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Always waking up in pain? These two factors are probably to blame.

| By Antonia Day | Wellness

Sore Neck after Sleeping? Here’s How to Fix It

Always waking up in pain? These two factors are probably to blame.

Waking up with a sore neck can be like waking up from a nightmare, except the nightmare is real, and it hurts, and doesn’t wear off for a few hours. But if you – like us – understand the struggle of waking up with a stiff or sore neck, there’s very good news: it’s easily preventable.

Because good sleep is essential to good health, it's important to nip pesky neck pain the bud. If you find yourself waking up with a sore neck and tight shoulders often, take a look around at your pillows, mattress and sleep position.

According to physical therapist Dr Gregory Minnis, “these factors [pillows and sleep positions] are controllable, which means by making some changes you may be able to alleviate your neck pain, and other types of pain, too.”

Below we look at the different factors that cause us to wake up with a sore neck, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Choice of Pillow

From using too many to not using enough, pillows often dictate how your neck feels when you wake up, and consequently, your posture. They come in different shapes, materials, and densities, so make sure you choose a pillow that caters to your sleeping style. “Avoid using a pillow that is too stiff or too deep. This can cause your neck muscles to be flexed overnight,” said Dr Minnis.


Back sleepers

Back sleepers should use a pillow which supports the space between your neck and bed. One way you can test if your pillow is right for you is by checking if you can see your feet while you’re lying down – if you can, the pillow is too high.


Side sleepers

For the majority of people who sleep on their side, a thick pillow that fills the space between your ear and the bed is recommended. If you feel like you need to relieve pressure from your lower back, place another pillow between your legs which “can help keep your neck aligned with your spine”.


Stomach sleepers

For those who sleep on their stomachs, it’s recommended you use a small, flat pillow which keeps your head level and even. This will ensure your spine remains aligned through the night.

Sleeping Position

Similar to your choice of pillow, the position you sleep in dictates how your neck feels the following day. To figure out which position you sleep in the most, pay attention to the position you wake up in, as this is most likely the position your body is in for the duration of the evening.

It's also import to factor in the density of the surface you sleep on each night. “If your mattress is sagging in the middle, consider replacing it with a medium-firm mattress that can support your back and neck,” said Dr Minnis.


Back sleepers

Sleeping on your back is the best position to sleep in if you want to improve your posture and reduce neck pain in the morning. If you experience back pain, sleeping in this position is the best for relieving pressure on the spine.


Side sleepers

For those who sleep on their side, you're most at risk of neck pain, so take note. Try to keep your knees together so you don’t put any additional pressure on your back or hips. Keep hips, knees and ankle in alignment to encourage a straight spine throughout the night, and you should enjoy more ease through your neck upon waking.


Stomach sleepers

If you sleep on your stomach, try to keep your ears, hips, and shoulders aligned as you sleep. This will ensure you don’t cause any harm to your spine. If you wiggle around during the night, you ideally want to keep your spine aligned – a tough ask when you're in a sleep haze, but you're up for the challenge!

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualised health advice. If you are concerned about your health and well-being, please speak to your GP, who will advise on the correct treatment plan.

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