How to Sleep With Neck Pain

How to Sleep With Neck Pain

It is hard to fall asleep with any kind of pain, especially neck pain. When it comes to body problems, it is always important to evaluate your sleeping habits and qualities to see if it is having any negative effect on your wellbeing, because preventing and understanding a problem is much more valuable than curing a problem. 

We will discuss these two topics of what type of sleeping position will cause neck pain and how do you sleep with neck pain?

What type of sleeping position will cause neck pain

Sleeping wrong could definitely cause neck pain. Sometimes you wake up with neck pain because you might have had sudden neck movements or neck strain from injuries, nightmares etc, which all lead to neck pain. 

If you encounter these, use special treatments to relieve the pain, and make sure to use pillow support for the following nights. 

Also avoid using too high or stiff a pillow, which keeps the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness.

Sleeping upright

If you are thinking of sleeping upright to relieve back and neck pain, it is similar to sleeping  on airplanes, the best accompaniment is a horseshoe shaped pillow to support the neck, such as the kind often used on airplane flights. Lower back pillows are also a good idea. Avoid using too large pillows behind the neck, because it will force your head forward.

How do you sleep with neck pain?

The best sleeping positions for the neck are on your back or on your side, the back in particular is recommended. Just make sure to use a pillow that supports the curvature of your neck and a flatter pillow to cushion your head.

Choose a pillow to give support to the natural curve of your neck, tuck a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter softer pillow, or by using a pillow which has a built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest in. 

If you prefer to sleep on the side, use a taller pillow under your neck so it aligns with your head. In this way, the pillow helps relieve any strain on the neck and keep your spine straight. 

Why we are strongly against sleeping on your stomach is because you have to twist the neck to keep the head on the side, which puts pressure on the nerves. If you can not live without sleeping on the stomach, we recommend using a thin pillow or no pillow at all, try to keep awkward angles at a minimum. 

Another option is a traditionally shaped pillow with "memory foam" that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. Some cervical pillows are also made with memory foam. Manufacturers of memory-foam pillows claim they help foster proper spinal alignment.

These pillows are usually called ergonomic pillows, but conforming and contouring to the body do not necessarily mean the pillow has to have a shaped look. That's why we designed Morpheus Pillow, with double-sided firmness and comfort level, one with memory foam side, which is soft and comfortable, perfectly designed for back sleepers or ones who like softness, and the high elastic foam side, which is firm and stable, designed for side sleepers or those who prefer a firm pillow. 

Beyond sleep positions

Sleep position and sleep quality have a significant impact on your health. Researchers found that people who report moderate to severe problems in issues of falling asleep, or having trouble staying asleep, were a lot more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after a certain time such as a year, compared with the ones who do not have problems falling asleep. 

It is not exaggerating to suggest that sleep quality plays a big role in your body health and musculoskeletal pain, and sleeping with body pain is the start of another vicious cycle. 

Match your pillow height 

To help ease the stress on your neck, follow these guidelines for choosing the correct pillow based on your preferred sleeping position:

Back sleepers may benefit from a thin pillow. Test if a pillow is right for you by lying down on the pillow and having a family member or friend take a picture of the curve of your neck. Ideally, the curve of your neck will look similar to when you're standing with good posture (standing tall with your head up and shoulders back).

Side sleepers typically need a thicker pillow than back sleepers to ensure the neck and head are positioned in the middle of the shoulders. Your height and the width of your shoulders will help determine the kind of pillow you ought to buy—so if you’re petite you will need a slimmer pillow than if you’re broad-shouldered.

Stomach sleepers may benefit from an ultra-slim pillow or foregoing a pillow altogether. Since sleeping on the stomach places more stress on the cervical spine compared to other sleep positions, some people may want to avoid this position.

If you’re a back or side sleeper, you may also benefit from placing a small roll-shaped pillow under your neck for additional support—or you can simply use a rolled-up towel.

Ditch your phone before bedtime

Believe it or not, your phone could be hindering your sleep in a couple ways.

Many people bend their head to look at the phone on the bed, the further you bend your head forward, the more stress it causes on the cervical spine.

Your phone emits a blue light, which will hinder your sleep cycle, and delay the body to release melatonin. 

A good sleep could contribute to the recovery of body aches and pains. If you have to look at your phone near bedtime, hold it at eye level and limit screen time to only a few minutes.

Some extra tips
  • Use two pillows with the top one staggered slightly back of the bottom one. 
  • Sleep on the side or back, and have the bottom pillow supporting shoulders while the top one for the neck. 
  • Hug the pillow or tuck it up high under the arm. 
  • Use a pillow between your legs when you sleep on the side, or behind the things when lying on your back. This helps take pressure off your whole spine. 
  • Gently breath when you first lie down to calm your body and improve oxygen flow to your muscles. 
  • If your neck or shoulder pain lingers for more than 3 days, then you should see a physical therapist. 
  • Never underestimate how a bad body condition could negatively affect your sleep quality or vice versa, because it is a vicious cycle that has serious consequences. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Recent articles