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There are some things all people tend to experience from time to time and one of them is neck pain. How many times have you woken up with neck pain from sleeping in an awkward position? Sometimes, the pain goes away after a few hours and sometimes it sticks for a few days.
However, an inadequate sleeping position is not always the cause for the pain you feel in your neck. During the day, we tend to strain our necks without even realizing it. We use our smartphones and computers for hours and by doing so we put our necks in a position that stresses neck ligaments and muscles. In addition, neck pain can be caused by other factors such as an injury to the joints or soft tissues, simple strains, and even headaches.
Putting up with neck pain might be bearable throughout the day. But, it gets really annoying when you are supposed to go to bed. Finding a comfortable position and falling asleep suddenly becomes an impossible task. If you are desperately trying to find how to sleep with severe neck pain, keep reading.
If you are in the group of people who only feels neck pain when waking up and it tends to go away during the day then you should read the waking up with neck pain article.
Causes of Neck Pain
A human head can weigh up to 12 pounds. And, your neck is responsible for not only holding your head but also allowing it to move up, down, and around. Since the neck doesn’t have as much padding as our spine does, it is more vulnerable to aches and pains.
The most common cause of neck pain is sleeping in an inadequate position. Your head can fall into an awkward position that puts stress on your neck muscles while you are sleeping. When this happens, your brain might do you a favor and urge you to reposition yourself so your neck could get some relief. In some cases, you will choose to ignore your brain and, as a result, make the strain worse. Of course, you will feel the consequences as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Sleeping in an awkward position is not the only reason behind experiencing neck pain. Sometimes, your personal choices might influence it, such as picking out the wrong pillow or a mattress. In addition, it is likely that you strain your neck while you are studying, sitting at your desk, or using your computer or smartphone. Most of the time, this type of neck pain isn’t serious and it will go away on its own after a few days.
Of course, there can be many other causes such as an inflammation of the soft tissues caused by trauma or bruising or even vertebrae damage from accidents. Some conditions such as arthritis or painful inflammation of the joints might be the cause of the neck pain that prevents you from sleeping properly. In addition, nerve compression or herniated disks can cause chronic neck pain as well. Some of these issues might go away on their own. However, if you have been struggling with neck pain for a longer period of time, then you should consult your healthcare provider.
Getting rid of neck pain is sometimes as simple as making an easy adjustment in how you sit or move. Other times, you might need some over-the-counter pain remedies or even physical therapy. However, until you find a way to cure the pain you will need to learn how to sleep with severe neck pain.
Solutions for Sleeping With Neck Pain
1. Change Your Sleeping Habits
Regardless of whether your sleeping habits are the cause of your neck pain, they might be the thing that is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. If you are struggling with stiff neck pain then it is recommended to avoid sleeping on your stomach. Lying down in this position forces you to rotate your neck to one side. This means that your neck will stretch and your soft tissues will be in an unnatural state throughout the night. In addition, your pillow might raise your neck upwards, putting even more stress on your neck.
Speaking of pillows, they might be your best friend or your worst enemy. There are so many types of pillows out there, and you should choose one for you based on your sleeping position. For example, back sleepers should use a thin but firm pillow that provides neck support. Side sleepers, on the other hand, should get a pillow that is thick enough to keep their head elevated above their shoulders. If you must sleep on your stomach (even though we recommend you not to), you can try using an ultra-slim pillow or avoid using a pillow at all. In addition, you can always provide additional support for your neck by placing a roll-shaped pillow or a rolled up towel under your neck. Or, you can even buy a specially-designed pillow for neck pain.
2. Stretch the Muscles in Your Neck
If you spend most of your day sitting, slouching, or you have a bad posture in general, you might end up with neck pain. Unfortunately, the pain will not go away quickly and it might cause you trouble while trying to fall asleep at night.
Since neck pain is often caused by tightened neck muscles, you can try stretching your neck. Stretching loosens tight muscles and might provide some pain relief. Keep in mind that it is recommended to warm up muscles before stretching them. You can take a hot shower or use a hot compress.
Here are a few simple neck stretches you can try out:
- Turn your head to the left and use your left hand to apply light tension on your chin so your head can turn slightly more. Hold your head in this position for about 20 seconds and then return your head to the center. Repeat on the other side.
- Tilt your head on one side as if you are trying to touch your shoulder with your ear. Then, use your hand to apply light pressure on your temple. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Bend your head forward and try to touch your chest with your chin. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed while you are doing this. Stretch for a few seconds, rest, and then repeat the exercise again.
- Lie down on your neck, bend your knees, and put a pillow under your head and neck. Then, nod your head gently as if you were saying “yes.” Hold your head in this position for a few seconds and relax. You should repeat this exercise up to 10 times.
3. Watch Out for Your Smartphone
We spend so much time staring at our smartphones and most of us do it while lying in bed at night. Well, not only can this habit cause neck pain but it can also affect the quality of your sleep. The light that our smartphones emit can affect our brains negatively and make it harder for us to fall asleep. So, if you must browse your phone while in bed, here is the right way to do it.
When you are looking at your phone (sitting or lying down) you may tilt your head at an angle of up to 60 degrees. At this angle, your neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons will be strained. The recommended angle is holding your phone at the eye level and limiting the use to only a few minutes.
4. Other Tips for Pain Relief
Here are some other tips that might help you relieve neck pain and fall asleep more easily:
- Use ice in short increments.
- Have someone massage the affected area.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain.
- Do your best to avoid stress. Neck pain can sometimes be caused by stress.
- Make sure to stay hydrated and get enough sleep (if possible).
- Try out acupuncture or visit a chiropractor.
Take action and you will find a solution for your Neck Pain
If you are struggling with neck pain, then you might find it hard to fall asleep at night. And, lack of sleep can make the pain even worse. Hopefully, this article has helped you track down the cause of the neck pain you’re experiencing and also provided some tips that can help you relieve the pain and get some rest. If you are looking for tips on how to help you sleep you can read the article on how to sleep like a baby.
If your neck pain lasts for more than a week and keeps interrupting your sleep, make sure to consult with your doctor. They may be able to give you some medication or recommend a treatment plan that will help you improve your sleep schedule.
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