If you suffer from neck pain you might be conscious of your sitting posture while you are at work or while doing home chores or driving. But you also need to consider your posture when sleeping to avoid positions that can cause or aggravate neck pain.
In this blog we will discuss the 2 worst sleeping positions if you suffer from neck pain followed by 2 tips on how to avoid them.
The first sleeping posture that can cause or aggravate neck pain is sleeping on your stomach. When you sleep on your tummy your neck will be turned to one side or the other. This can cause a lot of stress on your neck muscles, cervical spine, ligaments, etc. These stresses will gradually build up for the six or eight hours that you are asleep. In order to avoid this try and make a gradual transition to sleeping on your side and then (if you wish to) sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your stomach can also lead to back pain. You can read more about it HERE.
A simple tip to avoid sleeping on the stomach is to start off sleeping on your side at night and keeping a stack of pillows or a thick bolster in front of your body to avoid rolling on to your stomach in the night. Once you master this side lying position you can then gradually transition to sleeping on your back by keeping pillows on either side of your body when lying on your back. These pillows will prevent you from rolling on to your side and stomach. It is not easy to transition out of tummy sleeping to side lying or back sleeping as this is your ‘comfortable’ position. But try and do this gradually taking baby steps every day. Do not expect it to happen in a matter of day. It may take weeks or months, but is well worth it.
The second sleeping posture that can cause or aggravate neck is keeping your hand or arm under your head when you're sleeping. This causes a strain on your scapular, arm, forearm, neck muscles and ligaments along with your spine (neck and midback). If you are a side sleeper this usually happens when you use a very thin pillow or do not use a pillow at all. Ideally when you sleep on your side the height of the pillow should be equal to the distance between your earlobe and the tip of your shoulder. If it is thicker then your head will be tilted away from the pillow. If your pillow is thinner then your neck will be tilted towards the pillow. This can lead to tucking your arm or hand under the head to support your neck into a neutral position i.e. a good posture.
Watch this video to learn more about how these two sleeping postures can lead to or aggravate your existing neck pain:
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