How to Relieve Neck Pain From Sleeping?

by Jason Berke יולי 05, 2024

relieve neck pain

Are you tired of waking up with a neck that feels like it's been through a wrestling match overnight? You're not alone! Neck pain from sleeping is a common complaint, but fear not—relief is within reach.

In this blog post, we're diving headfirst into the world of sleep-related neck pain and sharing our best pillow for neck pain along with tricks for banishing those morning cricks and knots. Whether you're a side, back, or stomach sprawler, we've got tailored advice to help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

How Neck Stiffness Develops During Sleep

From the moment we drift off to sleep to the subtle movements we make throughout the night, our necks are subjected to a myriad of factors that can contribute to stiffness and discomfort come morning. Neck stiffness could be due to a number of factors:

  1. Awkward Angles

    Many people unwittingly contort into positions as they sleep, putting undue strain on their neck muscles and joints. Whether it's propping ourselves up with too many pillows or twisting our heads at odd angles, these seemingly innocuous habits can wreak havoc on our necks over time.

  2. Abrupt Movements

    Sudden roll or dream reaction got your neck in a twist? It happens. Swift neck movements can strain or sprain delicate neck tissues during sleep. This strain often results in stiffness and discomfort upon waking up. Additionally, incorrect sleeping positions such as sleeping on the stomach with the head turned to the side can further stress the neck muscles and ligaments.

  3. Wrong Pillow

    It's crucial to choose pillows that support your head and neck adequately to maintain a neutral spine alignment during sleep. Options such as feather pillows conform gently to the shape of your head and neck, providing a soft yet supportive cushioning that helps reduce strain. Memory foam pillows, known for their contouring ability, offer personalized support by molding to the curves of your neck and head.

  4. Pre-existing Injury

    A preexisting injury can significantly influence nocturnal discomfort, especially injuries sustained during waking hours such as whiplash. The impact of such injuries may not immediately manifest as pain or stiffness but can become more pronounced several hours later, particularly during sleep. Managing preexisting injuries requires careful consideration of sleep posture, supportive pillows, and possibly medical intervention to alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

  5. Other causes of neck pain when you wake up

    Sometimes, your neck pain doesn't just magically appear overnight. A stiff neck can start brewing during the day as well. Look out for these usual suspects:

    • Poor Posture: Slouching or straining your neck during the day can set the stage for nighttime discomfort.
    • Sedentary Habits: Spending too much time glued to a screen or in one position without breaks can leave your neck feeling less than stellar.
    • Osteoarthritis: When one of your upper spinal joints is affected by osteoarthritis, it can lead to persistent neck pain, even while you're catching Z's.
    • Nerve Niggles: A herniated disk or bone spur in your neck can put pressure on nerves, causing pain that lingers into the morning.

What is the worst sleeping position for neck pain?

Recent research sheds light on the impact of different sleeping positions on neck health:

  • Stomach Sleepers: According to a small study, individuals who sleep on their stomachs are more likely to experience neck pain and stiffness compared to side or back sleepers.

    Sleeping face-down requires you to twist your head to the side, preventing your neck from maintaining a neutral position. This prolonged angled stance can lead to discomfort and stiffness.

    Stomach sleeping can also throw off your body's alignment, increasing pressure on the neck and exacerbating strain.

  • Expert Advice: Fortunately, you can retrain your body for a more neck-friendly slumber. Use strategically placed large pillows to encourage side or back sleeping and discourage stomach snoozing. This can help you maintain a healthier sleep position and alleviate neck strain.

    It's generally recommended to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you experience neck pain and instead opt for sleeping on your back or side, with proper support for your head and neck.

How to Relieve Neck Pain From Sleeping?

If you've ever experienced the frustration of waking up with a stiff and sore neck after a night's sleep, you know how disruptive neck pain can be to your daily life. Whether it's caused by poor sleep posture, an uncomfortable pillow, or an underlying issue, finding relief becomes a top priority. Here are some tips to ease the discomfort and restore mobility:

A) Ice or Heat Therapy

Apply ice promptly after a neck strain to reduce swelling. Aim for 10 to 20 minutes at a time for optimal relief. You can also indulge in a warm shower or snuggle up with a heating pad. Heat therapy relaxes muscles, easing pain, and enhancing flexibility.

B) Over-the-Counter Relief

For stubborn stiffness, over-the-counter meds may come to the rescue. If pain and stiffness hinder your movement, consider over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen for some much-needed relief.

C) Gentle Soothing Techniques

Once you've got some initial relief, it's time to ease into some gentle TLC. Try some gentle stretching to loosen tight muscles and ligaments. Start slow and listen to your body – even incomplete stretches can make a difference.

D) Self-Massage

Give your neck some care and relief by incorporating a soothing self-massage into your routine. Using gentle pressure, let your hands and fingers target sore spots and tense muscles. Begin by applying circular motions or light kneading to the areas that feel tight or uncomfortable. This technique helps increase blood flow to the muscles, promoting relaxation and easing stiffness.

When to See a Doctor

Neck pain frequently resolves without medical intervention. However, if your discomfort persists after a few days of self-care or worsens, seeking medical attention is advisable to identify the underlying cause.

It's crucial to contact your doctor promptly if you experience neck pain accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • A lump in your neck
  • Swollen glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness or tingling in your limbs
  • Pain radiating down your arms or legs
  • Bladder or bowel problems

Prompt medical evaluation is essential to address any potential underlying issues and ensure appropriate treatment.

How to Prevent a Stiff Neck While Sleeping

While not all neck stiffness can be avoided, here are some steps to minimize the risk:

pillow for neck pain

  1. Mind Your Sleeping Position

    Stomach sleeping can strain the cervical spine, so try to opt for back or side sleeping whenever possible. Some may find reclined positions, like those in reclining mattresses or chairs, more neck-friendly as well.

  2. Temperature Control

    Keep your sleep environment cozy, as cool air blowing directly on the neck can lead to stiffness for some. Although not extensively studied, adjusting your surroundings to avoid direct drafts may help.

  3. Mattress Matters

    Ensure your mattress provides adequate firmness to support your spine during sleep. And try to avoid snoozing in less-than-ideal spots, like chairs or couches, as they can up the chances of waking up with a stiff neck.

  4. Find the Perfect Pillow

    Just like sleep position, finding the right pillow is key. Back sleepers might benefit from a rolled towel or cervical pillow for added support. Using pillows designed for individuals with neck pain or discomfort can often alleviate symptoms and improve sleep quality. Feather or memory foam pillows are recommended by the American Sleep Association for their excellent neck support.

Importance of Using the Right Pillow

A 2019 study revealed that using a viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam pillow, particularly during chiropractic treatment, was more effective in reducing neck pain than chiropractic treatment alone.

Cervical pillows, with their specialized design, help reduce neck strain and pain. It's essential for individuals with neck pain to select thin, low-profile pillows that don't elevate the head excessively.

Considerations for choosing the right pillow vary based on sleeping position:

  • Back Sleepers

    Opt for a thin pillow that supports the natural curve of the neck. Ensure the pillow doesn't tilt the head forward but allows for relaxation of the head and neck. Adjustable pillows are also particularly beneficial because they offer versatility in height and firmness.

  • Side Sleepers

    Choose a thicker pillow to maintain proper alignment of the head and neck. Avoid pillows that tilt the head up or down. By choosing a side sleeper pillow that promotes proper spinal alignment and avoids tilting the head, you can significantly reduce the risk of waking up with neck pain and stiffness, promoting a more comfortable and restorative sleep experience overall.

  • Stomach Sleepers

    Consider using an ultra-slim pillow or no pillow at all to minimize stress on the cervical spine. Consider incorporating an ultra-slim pillow or even opting to sleep without a pillow altogether to reduce stress on your cervical spine. An ultra-slim pillow provides minimal elevation, which can help maintain a more natural alignment of the neck and spine while you sleep.

Introducing the Wife Pillow, a fully adjustable and innovative solution to your sleep and neck pain issues. Not only does the Wife Pillow offer targeted relief for neck pain with its plush yet supportive design, but it also allows you to customize your comfort level with ease. By adding or removing stuffing and incorporating inserts and toppers, you can tailor the pillow to your specific preferences, ensuring a truly personalized sleep experience.


Neck pain affects approximately 20–70% of individuals in the United States at some point in their lives. This discomfort can significantly diminish sleep quality and lead to various adverse health effects.

For those experiencing neck pain, using a pillow designed to provide adequate neck support can be beneficial. The Wife Pillow is tailored to alleviate neck pain and reduce associated symptoms. If you're tired of waking up with a stiff and achy neck, upgrade to the Wife Pillow and take control of your sleep health.

If neck pain is severe, persistent, unexplained, or interferes with daily activities or sleep, it's essential to consult a doctor. Additionally, seeking medical attention is crucial if the pain persists for more than a week or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. You can also explore our amazon store of wife pillow.

Jason Berke
Jason Berke