Healthy Sleep

How to Sleep with Neck Pain

Neck pains are often expected to just come and go – so people don’t pay much attention to it. But shrugging off the pain 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 really exhausted at day’s end.

The Causes of Neck Pain

The causes of neck pain fall on a wide spectrum. You can easily strain it from sitting down in front of the computer, lifting weights, or sleeping in the wrong position. Other causes are rather serious such as joint, disc, or muscle trauma from an accident.

It’s best to understand where your soreness is coming from, and then looking for pain relief that suits your condition comes next.

Sometimes the source of pain can be as simple as using the wrong pillow - thereby compromising spine alignment and blood circulation in the muscles.

What’s the Best Pillow for Neck Pain Sufferers?

Finding the best 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 for yourself.

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 neutral position - avoiding neck and 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 can do the job flawlessly for you. They’re made to study the contours of your neck and provide ample support to it.

Back-sleeper on 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.

Related Article: The Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

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.

The video below from a 7 News feature highlights how investing in a high-quality pillow could benefit you - especially if you suffer from neck pain.

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.