Say “Goodnight” to neck pain

Neck pain and disturbed sleep are common themes at the moment with so many people commenting on stress and the impact of this; namely ears up around shoulders, tension headaches, neck pain and/or stiffness and feeling lethargy and general exhaustion. So I hope you find the information included here useful; you should be able to implement it immediately with good effects.

When it comes to neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It’s true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control, but there are some practical things you can try to minimise discomfort. One place to start is to look at how you sleep and what effect this may have on neck pain. Read on for my top tips on how to improve your neck pain and sleep.

What is the best sleeping position for neck pain?

Sleeping on your stomach is tough on your spine, because the back is arched and your neck is turned to the side. Preferred sleeping positions are often set early in life and can be tough to change, not to mention that we don’t often wake up in the same position in which we fell asleep. Still, it’s worth trying to start the night sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, healthy position.

Two sleeping positions are easier on the neck: on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head. This can be achieved by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter, softer pillow, or by using a special pillow that has a built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest in.

​Beyond sleep position

Research suggests that not just sleep position, but sleep itself, can play a role in musculoskeletal pain, including neck and shoulder pain. In one study, researchers compared musculoskeletal pain in 4,140 healthy men and women with and without sleeping problems. Sleeping problems included difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking early in the mornings, and non-restorative sleep. They found that people who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who reported little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.

So with that in mind, I love listening to a quick 3-minute guided meditation off youtube. For more relaxation and meditation exercises, try Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer or Smiling Mind; these are some of my favourite apps, and ones I use quite a lot.