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Why Does My Neck Hurt After Sleeping?

By Donna Stark

Sleep and Neck Pain

It’s happened again, hasn’t it? You woke up this morning feeling like someone, or something, spent the entire night tying and knotting your neck muscles into one disastrous mess. The pain you are feeling is a burning kind of pain that starts at the top of your neck, travels down the sides, and settles into your innocent shoulder blades. And if your back didn’t know any better, it would think the pain is coming after it too! If that wasn’t bad enough, turning your head from side to side is nearly impossible, isn’t it? You may be left wondering what you did to deserve such horrible treatment, but before you start digging too deeply into your past behaviors, let’s take a look at two of the most obvious culprits -- your sleep position and the type of pillow you use.

Changing Your Sleep Position

Sleeping in an unnatural position throughout the night is a surefire way to wake up with neck pain, but what exactly does “unnatural” mean? After all, we all look a little wonky while we sleep, don’t we? The difference between a healthy and unhealthy sleeping position is that one supports the natural curve of your neck and spine and the other one doesn’t. When falling asleep, your most important job is to choose the right position. Fortunately, there are a couple you can choose from.

Experts typically recommend sleeping on your side or your back to prevent neck pain and muscle strain from occurring because these positions tend to distribute the pressure placed on your body more evenly. On the other hand, sleeping on your stomach should be avoided at all costs! That’s because it increases the levels of stress and strain exerted on the spine. If you’ve always been a stomach sleeper, changing positions may be a hard habit to break, but it’s worth giving it a shot! Who knows? By doing so, there’s a good chance you will wake up feeling better than ever before.

Choosing a Different Pillow

What type of pillow are you using? Are you sleeping on a thick pillow, a thin pillow, or are you more of a “no pillow” kind of sleeper? If you get at least eight hours of sleep every night, that means you are spending a third of your day in bed, and that’s a lot of time for things to go wrong. You need to make sure you’re taking the right precautions for great rest and pain-free mornings, and one of those precautions is to support your neck with the right kind of pillow.

You should try to keep your head and neck in a neutral position as much as you can while you catch up on your snoozes. In other words, it might be time to say goodbye to the pillow that places them in that uncomfortable and awkward angle you’re used to sleeping in. What you should be using instead is a pillow that cradles the two without pushing or bending them upwards, downwards, or to the side. This will help reduce the risk of experiencing pain or a stiff neck after sleeping. A feather pillow or memory foam pillows are great for this because they tend to conform to your neck’s natural shape and encourage a healthier sleeping position.

The last thing you’ll need to know about bed pillows is how often they should be replaced. No matter how close you and your pillow have become, you shouldn’t keep it forever. Unfortunately, it’s generally recommended to replace your pillows every one to two years, though there may be a reason to get rid of them sooner. If your pillow is sagging, lumpy, flattened, or dirty, head to the store for a new one right away.

Visiting The Joint Chiropractic

Thankfully, poor sleeping positions and the wrong pillows are easy things to fix, but if your neck needs more attention and love, a visit to your local chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic may be in order! The adjustments you’ll receive can help alleviate the discomfort you are feeling by relaxing the body, loosening stiff joints, and easing muscle tension and strain.

Saying Goodbye to Morning Neck Pain and Stiffness

Being proactive at bedtime and establishing routine chiropractic care are two of the easiest ways to relieve neck pain and stiffness in the morning. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, so start making those changes today!

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