For most people, a stiff neck can be inconvenient and even painful but not considered life-threatening. The soft tissues can become injured or tense and the joints inflamed, leading to stiffness. A sore, stiff neck — particularly on waking, can signal poor posture and sleeping position, the wrong pillow, osteoarthritis (wear and turn), or even stress.

Tweed Coast Chiropractic explores how sleeping habits could be potentially contributing to your neck and spinal health and what you can do to alleviate pain:

Good quality sleep is so important for our overall health, mood, memory, concentration and quality of life. Many people overlook the importance of sleep and the impact that their sleeping position and choice of pillow can have on their neck and spinal health.

We spend a third of our lives asleep or resting, so it’s important to choose a sleep position that assists your body with physical recovery. A proper sleep position can relieve stress on your neck and spine, while an unhealthy position can increase pain or stiffness in the back, arms, or shoulders, all while contributing to lower-quality sleep.

The Impact of Sleeping Positions

The position in which you sleep can significantly impact your neck and spine. The ideal sleeping position promotes healthy spine alignment from your head to your hips. Sleeping with improper neck support or with arms and legs and shoulders at an awkward angle can also contribute to neck and back pain. The key is to find a sleeping position that maintains the natural curve of your neck and spine.

Stomach Sleeping

The stomach position provides the least back support of all sleeping positions and increases pressure on the spine, sometimes causing pain upon waking up. Sleeping on your stomach can force your neck to be turned to one side for an extended period, leading to strain on the vertebrae in your neck and discomfort. A good example, while reading this, turn your head to the right and gently push your left cheek with your left hand, this extra force is exerted for extended periods of time, even hours when you sleep on your front.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping may reduce snoring and heartburn and help with back pain, particularly when paired with a supportive pillow. Side sleeping is also a preferred position when pregnant, as it relieves the pressure of a growing belly, enabling the heart to pump and blood to flow easily throughout the body.

Back Sleeping

Sleeping on your back is probably better for neck pain and nasal congestion. When you’re flat on your back, it’s easier to keep your spine in alignment and to evenly distribute your body weight, preventing any potential aches in the neck or back. Sleeping on the back can also relieve the congestion of a stuffy nose.

The Role of Pillows

Your choice of pillow can also play a crucial role in determining the health of your neck. Pillows that are too high or too flat can cause the neck to be bent at an unnatural angle, resulting in stiffness and soreness. It’s essential to use a pillow that provides the right support for your head and neck, keeping them in alignment with the rest of your body. We sell contoured fully adjustable memory foam pillows to enable an individualised supportive nights sleep.

The Importance of Mattress Support

In addition to pillows, the support provided by your mattress is equally important. A mattress that is too soft can allow your body to sink, causing an abnormal curvature of the spine and neck. On the other hand, a mattress that is too firm may not provide enough give to accommodate your body’s natural contours. Finding a mattress that offers the right balance of support and comfort is essential for maintaining good neck health and even spinal alignment.

Tips for Better Sleep

To improve your sleeping habits and reduce the risk of neck and back pain, consider the following tips:

  • Experiment with different sleeping positions to find the one that works best for your neck.
  • Invest in a quality pillow that provides appropriate support for your head and neck.
  • Evaluate your mattress and consider upgrading to one that offers better support for your body’s natural alignment. Particularly if it’s over 10 years old.
  • Implement good sleep hygiene, which involves practising healthy habits and behaviours that can encourage a good night’s sleep. These include following a consistent bedtime routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment.

There’s nothing worse than waking up to neck pain and stiffness after a night of sleep but the truth is that your sleeping habits can significantly impact your neck’s health.

Paying attention to your sleeping position, pillow choice and mattress support allows you to take proactive steps to alleviate neck and back pain and improve your overall sleep quality. Remember, a few simple adjustments can go a long way in promoting better neck and spinal health.

The best sleep position for you is whichever sleep position enables you to enjoy a restful night of uninterrupted sleep and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, without any aches and pains. If that describes your current sleep position, don’t feel forced to change it. If you think a new position might make sleep more comfortable for you, though, go ahead and try another position.

Do you have questions about how your sleeping positions, habits and behaviours could be contributing to your neck pain? Contact Tweed Coast Chiropractic for more tips.