Tech neck is a poor posture when a person looks down or protrudes the neck forwards to browse or work on their phone, tablets or laptop. Usually tech neck is associated with prolonged use of devices without keeping the cervical spine in a neutral posture. It is also known as forward head posture, nerd neck or scholars neck. This is a commonly seen and it affects a majority of the population.
Apart from the pain and discomfort, tech neck can also cause sleep disturbances. When our cervical spine is not in a neutral position for prolonged periods of time, there is excessive strain on the neck muscles, ligaments and compressive forces on the bones and intervertebral discs of the cervical spine leading to degeneration of the cervical spine along with long term health complications such as neck pain, headaches, disc herniations, numbness or tingling in the arms and/or shoulder blade, etc. When all these above factors are combined with the common habit of using your phone while lying in bed, the blue light emitted causes disturbed sleep patterns or decreased quality of sleep.
Here are some easy tips to manage tech neck for better and improved sleep:
#1. Improving your sleep hygiene is a very important factor in improving your sleep. For this, use a proper pillow when sleeping to keep the cervical spine in neutral throughout the night. If you are a side sleeper the height of your pillow should be equal to the distance between your earlobe and the tip of your shoulder. If you are a back sleeper then use a pillow that covers the distance from the back of your head to your upper back. Usually a contour pillow will serve this purpose well.
#2. Keep the top of your screen 5 to 10 degree below the horizontal gaze, in order to keep the cervical spine in neutral. This is a postural corrections that is applicable to your laptop, computer monitors, phone, books, etc.
#3. Take regular posture breaks during your day, specially if you are in a desk bound job that requires you to work on a devise/computer, as these tend to accentuate tech neck posture. A posture break is a set of easy exercises that can be done in under 2 minutes to destress your whole spine and body.
#4. Get up and move! When we sit for longer than 20 minutes our spinal discs start to feel the pressure and are more prone to disc issues. When a tech neck is added to this situation it makes the chances of developing disc issues even higher.
#5. Exercises such as chin nods for postural correction can also be done on a regular basis throughout the day. It simply involves looking at a point on the wall directly in front of you and then bringing your gaze down by 5 to 10 degrees. This is the neutral position for the cervical spine that you need to maintain throughout the day. So do a chin nod every hour or whenever you can remember to do so.
#6. Usually a tech neck will cause rounding of the thoracic spine as a compensation to the new position of the neck. In this case you need to do exercises to overcome the muscular imbalances in the neck and chest area.
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