A feather pillow follows the shape of the neck which makes it advantageous for sleeping. A memory foam pillow also conforms to one’s head and neck. Other people prefer an orthopedic pillow as these have a deeper dip for your head while giving support to your neck.
Avoid a pillow that is high, stiff, or firm. This type of pillow keeps your neck flexed throughout the night which can result in neck pain and headaches when you wake up.
Also if you are planning a long ride, bringing a neck pillow (U-shaped pillow) can also be of value. These pillows support your neck and stop it from falling from side-to-side while sleeping.
But getting the right pillow is only part of the answer as to how to sleep with neck pain. You also must consider your sleeping position. Moreover, the kind of pillow that you use also depends on on your sleeping position.
What is the worst position for sleeping? The worst position is resting on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach causes your back to arch and forces your neck to turn to the side. This creates a lot of stress on your muscles and your spine. If you are a stomach sleeper, try changing to a better sleeping position. Until then, use a thin (or if possible, no) pillow.
Sleeping on your side is another favorite position. If you rest on your side, try maintaining good posture by keeping your body straight. Pay attention to proper pillow height. Your pillow should ensure that your head and neck are in the middle of your shoulders. You want to avoid flexing your neck too much. It’s also good to have a thinner pillow positioned between your knees.
Your neck pain may decrease if you try to lie on your back. In these case, your head should be supported by a relatively flat pillow or by an orthopedic pillow that includes a deeper depression where the head lies and extra support under the neck. This position is not surprising as many believe the best position to relieve neck pain is by sleeping on your back. This position lets your spine and vertebrae maintain their natural curve. It also promotes proper posture. If you are a back sleeper and a want a more restful sleep, then having a thinner pillow is best.
Remember, everyone has a different proper pillow height. You may test if the pillow is right for you by lying on a mattress with the pillow and checking on the curve of your neck.
There are some with spinal arthritis who find it easier sleeping on a recliner. Because of this, they may prefer an adjustable bed or sit in a recliner rather than lying flat on a mattress. This group of people may have health conditions that require an elevated head or feet of the bed. Some add a foam wedge pillow behind their head and upper back or under the knees, but this method runs the risk of the pillows constantly being mispositioned during sleep.
Some people continue to experience muscle soreness despite changing their pillow and sleeping position. The cause of this discomfort might be weak muscles. You might want to try a few exercises that will not stress but strengthen your neck muscles. You can do this by doing sets of stretching and strengthening exercises when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.
Also, make sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. This is important as water nurtures our body. Specifically, it nurtures the spinal discs. Apart from that, make sure avoid any day activities that may strain your neck.
If you spend a lot of time in the office, it’s important to keep your computer monitor at eye level. If you use a laptop, connect it to a larger monitor. How do you determine if your computer monitor is at the optimal eye level? Simply close your eyes, then open them. Your gaze should be on the way of the screen or at least the top one third off the monitor. If not, adjust the monitor because this may be the cause of your neck pain.
Apart from your computer screen, your phone might also be putting a strain on your neck. Chances are your head is tilting down when you use your mobile. Tilting one’s head down for a long time might put undue pressure on your neck. Over time, this stresses the cervical discs, joints, and ligaments. It can even contribute to degenerative disc disease. It’s best to raise your phone or any other device at eye level.
It’s not just texting that stresses the neck. Talking on your mobile can strain the vertebrae and muscles as well. When talking on the mobile, the neck tilts sideways. If you spend a lot of time on your mobile, consider using a headset or a Bluetooth earpiece.
What’s another cause of neck pain? People who carry a heavy bag or backpack can irritate their neck and shoulder muscles. The imbalanced load causes your shoulders to be uneven and sometimes strain your neck muscles in the process. The best way is to make sure that you carry only the essentials in your bag, thus lightening your load. Also, whenever you are carrying your bag, make sure that your shoulders are even. More importantly, try using a backpack that spreads the weight on both of your shoulders.
Furthermore, having a good posture is an excellent way to relieve neck pain. Poor posture is often the reason for neck pain as it strains the ligaments and muscles. One of the most common instances of poor posture is when the neck is angled forward, placing the head ahead of the shoulders. This can cause the muscles located in the neck and back to strain.
Hopefully, the tips given above will even relieve you of your chronic neck pain (or just reduce neck pain) so that you would no longer need physical therapy. But most of all, we hope it will help you in sleeping peacefully at night.