Neck pain can come on suddenly, like from a weekend athletic effort or a car accident injury. What many people don’t expect is that it can also sneak up on you. One of the main ways people develop neck pain is while they sleep.
The last way you want to start your morning is in pain. Unfortunately, one in three adults experience neck pain each day, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s a lot of people living their lives with a pain in their neck.
Visits to the chiropractor can help relieve your pain by getting to the source of your discomfort. A chiropractor has the experience to appreciate where in your neck and back the pain is coming from. With chiropractic care you will feel lasting results that will help you live your life with less pain and more mobility.
While you wait for your chiropractic appointment, there are some simple home remedies and easy changes you can make to manage your pain. If you develop pain in the neck, consider some of these at-home solutions.
Several causes can make your neck pain worse while you sleep:
- Sleeping position
Falling asleep with your neck at an unusual angle can stretch or strain your muscles and joints. Stomach sleeping is the worst sleeping position for your neck as it forces your head to one side for prolonged periods.
- Sudden movement
Sudden tossing or turning while waking up or reacting to a dream can strain your neck muscles.
- Previous injury
Some injuries, like whiplash from a car accident or sports injury, take time before you feel the full effect on your body. While your neck is relatively still while sleeping, stiffness can increase during that time, leaving you with a very sore neck in the morning.
- Pillow choice
Pillows should be supportive, holding the natural position of your neck and spine while you sleep. Memory foam and feather pillows tend to do this job best.
How you spend your waking hours also affects your neck pain. If you have poor posture or spend long periods of time in one position or sitting at a computer, your neck muscles may already be stressed before you even go to bed. Then, if you don’t properly support your head while you sleep, the strain will only worsen.
What to Do
Try some of these strategies to ease your sore neck and get some relief.
Ice helps reduce swelling that may be caused by an injury or strain to your neck muscles. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen peas in a thin dish towel and apply to the affected area for 10-20 minutes at a time. Typically, for injuries, ice therapy is best for the first couple days, then heat therapy can be used.
A heating pad, hot water bottle or even a hot shower can relax tight muscles and ease stiffness. Try applying heat for 20 minutes at a time. Cold should be used in the first 72 hours following an injury and then a transition to heat is suggested.
Gentle and slow neck stretches in every direction can help stiff muscles. Don’t over-extend and stop when there is any additional pain. It’s normal to not have full range of motion when you are in pain. Try easy yoga or light exercise like walking, which can keep blood moving and help your neck heal. Don’t stay in bed or in one resting position, which may cause additional stiffness and pain.
Gentle pressure on the sore muscles through massage may help release some of the pain-causing tension.
Stop neck pain before it starts by making a few easy changes to your evening routine.
- Sleep on your side or back, not your stomach. Place a pillow between your legs for added support.
- Sleep on a more supportive pillow like a memory foam, feather or contoured pillow. Ensure the pillow is under your neck and not just your head.
- Sleep on a medium to firm mattress that doesn’t sag in the middle.
- During the day, be mindful of your neck. Don’t sit in one position for too long, or hunch over a phone or computer screen. Stay active and maintain good posture