When it comes to neck pain while sleeping, it seems like a logical conclusion to assume it’s as a result of something you’re doing while you’re asleep. And while that is true, being in control of your posture while you’re asleep can be easier said than done. In most cases, it’s hard enough to do the right thing while you’re awake let alone when you’re sleeping. So for that reason, although it may seem counter intuitive, it’s best to focus on your posture and correcting that while you’re awake in order to see the benefits while you’re asleep. We’ll go through some tips on what you can do while you’re sleeping later in the article, but we’ll also be focusing on what you can do during the day.

So when you’re going through your usual day, how good is your posture? Are there things on a daily basis you could be doing that are causing more harm than good? From bending forward to put your socks or shoes on first thing in the morning, gazing down at your phone while you’re eating your breakfast, doing the same on the tube or on your daily commute, slouching at the office or at home etc. All of these things done regularly can really affect your neck health during the day, let alone at night if you’re not aware of your posture. Making a conscious effort to identify what exactly you’re doing on a daily basis, and to check in with your posture throughout the day. It can be as simple as setting a reminder on your phone to just make sure that you’re regularly spending just a couple of seconds to identify if your posture is correct, and if it’s not to correct it.

Correct Posture When You’re Not Sleeping

One of the biggest culprits we find for bad posture is sitting at your desk for 8, 9 or even 10 hours a day. Making sure that you’re sitting with both feet on the ground, with your shoulders back and neck in a neutral position above your shoulders. Your head should not be leaning forward, neither should your shoulders to lean on the desk as this is when you tend to hunch over. In order for your head to stay square to your neck and neutral, you may find that you will need to adjust your desk environment to suit your posture. This could mean moving your computer or laptop to a higher position using books. When looking at your phone, invest in a very small device called a ‘pop-socket’ which attaches onto the back of your phone and means you can hold it much more comfortably in front of your face, rather than looking down at the screen. Addressing these things regularly during the day will take time as you will need to regain the strength in your back, shoulders and core in order to hold yourself comfortably for long periods of time during the day.

Correct Sleeping Posture

The number one piece of advice we’d give to people looking to correct the way they’re sleeping is to avoid using multiple pillows. You want to make sure that you’re using just one pillow that fits correctly above your shoulder to keep your head level and square to your shoulders. Some people can be tempted to use 3 or more pillows but this props the head up too much, puts a flexion in your neck and essentially squashes the discs in your neck. If you find it difficult to get comfortable with just one pillow, or you haven’t found the right pillow to support your neck, it might be worth trying a Tempur pillow with the swoop that fits right in the nape of the neck. This allows you if you sleep on your back to be in a more natural position – and will go a long way to help your disc spaces to rehydrate during the day which is helpful. However, a lot of people don’t sleep on their back, it would be helpful to at least lie in bed in that position to start with.

If you’re sleeping on your side, again make sure that you’ve got a pillow that supports your neck up enough that you’re not tilting it to one side or the other. This is quite an important step, as if you’re sleeping with your neck crooked it may be no wonder that you wake up with neck pain or stiffness. Sleep square, and get a pillow to fill this shoulder gap. The next important step is to look straight, rather than looking down with your neck almost in a ball. This would do exactly the same thing as sleeping on your back with too many pillows, it pushes the neck forward. Making these changes will have a big impact on the degree of discomfort you get in the night, but chances are if you’re sleeping badly you’re probably also doing things in the day that are not beneficial for your spine.

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Importance of Correcting Posture

It’s worthwhile watching some of our other videos on correcting your posture to get a little more help and advice on how you should be sleeping. If your neck pain has been existing for an extended period of time, the pain can be related to deeper inflammation, an issue with the discs in the neck, or an element of arthritic changes in the neck. So if it’s a problem that has been existing for more than a few weeks, it’s definitely worth seeing a specialist who can tell you exactly what’s going on in your spine, and get your neck evaluated properly. If you’re based in the London area, our initial consultation at The Mayfair Clinic involves an examination, X-rays should you need them, a treatment on the first visit as well as your results and any relevant radiology reports. To book in, call our team on 0203 947 3222 or email us at info@themayfairclinic.com to arrange your appointment. If you’re based elsewhere, we advise that you look at our approach and try to find someone who does things similarly as it’s a thorough process and one that works.