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How to Sleep with Neck Pain

by Dr Brent Wells DC(more info)

listed in back pain, originally published in issue 292 - February 2024


Originally Published at: 


At one time or another, everyone will wake up with neck pain. The first thing most people say is “I must have slept on it wrong” and this could very well be the case. 

However, if you find yourself waking up most morning with neck pain or if neck pain appears to be a consistent problem, the source of your pain will need to be found so it can be corrected. 

At any given time, approximately 20 percent of all adults will have some type of neck pain. Whether it’s a stiff neck, a sore neck, or a bit of both, neck pain is a real pain in the butt. 

Having a stiff or sore neck can make sleeping extremely difficult. You need to rest to stop neck pain, but the pain prevents you from getting the rest you need. This Catch-22 situation can lead to some serious sleep-related issues, which is why I’m going to tell you some of the best ways you can fall asleep fast, even with neck pain, in 5 minutes or less. 

Want to know more? Keep reading so you can get some good shut-eye tonight! 


Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain


Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain

One of the main issues when it comes to sleeping with neck pain is that your preferred method of sleeping (side, back, stomach) may cause your pain to become so intense that it prevents you from sleeping. 

  1. Sleeping on your back with a thinner pillow
    Sleeping on your back will help you maintain the natural curve of your spine. Be sure to use a thinner, flatter pillow if you sleep on your back. Your head should be only slightly raised off the bed, similar to the position you have when standing upright. There are special, cervical pillows designed to support the head while allowing the neck to rest. The best pillows are viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam pillows, which provide excellent support. 
  2. Sleeping on your side with your chin not tucked down towards your chest.
    Sleeping on your side is another great way to keep the head in a neutral position, providing that your chin is not tucked down towards the chest. Use a memory foam pillow that allows you to keep your neck in a neutral position. If your shoulder is close to or is pressing against your ear, the pillow is too tall. 
  3. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or any position where your hands are higher than your head. These positions put an excessive amount of stress on one side of your neck. 

Tips to Help You Fall Asleep 

Sometimes, our thoughts about the day’s events and tomorrow can cause anxiety and prevent us from falling asleep. Other times, the fear that neck pain is going to become worse once you fall asleep is even more of a deterrent. 

While it can be difficult to convince your body that it is OK to fall asleep, the following tips are very helpful for many people. 

  • Drink a cup of chamomile or valerian tea. This tea is a gentle muscle relaxant that can help you to fall asleep naturally. Have one cup about 30-45 minutes before bedtime;
  • Keep the room cool. We sleep better in a room that is too cold rather than one that is too warm. Feather comforters are great at helping you maintain steady body heat without overheating. Open the windows and let your room become the coldest room in the house. 
  • Melatonin supplements are another great way to help you fall asleep. Only use this supplement for a few weeks so your body does not become dependent on it to fall asleep. Just 2 or 3mgs about 1 hour before bed should have you feeling sleepy and ready to hit the hay. 


Chiropractic Massage


Chiropractic Massage 

Tight, overworked, or damaged neck tissue can benefit tremendously from chiropractic massage.

Of course, you don’t want to aggravate your neck pain and if you have other health issues that are contributing or are the basis for neck pain (such as disc degeneration or pinched nerves) then you want to be sure to use a massage therapist at your local chiropractic office. 

Massage therapy has multiple benefits, but the best-known one is that it naturally relaxes the muscles and improves circulation, which will bring healing nutrients to the affected area. 

Studies show that a 60 -minute massage performed several times a week will help chronic neck pain heal faster than 30- minute massages or massages that are done infrequently or on an irregular schedule. 

We have in-house massage therapists that can help you find instant pain relief for your chronic neck pain. 

Relaxed neck muscles mean less pain, which should help you to fall asleep fast!


Comprehensive Chiropractic Care

You might be wondering what a chiropractor can do for neck pain

Like all doctors, what modalities and tools that a chiropractor will use will depend on the root cause of your neck pain. 

A study from 2019 found that people who used a memory foam pillow combined with chiropractic treatment had better results than those who used a pillow alone or chiropractic alone, so be sure to exchange your old pillow for a new viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam pillow.

After a complete exam and medical history, including x-rays if necessary, your chiropractor might use some or all of the following modalities: 

  • Cervical manipulations or adjustments;
  • Cervical traction;
  • Cervical mobilization;
  • Chiropractic massage;
  • Trigger point therapy;
  • Manual joint stretching;
  • Infrared therapy;
  • Heat therapy;
  • Ultrasound;
  • Use of a TENS device.

There are other types of techniques and devices that your chiropractor might find beneficial to use, depending on the root cause of your neck pain. 

Your doctor will discuss your condition and explain the treatment plan he has devised especially for you and your unique situation. Everyone is different and not everyone will need the same treatment plan. 

This study from 2007 explains that the benefits of chiropractic care outweighed the minor risk that any medical procedure carries. 

If the thought of having a neck adjustment scares you to death, you should know some of the facts about neck adjustments that the media won’t tell you. Cervical adjustments are gentle, non-invasive, and can help your neck heal faster than just about any other method. They are also perfectly safe. This article will explain this subject in detail.

Before Bedtime Stretching Exercises

  • A few stretches can help to relax the neck so you can sleep more comfortably. About 30 minutes before bed, try the following stretches:
  • Sit in a chair and bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on the left side. Don’t pull so hard that it hurts! This is a gentle stretch, not a lengthening stretch. 
  • Still sitting in the chair, turn your head and look over your right shoulder. Again, this is a gentle stretch, so don’t overdo it. Repeat with the left side. Do this three times on each side. 
  • Remain sitting in the chair and keep your shoulders down. Jut your head forward. Hold for just a second, then pull your head back, as if you were making a double chin. Repeat this exercise 5 times. 
  • These stretches will help relax tension and tightness in the neck and promote better sleep.


If Neck Pain Is Stopping You from Getting Sleep


If Neck Pain Is Stopping You from Getting Your Z’s

If you have neck pain 3 or more days out of the week, you should be examined by a professional who can determine the root cause of your pain and treat it successfully. 

Don’t live another day with neck pain or spend another sleepless night. The chiropractors and massage therapists at Better Health Alaska are here to help you heal faster! Call us today or you make an online appointment here. We accept all types of insurance and can help you with easy payment arrangements even if you have no insurance. 

Don’t live with neck pain; put yourself on the road towards healing today!

Acknowledgement Citation

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About Dr Brent Wells DC

Dr Brent Wells DC has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.

Dr Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more. For further information and to schedule an appointment please visit Brent Wells DC at  Better Health Alaska


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