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Best Sleep Position for Neck Pain

The ‘pain in the neck’ adage didn’t originate without reason. Of all the pains that humans suffer from on a pretty regular basis, neck pain is the most annoying. It hurts to look up, look down, and turn our heads for anything. Whether you are working, going for a jog, or simply trying to eat, your neck pain can make every activity difficult.

Although not a cause for concern, neck pains are relentless and don’t go away on their own. In fact, neck pains affect close to 60 percent of the population, second only to back pain. Neck pain can range in severity; it can be mild discomfort for some, soreness and stiffness for some, and severe pain affecting the neck, spine, and shoulders in others. In some cases, it can even make daily activities impossible. If the pain is severe, prompt medical attention must be sought.

What causes neck pain?

There can be several causes for the neck, but the most common is bad posture. Almost everyone suffers from poor posture. Keeping the head bent for too long, slouching, staying in one position for a long time, all put abnormal stress on the neck and shoulders. Even when you are watching TV on the couch, reading in bed, spending long hours in front of the computer, and driving can cause a misalignment of the cervical spine and muscle spasms in the neck, leading to pain.

Whenever the neck and the spine are not aligned normally, it can give rise to pain because of stress on the muscles. Neck pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, the inflammation of joints that happens because of wear and tear. In addition, when you adopt poor posture, the condition only worsens.

Whatever the cause of the pain, if you suffer from chronic neck pain, you must have noticed that it is worse in the morning, right after you get out of bed. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because of your sleeping position.

Most of us tend to sleep in the wrong position. A lot of sleepers sprawl throughout the bed, some sleep on the wrong pillows, and it only grows worse with activities like reading or using the phone in bed. Every time your neck is in a wrong position, you put undue stress on your spine, leading to pain. To start getting rid of your neck pain, change your sleeping position first.

Yes, this is bad news for most people, because we feel comfortable sleeping the way we do. When switching to a new position, it can be difficult to fall asleep and may go back to our normal position, just to be comfortable. However, if you stick to the right sleeping positions, it can be the end of your misery.

Best sleeping positions for neck pain

It has been agreed by experts all over the world that sleeping on your back is the best way to ease neck pain, because, in this position, your spine remains neutral. Harvard Health advises that the pillow you sleep on should be rounded to provide the required support to the curvature of your neck. Depending upon preference, you can either choose a feather pillow, since it is soft and curves according to the shape of your neck, or a memory foam pillow. Hard pillows are usually bad for the spine, and should be avoided.

 

That being said, there is good news for side sleepers. As long as you have the right pillow to support your neck, you can easily sleep on your side without any problem. Positioning your pillow higher under your neck to form a little bridge will keep your neck and spine supported while you sleep on your side.

Those who sleep on their stomach are the highest risk of neck pain because it is the worst position to sleep in. If it’s impossible to adopt a more suitable position for nighttime sleeping, try using a thin pillow under your neck to keep your spine from straining.

The types of pillows you use also have a significant impact on your neck and spine. Ideally, you should be using a pillow that isn’t too high or too stiff, since it will only contribute to neck pain and stiffness.

Although neck pain can be annoying and hard to get rid of, proper sleeping positions and the right exercises can provide gentle relief over time.

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Written by Sleep Sherpa

My name is Ben Trapskin. I created Sleep Sherpa to educate myself and others about the importance of sleep and how to get a better night’s rest. In my mid 30’s I went through a period where I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night. This took a major toll on my physical and psychological health. After getting the proper help from medical professionals, I was able to get adequate sleep and life changed for the better.

Since then I have been fascinated with the world of sleep and the difference quality sleep can make in your daily performance. Aside from writing about sleep, I had been a librarian for 13 years. In that capacity I worked to connect people with new ideas and information to better their own lives.
In addition, I have had more than my share of frustrating mattress shopping excursions. Over the course of 2 years we purchased 3 different mattresses and I knew of many others with the same story. My quest to find quality mattresses and reputable companies began and I would like to lead others to the best sleep products in order to save time and money.
While many other mattress review sites keep popping up across the Internet—many out to make a quick profit by exploiting the online mattress boom—I aim to stand out as a resource that offers true value to consumers in the market for a mattress. I do my best to give you a sense of how a mattress will feel but at the end of the day, these are my personal opinions and shouldn’t be taken as facts.
The majority of mattresses I am sent for review are queen size. According to a 2016 report by the Better Sleep Council, 47% of Americans sleep on a queen size mattress followed by king at 25%.

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  1. Thanks for helping me understand why neck pain feels immensely worse after waking up in the morning. For the past few days, I have been having the worst neck pain of my life whenever I wake up in the morning and this has gotten in the way of my daily activities. I was initially thinking it was some of my posture habits causing it, but I never considered it being the result of my sleeping position at all. This has gotten me to consider different ways of sleeping, so I’ll find a chiropractor in my area that can advise me on this so the neck pain can finally stop.

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