Two in three of us suffer from neck pain. Neck pain from sleeping is a common problem in most people as your neck can be put in a lot of different positions during your sleep. We sleep for 6 to 8 hours at a time and therefore your neck can be placed in various positions for a long time.
This can cause injury to the muscles and ligaments. Sometimes we sleep on our stomach and the neck may be twisted to one side for hours. All these can cause strain in your neck muscles that makes it feel sore and stiff when you wake up in the morning.
If there is a problem in the neck there is usually an associated pain, pins and needles and numbness beyond the shoulder radiating to the arm and fingers.
What causes neck pain when you wake up?
There are many causes that can cause neck pain and stiffness. Your sleeping position gets your neck to be in a twisted and abnormal position. Sudden movement of your neck during sleep while tossing and turning can create injury of the muscles, ligaments and tissues of the neck. Any previous injury like a whiplash or sports injuries may not cause pain at first but after a few days.
Why can’t I move my neck to one side after I wake up?
Your neck can get stuck with your head twisted and locked to one side. The medical term for this is “torticollis” The stretch injury to the muscles and ligaments can cause the neck to go into a locking position due to the muscle spasm. It is very painful to move the muscles when they are in spasm but it settles within a few days.
Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?
If you have the habit of sleeping on your stomach, using as pillow will put your neck and spine in an unnatural position. It adds to the stress to the neck and sleeping without a pillow helps keep your head flat. But if you sleep on your back or the side, sleeping without a pillow can aggravate the pain as the spine is not kept in a neutral position.
How long does the neck pain last from sleeping wrong?
In most cases the neck pain is due to the use of too many pillows. The pillow may be too firm, too low or too high. This stretch of the muscles and ligaments causes strain and stiffening of those ligaments and muscles. Normally, this is self-limiting and settles between 3 to 5 days.
How can you loosen up your neck muscles?
There are simple ways to do this. Gentle massage, applying heat or ice packs, medications like paracetamol or neurofen and gentles stretching exercises for stiff neck. Simple stretches help and by moving your head slowly as shown in these exercises the spasm and stiffness of the neck can be improved.