Do you ever wake up in the morning with a stiff neck? Your preferred sleeping position might be causing unnecessary pain. “Sleeping in poor positions may cause prolonged stress to your neck,” says Steven Knauf, DC, the executive director of chiropractic and compliance at The Joint Chiropractic. “For example, stomach sleepers often sleep with their head to one side so that they’re able to breath. Over time, this can stress muscles in the neck, which may cause stiffness or pain.”
That’s not even the worst part. If the problem isn’t addressed quickly, Dr. Knauf says you may begin to experience other symptoms, like headaches and even tingling in your arms or hands. That’s why now is the time to take action, starting with sticking to better sleeping positions for neck pain.
The best sleeping positions for people dealing with neck pain
Dr. Knauf says the most important thing to remember to avoid cricking your neck while you’re sleeping is to always keep your head in a neutral position. Since stomach-sleeping is no longer an option (sorry, folks!), stick to your back or side and keep these chiropractor-backed tips in mind before closing your eyes.
1. On your back
If you sleep on your back, Dr. Knauf says you might need to upgrade your pillow. “Having a pillow that supports the natural curve of the neck, but doesn’t push the head forward, is a must,” he says. “Your ears should be in line with your shoulders with some support between the top of your shoulders to the base of your head.”
Pillow: Eli & Elm Ultimate Pillow for Side Sleepers, $100
This pillow is made specifically for side sleepers. It’s U-shape design helps keep your spine properly aligned and holds your head up properly while you’re sleeping. It’s also adjustable. You can easily remove some of the filling to ensure the pillow is at your desired height and support level.
Shop now: Eli & Elm Ultimate Pillow for Side Sleepers, $100
2. On your side
When you sleep on your side, you’ll have to play Goldilocks in order to get your pillow just right. “For side sleepers, it’s important to have a pillow that isn’t so big that it pushes your head toward your shoulder or one too thin where your head now leans to the side that you sleep on,” says Dr. Knauf.
Pillow: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow, $80
This pillow solves the issue of having to find something that’s not too big and not too thin. It’s totally customizable, allowing you to easily add or remove some of the gel-infused memory foam and microfiber fill in order to get the right height and support. When your spine is in the correct alignment on your pillow, you won’t wake up with neck pain.
Shop now: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow, $80
How to fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night:
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