- Neck pain can be remedied with the right pillow .
- Belly sleepers are more likely to experience neck pain .
- A study shows: sleep problems go hand in hand with chronic pain
Morning neck pain can ruin your day before it has actually started. If the cervical spine is not positioned correctly during sleep, it may be quite painful. Prevention is especially valuable for a healthy shoulder and neck area – this is easy to implement.
Neck pain occurs due to various reasons – e.g. due to age-related attrition or arthritis, or as a result of accidental injuries. However, there are many possible triggers which are easier to avoid. If the neck repeatedly causes problems, especially in the early morning, it is worth taking a closer look at a few factors that can be countered with simple adjustments.
The right pillow for prevention
First of all, check if the head is resting orthopedically correct. Often, the culprit is a supposedly cuddly friend which is supposed to make the night’s sleep more pleasant – the pillow. However, a good pillow is not meant to be cuddled. Rather, its important function is to bed the head in a healthy, neutral position. The nose should be in line with the centre of the body or the spine. If the pillow is too high, head and neck are bent upwards. If it is too flat, head and neck are bent downwards. Depending on the sleeping position, a different pillow model is advisable. For example, the back sleeper needs a head padding that supports the natural curvature of the neck. Speaking of sleeping position: this alone can cause pain in the neck area. For example, if you sleep lying on your stomach, your head and neck are turned unnaturally to the side, and this can result in high pressure on the nerves. It is more advisable to sleep on your back or on your side. Getting used to a more gentle position can of course be difficult, but, as a soothing measure, it is definitely worth trying.
When do I need to see a doctor?
A doctor should be consulted if repeated morning neck pain is not due to the pillow or the sleeping position. Chronic conditions such as arthritis could possibly be at the bottom of the pain. Especially if other symptoms appear, such as a tingling sensation or a sensation of cold in the arm, or if the pain persists for several weeks, then medical examination is urgently required. If the health expert excludes any underlying causes, then a physiotherapist can help to stretch and strengthen the neck muscles by doing simple exercises. With consistent exercise, a better and easier attitude towards life can be achieved – with consequently, a better sleep.
A vicious cycle of sleep disorder and pain
Research findings suggest that sleep quality can, in itself, cause musculoskeletal pain. A survey with over 4,000 participants found that people who had problems falling asleep or staying asleep, suffered from chronic pain significantly more frequently a year later than those who had slept well throughout. A possible explanation for this would be that sleep interruptions interfere with the muscle relaxation and self-healing powers that usually work during sleep.
A vicious cycle of pain and sleep disorders is not uncommon: poor sleep can make relaxation of the neck muscles more difficult, which makes them tear more easily. It’s precisely these small cracks, which fortunately usually heal quickly and by themselves, that cause the perceived pain. The mental balance in this context should also not be neglected: sleep difficulties, or internal tensions, which can also manifest themselves physically, sometimes have an impact on the neck, and in turn worsen your sleep. Relaxation techniques and other forms of healthy stress relief can help to reduce or eliminate bruxism. In addition, a good sleep hygiene with regular sleeping and waking times and sufficient exercise is recommended to significantly improve sleep and therefore self-regeneration.
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