Do you have trouble sleeping due to neck pain? Or, do you wake up and can’t turn your head? The good news is there are usually only a handful of reasons for the discomfort and stiffness, and they are all manageable or treatable.
Waking up with a stiff neck can ruin your entire day. It may work itself out, but usually not straight away. And it can get worse again overnight when you go to bed. It’s a vicious cycle that can wreak havoc on how you feel.
Stiffness in the neck and shoulder area are common for some people when they’re sleeping. It can make for restless nights and poor sleeping habits. Thankfully, there are things you can do to not only help your neck but prevent the pain from getting so bad in the first place.
First, it’s important to recognize why you might be experiencing a stiff neck and shoulders. This guide will cover the most common causes. Then, we’ll give you some tips that will help to make the situation better. The solutions may be easier than you think!
There are two main causes:
No matter what position you sleep in, there are different things you can do to ease the stress on your neck when you’re sleeping.
If you’re waking up each day with a stiff neck, the first thing you should do is take a look at your pillow. Not all pillows are created equally.
You may have a preference when it comes to the type of pillow you prefer, whether it’s something stiff and heavy or soft and conforming. But, what you think you may like isn’t always the best for the health of your neck and shoulders. The pillow that’s best for your neck greatly depends on the position you sleep in.
You should look for specific pillow characteristics based on how you sleep:
No matter what position you sleep in, one of the best pillows for neck pain is the Shredded Memory Foam Pillow by Coop Home Goods. It gets high marks from almost everyone who uses it, thanks to the support it provides. It won’t flatten if you move throughout the night, and will keep your neck in line with your back. Plus, it’s made from quality materials and allows the pillow to form to your specific needs. Shredded memory foam is better than traditional memory foam because there isn’t just a solid foam pad to deal with. It can conform to your neck to create a better fit.
Nowadays, pillows are made from a variety of different materials. These materials will determine how quickly a pillow becomes deflated. This also applies if it feels too fluffy, too flat, or musty.
Some of the best pillows are made from the following materials:
Again, the best materials for your pillow much depend on the position you sleep in. While they all have their own benefits, you’ll get the most out of specific materials based on how you sleep and what you’re looking for in a good night’s rest.
When you’re shopping for a pillow with different materials, consider the following:
If you’ve been talking to people about your stuff neck from sleeping, you’ve probably heard plenty of advice about getting a different mattress. Most people automatically associate a faulty mattress with neck pain. There is some truth to that, but not as much as many people think. The safety and comfort of your neck, while you sleep, has much more to do with your pillow than your mattress.
But, if you’ve switched out your pillow to fit your needs and sleeping position and you’re still uncomfortable, you can look into changing your mattress. It’s important to make sure you have a mattress that is firm enough.
If your mattress is over ten years old, it’s a good rule of thumb to get a new one. Mattresses can flatten out a bit over time, and become misshapen. If you don’t have the budget for a new mattress, try flipping your current one over, if possible. Some mattresses can’t be flipped. If yours does, you should do it periodically, so it doesn’t lose its shape on one side.
There are a few other factors that can contribute to neck pain at night. One of them that you may not think about often is your phone. Most people check their phone for a few minutes each night before bed. You may even wake up in the middle of the night and start browsing.
It may seem harmless to check your emails or browse through social media as you lay in bed, but it could be doing severe damage to your neck. Looking down at your phone when you’re in a laying position can add up to 60 pounds of force on your neck muscles.
This creates a strain on the tendons and ligaments in the neck and shoulders. Even just a few minutes of looking down at your phone can lead to discomfort. Because this is becoming such a common problem, it even has its name; text neck.
Along with causing neck pain, studies have shown that the blue light from your phone can inhibit sleep, so you’re not getting the rest you need. If you must use or check your phone while you’re in bed, try to hold it at eye level, and limit your usage as much as possible.
This same advice goes for computers during the day. Make sure to check your posture if you’re sitting at a desk all day. If you’re looking downward at your computer, you could be causing the same strain on your neck during the day as your phone causes at night.
To help avoid this, raise the level of your computer to meet directly with your eyes. It’s also important to take frequent breaks and get up to walk around for a few minutes. Stretch your neck whenever you take one of these breaks to keep your muscles from getting weaker throughout the day.
If you regularly experience a sore neck and shoulders when you sleep, the best way to prevent it is to sleep in a different position or find a pillow that works to align your spine. Keep in mind, though, that your habits throughout the day can prime your neck to feel stiff before you even climb into bed.
If you work a job that causes you to sit all day, you could be developing poor posture habits. You probably slouch more than you realize. This can tighten up your neck muscles and contribute to the stiffness that will be amplified by the wrong pillow. It can even make it hard to fall asleep.
One thing you can do before bed to help prevent neck pain right away and get to sleep is to stretch. Stretching your neck helps to loosen the muscle fibers. The right kind of stretching can also help with tension in the muscle that connects your neck and shoulders. Even just tilting your neck slowly from side to side can help, or you can develop a stretching routine.
Try this safe stretching technique before you get into bed each night to help loosen your neck muscles and reduce your risk of experiencing pain:
If you feel extreme pain when stretching, or if your neck pain becomes so severe that you can’t sleep at all, you may need to contact a doctor for a treatment plan.
Using the right pillow, changing your sleep position, and stretching are the best ways to get rid of a stiff neck from sleeping. But, there are simple home remedies you can put into place at any time. These remedies can help to get rid of pain for awhile. Even momentary relief can give you what you need to get some sleep and be more comfortable in bed.
Let’s look at some of these useful tips to help reduce your neck and shoulder stiffness:
The reason your neck pain might feel worse when you’re sleeping is probably due to many factors. It starts with your habits during the day. If you’re not moving around enough and you’re staring at a computer all day, you’re already going to bed after putting a strain on your muscles all day. When you get into bed and have the wrong pillow or sleeping position, that strain becomes even worse.
Getting rid of your neck pain when you’re sleeping may take a few lifestyle changes, as well as a change in your pillow. Between technology and different varieties of pillows, it’s no wonder more people are experiencing neck pain nowadays.
We hope this guide has given you a bit more insight into why your neck and shoulders feel so stiff when you wake up in the morning. Or, why you can’t get a good night’s sleep because of the pain. By using the right pillow and sleeping in the right position, you can help to get rid of neck stiffness quickly and start sleeping better right away.
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