Yes, you can experience neck pain even when doing something so gentle as sleeping. Considering you aren’t doing anything else at the time, and you have ensured that your bed is a good fit for you, it must be the position that you are sleeping in, a.k.a. POSTURE. The good news is there is something that we can do about it.
The Supine Sleeper – the person who is lying on their back
A more ideal position for the head and neck
this is a great relaxing position for your body allowing gravity to help relax your spine down into the mattress
there is no compression on any particular body part
this is an easier position to maintain your neutral spine; in your neck
as your head is facing upwards, less facial wrinkles will appear
some people find this position uncomfortable when their legs are straight because of the pull that tight hip flexors exert on their back
if you are prone to snoring, this is a likely position for that to occur
try placing a pillow beneath your knees which lessens the pull from the hip flexors on the back and makes it easier to maintain a neutral spine
What to watch out for…
make sure you aren’t sleeping with your head and neck strained upwards too much
make sure your pillow is not so high that it is bringing your chin closer to your chest
make sure you aren’t sleeping with your head sitting too low so that your chin is lifting upwards.
The Side Sleeper
this is a very common sleeping position for most people
this position may lessen the chance of snoring
this is a more difficult position to maintain your lumbar neutral spine
for women with a greater hip:waist ratio (smaller waists), this position can cause too much curvature along the spine
as there is compression on one side of your face, more facial wrinkles may occur on this side
try a pillow between your knees to help bring them up to hip height which lessens any possible aches and pains
try placing a pillow or a rolled up towel beneath your waist crease to help create a neutral spine. This is especially important for women with our waists tending to be smaller than our hips
try using a body pillow. These are longer pillows so your top knee can rest on top to even out your lower body and your top arm can rest over it so shoulders and wrists may not become compressed
make sure your pillow is not so high that it is bringing your top ear closer to your shoulder
nor too low that your bottom ear is closer to the shoulder you are lying on. You want just enough pillow to fill in the space between your chin and your shoulder
The Dreaded Stomach Sleeper
some people just love to sleep on their stomachs and are most comfortable in this position
this bends your neck to one side which compresses everything on that side and may elongate tissues on the opposing side
maintaining your neutral spine in this position will be difficult and most often will cause compression to your lower spine
facial wrinkles may appear more on one side
try sewing or taping a tennis ball into the front of your t-shirt so when you want to roll onto your stomach the ball will wake you up
The Take Away Message
It is so important to get a good nights sleep, but waking up sore should make you wonder if there is something you can do. Most aches and pains in life can be traced back to our posture. This is good news because it gives us some power to make some changes.
Even though most of us do tend to toss and turn throughout the night, we aren’t really moving our entire bodies much.
Less movement = less blood flow to our muscles, bones and tissues = less input of nutritious substances and less removal of toxins = waking up stiff and sore
If our muscles are stronger and able to support us well and are flexible rather than knotted up with tension, we will wake up less sore, more stretchy and probably less grumpy, even before we have our first cup of coffee.
Try and work on the following:
Modify your sleep position the best you can
Remember to stretch the muscles that you know are tight and strengthen your core
Find out what posture type you have when wandering through your day to day activities so you can get some help on how to make more changes
Remember that making positive postural changes in your body can only lead to experiencing less aches and pains!