Tips For Better Sleep

How to Sleep with Neck Pain

May 8, 2023   By Clarisa Mcdonald

Neck pains are often expected to just come and go – so people don’t pay much attention to it.

But shrugging off that neck strain may actually be one of the reasons why it’s still hurting in the first place. Look, it’s the last thing you want when you’re exhausted at the day’s end. You wouldn’t want to compromise the sleep quality you deserve after a busy day.

Serious Causes of Neck Pain

The causes of neck pain fall on a wide spectrum.

Some causes are rather serious such as joint, disc, or muscle trauma from an accident. Serious causes such as this obviously require a healthcare professional.

While this article won’t tackle solutions for chronic pain, trust your physical therapist who know what’s best. It’s about cooperating during those regular physical therapy sessions that will be recommended to you.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Now the neck can be easily strained from sitting down with poor posture in front of the computer, lifting weights, or sleeping with a wrong sleep posture for long periods.

The source of neck stiffness can also be as simple as using the wrong pillow – thereby compromising spine alignment and blood circulation in the muscles.

As soon as you understand where that soreness is coming from first, you can then look for pain relief solutions that will suit your condition second.

What’s the Best Pillow for Neck Pain Sufferers?

Finding the right pillow involves taking into account its firmness level and height. Besides this, your preferred sleeping position helps determine the potential pain points so you can avoid creating sleep problems with those neck muscles.

For Back Sleepers

The general rule is that your pillow has to mimic the natural curve of your neck as if you’re standing up with a good posture. The neck, after all, is part of the cervical spine.

For best results, pair a medium-firm thick memory foam pillow with a firm mattress so the neck is aligned with the head and your back won’t sink in.

Sleeping on your back may prove difficult for people with soft mattresses as the body will sink and put the spine in an unnatural and curved position. If you do have a soft mattress, a thin pillow should work to balance the sinking and keep the back in a neutral position – avoiding neck, lower back and upper back pain altogether.

Some people suggest rolling a towel, sliding it underneath your neck and inside the pillowcase for additional cushioning and support.

If you’re looking to invest in sleep health, ergonomic memory foam pillows or cervical pillows can do the job flawlessly for you. They’re made to study the contours of your neck and provide ample support to it for a pain-free slumber.

back sleeper's spine position on Ecosa pillow

A back sleeper’s spine position on the Ecosa pillow

For Side Sleepers

Side sleeping hits more pressure points than any other sleeping position – the ears, shoulders, elbows, hips, thighs, legs, and even the heel. If you sleep on your side and get a sore neck, it can be because of your neck and shoulder position combined. In fact, a considerable number of side sleepers who experience neck pain also experience shoulder pain.

Again, as a general rule, the head and neck need to be kept in between the shoulders to keep the spine elongated in a neutral position. This, in turn, keeps the air passages open while sleeping. But your arm and shoulders should never sit directly underneath your body. This literally puts the weight on your shoulders and can impede blood circulation leading to pain.

For the best neck support, side-sleepers need thicker pillows than do back-sleepers.

The broadness of your shoulders is a good indicator for pillow thickness. If you have broad shoulders, you’d want a thicker pillow than a person with narrow shoulders.

The Ecosa pillow, for example, works for all shoulder widths because it has a higher and lower side to it. If you want extra elevation, it also comes with two pads that can be used to adjust the height of the pillow, helping ensure you’re free from any stiff neck!

The Goal is to Follow the Natural Curve of Your Neck

Maintain your spine’s neutral position AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Healthy sleeping habits can make or break a good night’s sleep – and your neck too.

For neck pain that persists, accompanied by high fever or numbing/tingling in the arms and legs, please seek medical advice immediately.

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