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How Can I Avoid Neck Pain after Sleeping?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 17, 2024
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Neck pain is a common problem that many people experience on a daily basis. This kind of pain typically occurs after the neck, or cervical spine, is bent or twisted for too long. Neck pain after sleeping often occurs when a person sleeps with his neck bent at an odd angle. An individual can usually avoid this pain by doing something as simple as changing his mattress, pillow, or sleeping position.

The right mattress is an important first step toward preventing neck pain. Most experts recommend that a mattress be firm to support the body and prevent the spine from bending out of shape. Mattresses that are too soft or sagging can allow the spine to bend as a person is sleeping. A firm pillow-top mattress will provide the support that the spine needs, and it will cushion the body and provide added comfort.

Probably one of the simplest things a person can do to help avoid neck pain after sleeping is to change his pillow. A pillow that is too low can cause the head to tilt down, stretching the neck, while a pillow that is too high can cause the head to tilt up. Either of these sleeping positions can lead to pain in the morning. An ergonomic or neck pillow, which can provide the proper support to the head and prevent neck strain, is often recommended. Choosing the right pillow, however, often depends on which position a person sleeps in.

One of the most common sleeping positions is side sleeping. Although sleeping on your side is quite comforting and cozy, you need proper support to prevent strain on your neck, spine, and hips. You can get wedge pillows for side sleepers to address this issue. A wedge pillow will help keep your neck and shoulders aligned with your hips, which will, in turn, prevent your spine from contorting and putting excess pressure on your neck or hips.

Sleeping on your back is generally considered to be one of the best sleeping positions if neck pain is a chronic problem. Most people who go to sleep on their backs, however, toss and turn during the night, ending up either on their sides or stomachs. When sleeping on your side, a pillow that properly aligns the spine, keeping it straight, is considered to be essential.

Stomach sleepers often suffer neck pain after sleeping because the head is usually turned the side to avoid the face being shoved into the pillow. This position twists the cervical spine, and if a person's neck is in this position for too long, it can lead to pain and stiffness in the morning.

Most people can't really help which position they end up in while sleeping, but there are a few things that can be done to avoid the positions that lead to neck pain. For example, some people find it helpful to place a pillow right next to them when they go to bed, which can sometimes keep them from rolling onto their stomachs. You can also sew a tennis ball onto the front or side of your pajama top, which can be extremely uncomfortable if you happen to roll over onto it when you are sleeping. This will usually cause you to roll onto your back again, preventing a stiff neck in the morning.

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Discussion Comments
By anon180953 — On May 27, 2011

I am 36, sleep on the floor, and make an effort to sleep on my back. i keep another pillow just under my upper thighs which seems to stop the back from being at a bit of a tough position, and subconsciously reminds me not to turn on my side. If i do turn to the side, it's usually consciously now (and in the morning when i know I'll be getting up soon).

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