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Sleeping with Neck Pain: Best & Worst Positions, Relief Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping with Neck Pain

Neck pain can make it challenging to get a good night's rest. Luckily, there are several things you can take to alleviate discomfort and increase the likelihood of having a restful night's sleep. We'll be looking at the best positions for sleeping and a few tips that can help alleviate the pain. 

To start, it is essential to comprehend the underlying causes of the pain. The alignment of your neck with the rest of your body is often overlooked, despite the potential stress it can place on your neck. To address neck pain and reduce stress, let's explore practical methods for managing and alleviating neck discomfort.

Best Positions for Sleeping with Neck Pain

According to our experts, the two best sleeping positions for neck pain, in general, are either on your back or on your side. Although there are only two, there are variations for both. Let's go through them in detail.

Sleeping on your back

This position can provide several benefits to alleviate discomfort in the neck. It helps distribute your weight evenly and reduces your neck and shoulder stress. Sleeping on your back can also help prevent the neck from twisting or bending unnaturally at night, which usually causes pain. 

Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side is another position that can help alleviate neck pain. It can promote healthy blood flow and reduce the risk of sleep apnea. 

Additionally, it helps align the neck and abdominal regions of the spine, reducing pressure on the cervical facet joint. This helps stabilize the neck, allowing it to move freely and reducing the risk of neck pain.

Sleeping on your back with a small rolled-up towel or pillow under your neck

A variation that you could do along with sleeping on your back is to find a pillow that isn't too fluffy or flat and can support your neck. The primary goal is to maintain a straight and aligned position of the neck in relation to the rest of the body. If you can't find a pillow to help you achieve that, try using rolled-up towels under the pillow cover.

Side sleeping with a leg pillow.

Maintaining the side sleeping position at night might be difficult if you toss and turn a lot. What helps here is sleeping with a pillow between your legs, as it is known to help maintain the position. 

Sleeping on your back with a rolled-up towel or pillow under your knees

If you enjoy sleeping on your back but suffer from lower back pain, you can find relief by placing a small pillow or rolled-up towel beneath your knees. This position can promote healthy spinal alignment by reducing pressure on your lower back muscles and decreasing the curve in your lumbar spine.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid for Neck Pain

Now that we know the best positions to sleep in to alleviate neck pain, let's also look at the positions we need to avoid. 

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can have negative effects on your spine and overall health. This position forces your neck into an unnatural angle, which can strain your cervical spine and contribute to neck pain. Additionally, sleeping on your stomach can cause your lower back to arch excessively, leading to lower back pain and discomfort. 

Sleeping on your back with a high pillow

Although sleeping on your back is a good position that alleviates neck pain, using the wrong pillow or having your neck at a high level compared to your body is detrimental. Using a high pillow causes the neck to be bent at a weird angle for a prolonged period, which strains the neck.

Sleeping on your side with a tall or elevated pillow

Like sleeping on your back, having a high pillow that pushes the neck into an awkward position will cause prolonged stress. This will lead you to wake up with neck pain. Using a pillow to align your neck with your body is best. Remember, not too high, not too low.

Sleeping in a fetal position

When you sleep in the fetal position, which is when you curl up on the side with your knees tucked towards your chest, although it is comfortable, it can also harm your body. This position can cause your spine to curve more than it should, leading to lower back pain and discomfort. Additionally, sleeping in the fetal position can make breathing harder and disturb your sleep quality. 

Sleeping with your arm under your head

Sleeping with your arm under your head may seem like a cozy way to catch some sleep, but it can strain your neck muscles unnecessarily and cause discomfort over time. This position can cause your neck to bend unnaturally, leading to stiffness and soreness in your neck and shoulders. 

Neck Pain Relief Tips

Along with the right sleeping positions, we also suggest these tips that can further alleviate any residual pain in the neck.

Apply heat or ice

To alleviate pain in the neck, applying either ice or heat can be beneficial as it reduces inflammation, relaxes muscles, and improves blood flow to the affected area.

Consider pain relievers

Neck pain can be relieved with the help of pain relievers, which work by reducing inflammation and blocking pain signals in the brain. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of any medication, it is vital to adhere to the prescribed dosage and consult a healthcare professional.

Practice good posture

Practicing good posture can help alleviate neck pain by reducing strain on the neck muscles and promoting healthy spinal alignment. Good posture involves keeping the shoulders relaxed, the chin leveled, and the ears aligned with the shoulders. 

Stretch regularly

Stretching regularly can help reduce the risk of neck pain by improving flexibility, reducing muscle tension, and promoting healthy blood flow to the neck muscles. This can help prevent muscle strains and sprains, common causes of neck pain.

Use a supportive pillow

Using a supportive pillow promotes proper neck alignment with the rest of the body, reducing neck pain and enhancing sleep hygiene.

Consider alternate therapies

Several alternative therapies can help alleviate neck pain, including physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. These therapies can help reduce tension in the neck muscles, promote healthy spinal alignment, and improve flexibility and circulation.  

When to See a Doctor

It is recommended to take medical attention if you have severe or persistent neck pain that does not improve with self-care measures like rest, ice or heat therapy, and pain medication. Additionally, suppose you experience symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, shooting pain in your arms or legs, or a history of underlying conditions. In such instances, it is crucial to seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

Get Your Good Night's Sleep, Ease Neck Pain With Physiotattva

Neck pain can make getting a good night's rest challenging, but the correct sleeping positions and supportive pillows can contribute a lot to your sleep hygiene. In addition to the abovementioned approaches, you should include stretching exercises and pain relief techniques in your routine. If you still struggle to sleep despite making these changes, contact one of our experts! At Physiotattva, we understand the importance of a good night's rest and will help you achieve the same. Our team of highly skilled professionals is dedicated to offering personalized care and effective solutions tailored to your needs, ensuring you regain the ability to sleep peacefully. Book now and wake up refreshed!

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes neck pain while sleeping?

Neck pain while sleeping can be caused by poor sleeping positions, incorrect pillow height, muscle tension, poor posture during the day, or an underlying medical condition.

Can sleeping in a certain position make my neck pain worse?

Yes, sleeping in a particular position, such as on your stomach or with your arm under your head, can exacerbate neck pain by causing strain on the neck muscles and misaligning the spine.

How can neck pain be quickly relieved at home?

Applying ice or heat, taking over-the-counter pain medication, gentle neck stretches, and maintaining good posture can all help relieve neck pain quickly at home.

What lifestyle adjustments can be made to minimize neck pain during sleep?

Some lifestyle changes that can help reduce neck pain while sleeping include using a supportive pillow, sleeping on your back or side, maintaining good posture, and avoiding sleeping on your stomach.

How do I adjust to a new sleeping position to relieve neck pain?

Gradually transition to the new sleeping position, using a supportive pillow that keeps the neck in a neutral place. Allow a few weeks for adjustment.

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