The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping with Neck Pain | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping with Neck Pain

Neck Pain Sleep

Sleep is essential for our overall well-being. When you are sleeping is when you are healing! Sleep is when your body, mind, and soul heal from your day-to-day life.

Neck pain can make it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep. However, improving your sleep position can significantly alleviate neck pain and promote better sleep quality. Which leads to decreased pain during the day. If you have been struggling to get quality sleep at night due to neck pain then read on for our top tips on eliminating neck pain and getting the sleep you deserve.

Understanding the Importance of a Neutral Spine

Maintaining a neutral spine alignment while sleeping is crucial for reducing strain on the neck and supporting its natural curvature. When the spine is properly aligned, it helps distribute body weight evenly and prevents excessive pressure on the neck and surrounding muscles

When it comes to the neck, you want to ensure that your neck and head are appropriately supported. Having a pillow that supports both the curvature in your neck and supports your head in a neutral position while you are sleeping will help to decrease pain and improve sleep.

We recommend the Pillowise pillow for this reason. Pillowise comes in different sizes based on your specific measurements so it’s custom fit to you and your body. If you would like to come in for a Complimentary Pillowise fitting, feel free to contact us to schedule your appointment today.

The Right Support – Your Pillow and Mattress

The type of pillow and mattress you use can significantly impact your sleeping posture and neck pain. Investing in a quality pillow and mattress tailored to your specific needs can make a significant difference in alleviating neck pain.

Your pillow needs to support the curvature of your neck and head to maintain that neutral position. Now, neutral can be different for each person.

One patient we worked with was stuck in a very kyphotic posture and slept on his back. For him, we had to use 2 firm pillows in a wedge formation to ensure that his head and neck were equally supported. Although we wouldn’t recommend 2 pillows for most people, this was what he required due to his structural limitations. Each person is different so ensure that your head and neck are supported correctly for your body.

Your mattress also needs to support all the curvatures of your spine. That includes the curvatures around your low back and hips.

Now, which mattress is “the best”? The answer to this question is challenging because it’s based on your body type…and that of any other people sleeping in your bed with you. Making sure that you have enough support without sacrificing comfort can be difficult.

Dr. Amy sleeps on a firm mattress with a pillow top. The firm mattress helps to support the spine while the pillow top allows her to sink those hips in. It’s important to ensure that you don’t have “hot spots” that get aggravated when you stay in one position for hours on end.

Our top recommendation is to visit a showroom and give it a try. Make sure you lie down on the mattress in the position you usually sleep in whether that’s on your side or on your back. This way you can see if you end up with any pain spots while sleeping.

Avoid Stomach Sleeping

Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for neck pain sufferers. If forces your neck to twist unnaturally to the side, putting excessive strain on the muscles and vertebrae. If you’re usually a stomach sleeper then try to transition to side or back sleeping gradually.

One idea to try is to use pillows strategically to discourage stomach sleeping. Place a body pillow under your hips to make it uncomfortable to roll onto your stomach.

Be patient with yourself if you are a chronic stomach sleeper but keep working to find strategies that encourage side or back sleeping.

Side Sleeping with Neck Pain

Side sleeping is generally recommended for you if you struggle with neck pain as it can help keep the spine aligned and reduce pressure on the neck. However, it’s essential to maintain proper posture while sleeping on your side.

Support your neck and your head – Ensure that your head and the curvature of your neck are equally supported. We recommend the Pillowise pillow for this purpose. However, you can also roll up a small hand towel to support your neck. Simply place that rolled up towel on your pillow to offer more support.

Support your low back – Ladies, this point is particularly helpful for you if you find a gap between your hips and ribs when you are lying on your side. You can place a bed pillow under your low back to help your spine maintain a neutral position.

The angle between your knees and hips – Again, ladies, I am looking at you! Our hips tend to be wider than our knees so placing a pillow in between your knees can help to maintain that neutral spine while you are in bed.

Back Sleeping with Neck Pain

Back sleeping is another good position for neck pain relief, as it allows your spine to rest in a neutral position. However, it’s essential to support your body properly to prevent your neck form straining. If you are a back sleeper then you need some different support.

Support your neck and your head – Back sleeper needs a thinner pillow to support their head. The Pillowise pillow works for back sleepers, too! (and, it works great for those who switch from back to side during the night). If you are a primary back sleeper then use a thinner pillow with a smaller towel roll under your neck to ensure you are properly supported.

Use a pillow under your knees – This decreases tension through the hamstrings which helps to maintain the natural curve of your low back. Using a pillow (or two!) under your knees can help to reduce pressure on your spine.

If you are struggling with neck pain finding a comfortable position can be difficult. Try these ideas above to get a better night’s sleep.

Already tried the tips above and continue to regularly wake up with neck pain? Then I encourage you to schedule a Free Discovery Visit so we can figure out what is going on with your body. Sleeping is when your body should be resting and recovering. If you do not wake up feeling rejuvenated because of your neck pain then a Free Discovery Visit is perfect for you. We can discuss what is causing your neck pain and help you figure out the next best step for you.

Ready to get started on eliminating your neck pain? Give us a call at (425) 658-4944 to start your healing journey to eliminating neck pain for good. Our Specialists are uniquely trained to find the root cause of neck pain as well as develop a treatment plan specifically tailored to you and your body.

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
Dr. Amy Konvalin

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