How To Sleep With Neck Pain

Are you experiencing neck pain lately and wondering how to sleep with it? We have everything you need. We’ll explore these topics in this guide:

  • What to do if you have neck pain when you sleep? 
  • Why does sleeping make your neck hurt?
  • Getting a good night’s sleep with stiff shoulders and neck.

How to sleep if you have neck pain 

When you have a sore neck or neck strain it is best to keep your head aligned with your spine. To ensure that your neck is aligned with your spine, it is essential to invest in pillows that provide enough support. 

This can be achieved by using a low and firm pillow for back sleepers. 

If you have the extra money, you are also recommended to get yourself an orthopaedic pillow, which are pillows that are ergonomically shaped to provide the right amount of support and elevation to your head and neck.

How to sleep with a stiff neck 

You want to provide adequate support to your stiff neck while sleeping. This is why it’s important to avoid sleeping in positions that put your neck at an unnatural angle, forcing it to support itself and the head. Here’s how to sleep with neck pain from sleeping wrong. 

  1. Ensure that your mattress is quite firm, as soft mattresses can often lead to a neck that is bent in unnatural positions. 
  2. Avoid sleeping with too many pillows that aren’t necessary for your sleeping habits as this will just force your neck to bend, putting strain on it. 
  3. Some people have also found relief in placing a towel that has been rolled lengthwise inside their pillows. 
  4. You are advised to stay away from too firm or too high pillows as they place your neck at an unnatural angle.
  5. Try looking into buying yourself a feather pillow as it will conform and mould to the shape of your head and neck well, providing a substantial amount of support so that your neck isn’t strained from propping up your head. 

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Why does my neck hurt when I sleep

You’ll be surprised to know that more than half of neck problems are caused or worsened by awkward sleeping positions. This happens when the neck is improperly aligned to the rest of the body, putting strain on your neck as it struggles to support your neck. 

It is also very likely that you develop a sore neck from repeated daily activities such as using a computer for an extended time or improper posture, which has caused a strained muscle. And these activities are then combined with improper neck support during sleep, worsening the problem.

How to sleep to relieve neck pain 

Most neck problems are caused or aggravated by sleeping in the wrong position. To relieve a sore neck during sleep, the best way is to find out the recommended pillow height for your sleeping position. Here are medically verified ways on how you should sleep to prevent causing or aggravating neck pain. 

  1. If you are a stomach sleeper, know that this sleeping position is the worst for maintaining a good neck posture during sleep. This is why Whittington NHS recommends never sleeping on your front as much as possible, as this will only cause strain to your already sore neck. The best way you can support your neck is to ditch any pillows, thus, aligning the neck to the spine. 
  1. For side sleepers, you want to fill in that gap between the bed and your head, such that your head is rested in a natural position. This is achieved by using one or two full-size pillows. Additionally, it is better to keep your arm in front of you rather than under you to provide enough balance and support to your body. 
  1. For back sleepers, promoting a neutral position is similarly essential. The goal is to keep the head aligned with the spine such that your chin is not tucked in or poking out. A single thin pillow is usually enough to accomplish this. 

How to sleep with a stiff neck and shoulder

To avoid sleeping with your neck in an awkward position, it’s essential to provide enough support. Pain from the neck can also travel to the shoulders, causing soreness there as well. It’s recommended you don’t sleep on the affected shoulder, but instead, sleep on your back. 

  1. Sleep on your back or the opposite shoulder from the affected one while placing pillows underneath your forearm to keep in a natural position that puts no strain on it. 
  2. Try to use a slightly folded pillow to sleep under your neck, which some people have found to relieve. 
  3. Additionally, try to use all feather or down feathers to conform to the body easily compared to foam ones. 
  4. You can also place a pillow folded in half underneath your forearm to provide it with enough amount of support. 

How to sleep when you have back and neck pain

A common cause of neck and back pain is sleeping in a position that causes your neck and spine not to align correctly. Choosing the correct type of mattress for your sleeping position can prevent or alleviate back and neck pain. There are a few things to keep in mind when sleeping with back and neck pain.

  1. You should choose a mattress that distributes your weight evenly and provides proper neck-to-spine alignment. 
  2. Sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for you. Distributing your weight to minimise tension on your pressure points. 
  3. For those who have difficulty sleeping on their back, try sleeping in the fetal position, as this opens up the space between the vertebrae of your spine, allowing for some pressure relief. 

If you want to know more about how you can sleep on your back with neck pain, this video provides suggested sleeping positions by medical providers.