Neck pain can be an extremely frustrating problem when trying to sleep. While no one likes to suffer neck pain during waking hours, night time pain is especially damaging, because pain can cause lack of sleep and lack of sleep can cause further discomfort.
With this in mind, it’s important to minimize your pain through good practices while sleeping, and supplementing those habits with a pillow that helps you to manage your pain.
Heat it up and cool it off! Heat can increase your bloodflow and ease stiffness. You can use a hot water bottle, a hot shower, or a wet towel to relieve some tension (don’t do this for too long, as too much heat can actually exacerbate your symptoms).
You can follow this up by cooling down your neck (or skip right to this step). Ice packs can help numb your pain and bring down swelling. Apply an icepack (either homemade or store bought) to your neck for 10 minutes.
Keep your Work at Eye Level:
Are you coming home from work with bad neck pain? You might want to adjust your “work eye-level.” People can hurt their necks from looking down or up at their work on a regular basis. If you’re stocking shelves or taking things down all day, stop reaching and craning your neck, and take the time to get a ladder. If you are looking down at a monitor all day, find a way to raise your work to eye level – ask your office manager for an adjustable monitor, or take a DIY approach and stack your monitor on a sturdy textbook.
Sleeping on your back or side is the best way to minimize the chance of developing or worsening your neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach actually arches your back, putting unnecessary pressure on your spine. This position also requires you keep your head turned to the side so you can breathe, leading to severe neck stiffness and pain.
Choose the Right Pillow:
This ties in with the previous step – all pillows are not created equal! In fact, the wrong pillow can actually make your neck pain worse.
Pillows that are too thick – or high – make your neck stay in a flexed position overnight, and can cause a miserable morning. Your pillow should have enough ‘give’ so that your head is sinking in a little bit, and not in a raised position. In addition, you can look for a pillow that maintains the natural curve of your neck – basically, you want to keep your neck from working all night just to sleep!
Finally, keep yourself comfortable when traveling – travel pillows can help maintain comfort and support when you’re upright on a train, plane, or bus.
Keep this advice in mind to help prevent and minimize neck pain. With good habits, and help from tools like pillows and ice packs, you can help keep your neck happy and pain-free!