Most of us have probably woken up with a stiff neck at one point in our lives, but if this is a common occurrence, it pays to look into the causes and remedies. A stiff neck can cause a sudden sharp pain to shoot through you with every move, which can cause issues when you still have the day’s activities ahead of you to get through. If you suffer from neck pain and you find it usually happens when you wake, read on to find out what can be done about it.
Why Does it Happen When You Sleep?
First of all, it is a good idea to understand why neck pain is happening in the first place. During sleep, a stiff neck can develop if you sleep at an awkward angle or you make sudden movements. Sleeping at an awkward angle for hours on end can cause the muscles, joints, and ligaments to stretch beyond what they would normally be capable of. You may also cause pain by rolling over or other sudden movements you might make while you are dreaming. Additionally, if you have suffered an injury during the daytime, it can take a few hours for pain and stiffness to develop, and this usually happens in your sleep. Other causes to look into are cervical degenerative disease and facet joint osteoarthritis.
What Can You do to Alleviate Pain Upon Waking?
If you wake up with neck pain, you can use over the counter medication, heat or ice therapy, or a gentle massage. With a few ice packs ready in the freezer the night before, you can apply one to your neck for 10-20 minutes to reduce any swelling in the morning. Afterward, consider taking a warm shower to relax and loosen the muscles. If you need additional pain relief, try an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen. To ensure the pain isn’t long-lasting, you may also want to try giving yourself a gentle neck massage. You should find some relief with 1-2 days, but it is not uncommon for a stiff neck to last up to a week.
What Can You do to Alleviate Pain While Sleeping?
Of course, the best thing you can do for neck pain is to try to prevent it in the first place. You can do this by looking at the position you sleep in and see if it is possible to change it. For example, if you sleep on your stomach, you will be putting too much pressure on your spine because your head is in an unnatural position. For stomach sleepers, try switching to your back or side.
Another important factor to look into is what you are sleeping on. Both your mattress and pillow play important roles in how well you sleep, and how much support your body gets while you sleep. There are many different pillows you can try out, including memory foam, orthopedic, and wedge-shaped pillows, but it will take some trial and error to find the right one. Even more important is the mattress you sleep on. If your mattress has seen better days, it could well be the culprit, and once you replace it, you may find your neck pain completely disappears. If you are looking for the best eco-friendly mattress, make sure you check the description and reviews to ensure it meets your needs.
Other Factors to Consider
As well as your bed and sleeping position, it is important to look into anything else that may be contributing to your neck pain. For example, do you have your bedroom at a comfortable temperature? A lot of people who sleep with a fan on or near a window or vent report that they often wake up with a stiff neck. You might want to move your bed to a position where there are no drafts and check the thermostat. The optimum temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit. Also, if you tend to fall asleep in a chair or couch of an evening and then take yourself to bed, this can also cause you to wake with pain in your neck.
Is Neck Pain a Cause for Concern?
If you have tried everything to alleviate your pain and it is accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness in the arms, a severe headache, fever and/or unexplained weakness, it is important to seek the help of a medical professional immediately. As well as the conditions mentioned above, neck pain and stiffness can be a sign of meningitis, fibromyalgia, and rare infections such as tuberculosis.
Waking up with neck pain isn’t something you have to put up with. Look into what you can do today to you sleep better and wake up more refreshed!
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