You wake up with mild soreness on one side of your neck, and when you try to turn your head to the opposite side – Yowch! You experience a sharp jolt of pain.
It happened again. You “slept wrong” and now you’ll have to pay for it. You know you’ll be rubbing your aching neck all day long. How miserable!
Waking up with neck pain is very common and easy to prevent. Here’s what you can do to wake up feeling rested and pain free.
- Stay hydrated.
The discs between your vertebrae consist mostly of water. When you’re dehydrated, they may be less flexible and prone to cramping. Drink plenty of water each day. If you find it hard to stick to staying hydrated, start carrying around a water bottle or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water every two hours. If you do not like the taste of water, diluted juice or fruit infusions can help you stay hydrated.
- Sleep on your back.
Laying flat on your back keeps your entire spine level. Laying on your stomach is the worst position for your neck, as you have to turn your head at an awkward angle to breathe.
Sleeping on your side is better than sleeping on your stomach, but it can still contribute to neck pain if your head is not properly supported.
- Get the right pillow.
If your pillow is overstuffed or too flat, your neck will be in an awkward position all night. Test out different pillows until you find one that supports your head and neck in a neutral position.
A contoured pillow has a dip in the middle to keep your head level with your spine, while the raised edge supports your neck. You may also want to experiment with a rolled-up towel to find your perfect level of support.
Some people sleep best on feather pillows, while others prefer memory foam. Try a few different kinds and see what feels best to you. Remember to replace your pillow once a year or whenever it starts to flatten.
- Close the window.
When the weather is warm, you might leave a window open overnight to combat stuffiness and overheating. However, the temperature often drops in the night, bringing in a cold breeze that can cause your neck muscles to cramp and stiffen.
Fans and air conditioning can also contribute to neck pain. If you feel hot at night, make sure your cool airflow does not hit your neck directly.
- See your chiropractor.
While occasional neck pain is not unusual, it can make it difficult for you to comfortably work and enjoy your life. If your neck pain persists for more than two days, is unusually severe, or recurs often, a chiropractor can help your sore neck muscles relax, and work with you to prevent pain in the future.