A man facing away holding his neck.

Addressing Neck Pain

May 19, 2017

We spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping. Well, when all goes as planned, that is. There’s little more important than getting a good night’s rest, so it makes sense that there’s nothing as frustrating as tossing and turning, unable to get the sleep you need. Oftentimes this is linked to or can result in pain throughout the body. Based on how you sleep, your neck, shoulders, back, and hips are all at risk for wear and tear, for strain, and pain.

Neck pain can be a real…well, pain in the neck. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can try to reduce it while sleeping.

As you might imagine, pillows become very important when dealing with neck issues. Feather pillows easily conform, which can prove useful when treating a sore neck, while memory foam pillows can assist in proper spinal alignment. Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid high and stiff pillows that keep your neck flexed. You’ll want to match your pillow height with your preferred sleep position: too high or low can constrict breathing and strain your neck muscles.

For back sleepers, consider a thinner pillow, keeping your curve neck like that of good posture. An additional rounded neck pillow can help support that curve as well. For a DIY approach, try stuffing a rolled-up towel into a flatter pillow’s case and position it under the neck.

For side sleepers, consider using a pillow higher under the neck than the head to ensure the neck and head are positioned in the middle of your shoulders.

For those traveling, a horseshoe-shaped neck pillow may prove helpful.

Be aware while using your cell phone of possible accompanying muscle strain, sometimes referred to as “text neck.” This is also possible while reading a book, watching television, or using a laptop. Take special care to adjust your posture accordingly, or consider investing in an adjustable base for ultimate support.

Many of us spend our work hours sitting at desks, which can lead to nightly pain. Practice proper posture during the day, avoid slouching, and adjust how you sit to help offset this.

General Tips

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Sleeping on your stomach is almost never a good decision. It flattens the natural curve of your spine and invites pain all over, including the neck. Your head is forced to awkwardly turn to either side, putting undue stress on your muscles. If you can’t seem to sleep any other way, consider sleeping without a pillow at all. Side and back sleep positions are much preferable, and varying your sleep position throughout the night may be the best solution.

One of the best ways to enhance your sleep and reduce the possibility of injury is practicing what is known as proper “sleep hygiene,” or good habits to ensure consistently high-quality sleep. Some of these habits include sticking to a nightly routine and sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time daily), reducing stimulants before bed, exercising regularly, avoiding abuse of sleeping medicine, keeping your sleep environment cool and dark, exposing yourself to natural light during the day, avoiding blue light emitted by some technology, stretching, and much more. The better you sleep at night, the less likely you are to experience pain. Quality sleep can help your muscles relax and heal, while sleep deprivation negatively impacts how we perceive pain.

Finally, poor sleep is even more likely on the wrong mattress and pillow. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to improve your sleep. Take our exclusive in-store Sleep Assessment to determine what’s keeping you up at night and find a properly fitted solution.

With any luck, you’ve found some small way to help you sleep better at night. If your issues persist, it may be time to see a doctor for a professional opinion. But if your issues can be fixed with a sleep solution, we’ve got you covered. Visit a conveniently located Sleep Outfitters near you today!

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