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Have you been experiencing neck pain every morning for some time now? The ache is often just an annoyance but it can turn into quite a painful experience. Sometimes, neck pain can be caused by a medical condition or an injury. It can even be a symptom of a more serious problem. Fortunately, many causes of neck pain are things that you can control such as the way you hit the hay.
Poor posture, such as hunching over your workbench or leaning over your computer, can strain your neck muscles. Also, the pain might be a result of sleeping in an awkward pose. While you are sleeping, your head might fall into an uncomfortable position that puts stress upon your neck muscles. As a result, you will wake up the next morning feeling pain. There are so many things you can do to avoid neck pain in general; you can start paying attention to your sleeping positions, buy a new pillow for neck pain, or, god-forbid, do some exercise.
Causes of Morning Neck Pain
Before you start thinking that the pain you feel in your neck is caused by some serious medical issue, consider if there is some other cause. For example, one of the most common culprits for an achy neck is your pillow and your sleeping habits. Keep reading to find out how these might be the cause of your neck pain. for tips on how to sleep while suffering from neck pain then you should read the following article on sleeping with neck pain.
The Wrong Pillow
Even before you go to sleep you probably make one common mistake – you don’t support your head properly while watching TV or reading in bed. You should always choose a pillow that positions your head in a neutral position. Avoid using several pillows which cause your head to bend forward. Also, using a pillow that is too flat will make your head bend downwards which can also cause neck pain. Instead, consider getting a feather or memory foam pillow or even a pillow for neck pain.
Your Sleeping Position
Chances are that you’ve had a favorite sleeping position for years now. However, the truth is that the way you sleep might be doing you harm. For example, if you want to prevent neck pain while sleeping, it is strongly advised not to sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleepers twist their necks to the side, putting pressure on nerves and muscles. Sleeping on your back instead might help you wake up in the morning without feeling any pain.
Weak/Stiff Neck Muscles
So, you’ve tried changing your pillow and your sleeping position but the neck pain still persists? Then you should consider stretching your neck or doing some exercises that can strengthen your neck muscles. If the cause of your neck pain is not a medical one, then you will start feeling like your old self in no time.
It is truly a vicious cycle – neck pain can cause sleep problems which, in turn, might cause even greater pain. If this sounds like you, then maybe you should consider changing some of your sleep habits. It is recommended to have a regular sleep schedule and go to bed/wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. Also, you should avoid drinking alcohol and coffee before going to bed as well as eating too much. Good practices also include getting regular exercise, doing something relaxing before bed (such as taking a warm bath or doing yoga) and avoiding screens before you hit the sack. for more tips on sleep hygiene you could read the how to sleep like a baby article.
If none of the abovementioned causes apply to you and you can’t seem to get rid of the neck pain, then it is perhaps the time to see your doctor. Medical neck pain causes include:
- Muscle strains. Even the relaxing activities, such as reading in bed, can strain neck muscles. Let’s not even mention what sitting hunched over your computer for hours can do to your neck.
- Worn joints. Neck joints wear down with age and, as a result, your body forms bone spurs that can affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. Nerves branching out from the spinal cord can be pressed by herniated disks or bone spurs, causing neck pain.
- Injuries. Any motion which causes the head to be jerked backward and then forward can strain the soft tissues of the neck and cause neck pain.
How to Prevent Neck Pain in the Morning
Many people think that waking up with neck pain in the morning is just something they have to live with. However, you don’t. There are a few things you can do that can prevent waking up with neck pain every morning.
Pick a Proper Pillow
Let’s face it – the most probable cause of neck pain would be the thing you sleep on every night for hours. Most of the pillows do not provide proper support. Our necks need to be in a neutral position so your neck muscles have a break. A pillow that is too high puts your neck in a flexed position, causing your muscles to stretch. On the other hand, a pillow that is too low won’t provide proper support and the joints between the vertebrae in your neck will compress onto each other. Also, a pillow that is too soft won’t do you any good since your muscles will be working all night to stabilize your neck. If you don’t pick a proper pillow for neck pain, you will wake up with a stiff and achy neck in the morning.
The best pillow for neck pain will support your neck as you sleep. But before you get one, try out this neat trick that will help you determine whether such pillow will be of any use to you. The first thing you need to do is to determine what kind of sleeper you are – back sleeper, side sleeper, or turner in bed. Then, grab a bath towel and try the following.
Back sleepers should roll the towel to a thickness of up to 11/2 inches. Then, put your shoulders on the lower border of the pillow and place the towel behind your neck. If you are a side sleeper, you should roll the towel and make it about 2 to 21/2 inches thick. Your shoulder should be at the bottom of the pillow and the towel roll under the side of your neck. Those who turn from side to side as they sleep should roll the towel up to 2 inches and place it under their neck. This way, you will provide some support to your neck regardless of your sleeping position.
Using this towel trick should make you feel more comfortable immediately. If it doesn’t, then try to adjust the towel and make it more or less thick. Most importantly, the towel roll should help you determine what kind of pillow for neck pain you actually need.
Do Neck Exercises & Stretches
Doing neck exercises and stretching your neck regularly will help you maintain a strong base for your neck. Flexibility and strength of joints and muscles is a winning combination when it comes to preventing pain. Try doing some of the following exercises to prevent neck pain while sleeping.
- Rotate your chin toward one shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Release and return your head to a neutral position. Then, rotate it to the other side. You can use your hand to push your neck a bit farther and stretch a bit deeper. Repeat the exercise 3 to 5 times on each side.
- Tilt your head to one side and bring your ear as close to the shoulder as possible. Hold for 20 seconds and then release. You can use your hand to gently pull your head farther into the stretch. Repeat on the other side. You should do this exercise 3 to 5 times on each side.
- Sit up straight and make sure your ears are in line with your shoulders. Then, move your head backward as if you’re trying to tuck your chin in. You will feel a stretch from your neck to the base of the skull. Do this exercise up to 10 times a day.
- Do neck rolls before you go to bed and when you wake up. Sit up tall, inhale and roll your neck to one side. As you exhale, roll it back toward your chest and then to the other side so you’re looking up. Repeat the stretch 3 times on each side.
How to Treat a Stiff Neck in the Morning
According to Andrew Bang, a chiropractor at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, a stiff neck is most commonly a result of muscles weakening over time. You can immediately tackle a stiff neck in the morning by doing neck stretches. Try rolling your shoulders backward and down and then squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat each exercise at least 10 times in a row. Once you do this, push your head backward with your hands and hold for at least 30 seconds. The last exercise you can try is to bring your ear to your shoulder at least 10 times on each side.
Here are some other remedies that can help you treat a stiff neck:
- Apply ice to the painful area for the first 48 to 72 hours. After that, try applying heat with a heating pad, hot compress, or a warm shower. Be careful when applying a heating pad or an ice bag since they can cause skin injuries.
- Get some over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Have someone gently massage the painful areas.
- Stay on the move but try to avoid any jerking or painful motions. This will calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation.
- If any motion causes neck pain, ask your health care provider for a soft neck collar. It will limit your movement and relieve discomfort. Keep in mind that wearing a neck collar for a long period of time can weaken your neck muscles.
- Besides stretching your neck, you can also try doing neck exercises that will stretch and strengthen the neck muscles. Move your neck up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear.
- Try sleeping without a pillow on a firm mattress or try out a pillow for neck pain.
Morning Neck Pain can be solved
If you wake up with neck pain every morning or you simply want to prevent this from happening, then there are a few things you can do. You should start with by examining and, if necessary, changing your sleep habits, sleep position, and even your pillow. If you don’t even know how old your pillow is, then it is definitely the time to do some shopping. In addition, make sure to stretch your neck on a regular basis so you could reduce the tension that was placed on your neck during the day. Don’t forget to pay attention to your posture throughout the day since a proper posture can prevent neck pain from developing at all.
However, if the pain persists for a longer period of time, it would be beneficial to seek professional help. Your doctor can establish whether the pain is caused by some injury or another medical condition and recommend a proper treatment. You can also visit a physiotherapist and seek a few treatment sessions. The sessions can provide relief by helping your muscles get released and your joints mobilized.
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