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Neck pain could have a variety of reasons: Stress bad posture, stress and texting injuries from activities, automobile or other accidents , and chronic diseases like fibromyalgia, just to mention some. However, there’s a third factor that you might not have thought of the way you sleep.
“Generally If you awake suffering from neck discomfort, it’s because your pillow isn’t suited to your needs or the way that you sleep in can be causing neck pain and/or both of them,” said sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern Cal’s Keck School of Medicine.
Experts advise picking a pillow that will support the natural curve of your neck which may differ to the pillow you use with your partner in bed.
“Sleeping is a personal encounter,” stated Colleen Louw who is who is a certified spinal and therapeutic pain specialist as well as representative for the American Physical Therapy Association, in an email.
“Working with physical therapists will help you identify the causes of painful exacerbations and which positions or strategies could lead to more restful night’s sleep.” Louw said.
The position of your pillow can affect the choice of a pillow.
In general sleep on either your back or side is the best to prevent neck or back discomfort, according to experts because both positions assist to keep the natural curves of your spine.
Back is the best option: The best way to sleep is to lie on your back with a pillow which allows your neck to be placed so that you’re facing straight up at your ceiling. explained.
“If the pillow isn’t fluffy enough or large, then you’ll be able to move your head, which can create some problems,” he said. “Stand on a wall and place the pillow on top of your head. Are you still looking straight? It’s not a good idea to be staring at the ceiling, or looking down. You should be parallel towards the wall. The pillow should lead to less neck pain.”
Back sleepers should try to sleep with their hands on their side. A study from 2017 found that placing one hand over the head substantially affected a person’s neck as well as shoulder discomfort.
“If you lie on your back and you have a back, consider with a firm pillow or a bolster on your knees” Louw added. “This will help to keep blood circulation moving to prevent back pain in the event that your knees are flexed during rest.”
Sleepers on the side: Sleeping on your side is okay provided you maintain your neck and head straight with your body. In order to do this you’ll require the proper pillow.
A study conducted in 2010 on side sleepers revealed that those who were sleeping on pillows made of feathers were more likely to wake up than those who sleep on latex pillows, thereby damaging their sleep. Dasgupta recommends that side sleepers use pillows that are firm to support the neck during sleep.
“If you’re a sleeper on your side it’s possible that a pillow with a firmer feel could harm your neck but it’s usually the pillow that is too soft that causes you to awake with neck pain,” Dasgupta said. “There’s always an opening between the head of your bed and your mattress, and your pillow should be used as an extra cushion.”
The use of pillows in addition to your bed can help keep the hips, shoulders, head and knees on the same level, Louw said.
“(Use) cushions between knees and at times, on your belly or chest to help rest your arm.” she advised, “(to) prevent your shoulders from rolling forward that could cause your neck to turn even while you sleep. The goal is to maintain blood flow through your joints and your nerves , which will help prevent the pain.”
No bellyflops: “The one position that we don’t recommend is lying in your stomachs,” Dasgupta said.
When you sleep on your stomach, it forces your neck to lean on one side for a long duration of time. It also forces the lower back to sag towards the back due to gravity, which leads in neck as well as back pain.
Sleepers who lie on their stomachs must do their best to shift towards sleeping with their side or back according to experts. Use a cervical pillow, which is specifically designed to hold your neck in position. Put the firm pillows, folded up blankets or bath towels, or a body pillow to the opposite the side to prevent you from falling onto your stomach when you your sleep.
How to deal with neck discomfort in the neck?
What’s the most effective course of procedure if you awake with neck discomfort?
Ice and heat:Try taking a very warm shower to relax and loosen your neck muscles. This will ease discomfort and increase your motion range, Dasgupta said. Try the ice pack, or alternate between heating pads and Ice.
“The principal thing to remember is to not use each for longer than fifteen minutes at one time,” Louw said. “But they can be used at any time.”
Massage manipulating the muscles as well as muscles in the neck may increase blood flow and ease tension in muscles, Dasgupta stated. Test different massage techniques until you can find one that suits you.
Stretch and move:While you should avoid intense activities and limit movement that cause the pain, “walking and moving around is still recommended, as the full-time bed rest can result in stiff necks and back discomfort to last more time,” Dasgupta said.
Do you have to stretch? If yes, make sure to make sure you do it gently to avoid making things more difficult. There are, however, more effective methods, Louw said.
“Gradual and paced, active movement is more effective to reduce the pain and stiffness than stretching when instructed by a medical expert or physical therapist,” she added.
Research has shown that exercise can reduce neck pain caused by sleep more effectively than other non-invasive treatments like yoga, massage, acupuncture or relaxation methods. A study in 2020 found that sleeping and mood improved for people suffering from constant neck discomfort increased workout levels.
“If the stiffness and pain are severe enough to restrict movement, you should consider using acetaminophen or Ibuprofen at the dosage recommended by your doctor. Consult your doctor to determine whether you should stay away from any of these drugs,” Dasgupta said.
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