Waking up with uncomfortable feelings in your neck is nothing new these days. If you’re anything like me, your day can become a complete mess after such a night.
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid that.
Below, I’m sharing the most effective tips on how to get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong.
I hope you will find your perfect remedy among them.
1. Stretch Your Muscles
Morning stretching is a great habit even for those who don’t suffer from neck pain when they wake up. For those who do, though, exercising can become a real healing. Doing several necks stretches every day will not only help you relieve the current uncomfortable feelings but also strengthen your muscles, thus reducing the chances of waking up with neck pain after sleeping again. If your pain is too strong to do complicated exercises, at least move your neck from side to side, up and down.
“Neck exercises should be done very slowly and carefully to avoid any potential injuries. For example, you can cause damage to facet joints, compress your nerves, or block the blood supply to your brain.”
Please, don’t start stretching immediately when you open your eyes in the morning. You will reach a maximum effect from stretching if you let your body wake up first.
Just lie in your bed for 10 minutes or so, remember your plans for the day, prepare that it’s going to be good, and only then you can get up and start any physical activity.
Here’s a funny thing:
Having neck pain has at least one benefit over having back pain – you can massage the neck yourself.
Indeed, your neck is an easily accessible area, which you can massage on your own without straining too hard. What you need to do is put your head down, without pressing it toward your chest, and roll your fingers around the painful area.
“Massage techniques when applied properly cause the release of endorphins in a human body. These hormones are known to reduce pain. Thus, when you’re receiving a message, your body produces its natural painkillers”
3. Use a Cold or Warm Compress
Cold and warm compresses are very helpful when you slept on neck wrong, and the best part is that they work pretty fast. It takes several minutes for a heating pad to warm up the painful area and stimulate blood blow to it. With ice packs, it is a bit tricky, though.
You should be very careful in order not to cool down your neck too much. Otherwise, you’re risking to make it worse. So, ice packs should be applied to the impacted area for a very little time.
4. Take a Shower or a Bath
Warm or hot water is always good for stiff muscles. Stand under a spray of water for several minutes, keeping your neck straight but relaxed. While this may help only with slight stiffness, a long bath can do wonders and relieve even severe pain. Use additives like bath salts to let your body soak in and relax.
“If post-bath headaches and dizziness because of overheating are an ordinary thing for you, make sure to leave a bathroom door open for air circulation.
This way you allow the fresh cool air to come in and the hot air to leave. Another way to avoid overheating is to keep your hands and feet cool by wiping them with a wet piece of cloth.”
5. Take Meds
If you slept on neck wrong and have very little time to do something about the pain before you set off to work, stop by a local pharmacy on your way and ask a health professional for advice. There surely are some over-the-counter pills they can offer you to use to alleviate the discomfort.
Make sure you’ve read the instructions and don’t overdose. If the pain is too severe and doesn’t go away, don’t try to treat it with another drug. A visit to a doctor is strongly recommended.
6. Use a Balm or a Cream
Plenty of creams, gels, balms, and ointments are available today in any drugstore, so it won’t be a problem for you to buy one of them.
Here’s how they work:
They either warm your skin, stimulating blood flow and relaxing muscles, or cool it, constricting blood vessels and thus numbing neck pain.
Treatments that contain natural ingredients will probably be less effective and take more time to actually work. However, they are a safer option, especially if it’s not the first time you feel pain after you’ve slept on neck wrong.
Quick note: Look for capsaicin, camphor, and menthol on a label. These are the most common pain relief cream ingredients.
7. Turn to Alternative Treatments
If all the aforementioned tips on how to get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong seem to not work, the time must have come to turn to alternative medicine:
- Chiropractic care – It’s an alternative treatment for back and neck pain, which is based on manipulations (typically, massaging and stretching) with spine and joints.
- Acupuncture – This approach is based on needle penetration inside the muscles and stimulation of special points.
- Hydrotherapy – This method includes shower massaging and using the benefits of temperature (e.g. switching from hot water to cold and vice versa).
How to Avoid Neck Pain After Sleeping
With so many possible ways to relieve your neck pain, you can surely find something that works for you. But what if I say that you can avoid getting neck pain in the first place so that you wouldn’t have to learn how to deal with it?
- Exercise regularly – Whether it’s a morning stretching, midday yoga, evening jogging, or cycling on weekends, regular physical activity will help you keep your muscles toned. Thus, if you happen to sleep on your neck wrong, you will more likely wake up with no pain at all or with just a slight discomfort. With the latter, it will be enough for to do your traditional exercises, and the discomfort will go away.
“About only one adult American in five devotes to practicing physical activities enough time, according to the standards.”
- Control the temperature – The cooler the temperature in the room, the easier it is to fall asleep. And the warmer the room, the more restless your nights will be. However, if you leave the window open in order to stay cooler and drift off faster, you risk having your neck muscles stiffen up in the morning because of the cold air.
Quick note: The optimal temperature for sleeping is 65-70 °F.
So, don’t sleep with the bedroom windows open, and don’t use a fan either. Just set a thermostat somewhere at 65 °F and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
- Change your pillow –
- Watch your posture during the day –
Having neck pain is quite an unpleasant experience. And the worst part about it is that you never know for sure what the cause is. Unless you’ve visited a doctor.
Waking up with neck pain isn’t always about bad sleep. Of course, uncomfortable sleeping might have just made things worse, but the original reason may lie in your regular posture.
Are you working at the computer or dealing with papers all day long? If your workspace isn’t adjusted specifically for you, your correct posture will be ruined soon. And you will eventually feel pain and tension not only in your neck but also in shoulders and lower back.
Here’s a solution, though:
Take a break every hour or so, during which you will stand up, do some stretching, and walk (at least to the coffee point and back).
Also, get a new, comfortable office chair if it’s possible. If it’s not, at least try to adjust your current chair to fit your height. Learning to sit correctly may take some time. You should get rid of the habit of leaning over your desk or forward towards the screen.
Lots of people who suffer from pains after having slept on neck wrong don’t even suspect the reason for their pain might be their pillow. But it’s really possible.
In this case, all you will have to do is change your old pillow and choose a new pillow. You can find a few the best pillows for neck pain on this article written by John Breese.
Now, take a look at your current one. For how long have you been using it? Has it already sagged in the middle? Is it supportive enough? And the most interesting question:
Did you know that different sleep positions require different pillows?
If you’re a side sleeper, you need a thick and puffy pillow that will keep your head in its natural position during your sleep.
In this case, if you’re a back sleeper, a thinner pillow will do. It will help your neck relax aligned with your spine. Stomach sleepers need a thin and firm pillow that won’t force their head up.
When looking for the right pillow, you might come across a suggestion to throw your old one away and learn to sleep without pillows at all.
My advice is:
Don’t do that.
This might only work for stomach sleepers. People who prefer other positions won’t get any benefits and may even end up having more severe pain.
The thing is, pillows serve to maintain proper alignment of your posture during the night, keeping the pressure off your muscles and joints and helping your body relax completely.
Neck pain is annoying but manageable. As soon as you realize the cause, it will be much easier to get rid of it if it’s disturbing you right now and avoid having it in the future. You’re welcome to try the strategies mentioned above each by each or even combine two or three of them in order to get a better and quicker relief.