Is Your Night time Routine Setting Up Your Neck Pain?

Reading in bed

Reading in bed

When I get patients to ask me ‘why do I get neck pain?’ Many patients want to know “WHY?”.  It can be difficult to answer. Not because I don’t know how to ease neck pain, but because neck pain can be caused by so many factors like prior injury history, genetics, posture, work requirements, and sleeping positions.

How Does My Sleep Position Affect My Neck Pain?

What I can suggest, however, is to take a look at your nighttime routine that might contribute to causing your neck pain.

Why do you ask? let me explain…

What many people don’t seem to know is that the head is designed to be in a position where your ears are vertically in line with your shoulders. Having your head in line with your shoulders, gives stronger support to your head from your neck.

If your head is tilted slightly, then the support won’t be as great and it will cause your neck to feel the weight of your head.  This weight is carried by active stabilizers like muscles first and then carried by passive stabilizers like ligaments, bones, and discs.  All of which can become injured and cause neck pain.

Now, this is something that many people do at nighttime and probably don’t really think of…

How Many Pillows Should I Use For My Head When I Sleep?

Sleeping with 2 pillows can cause havoc on your neck if they don’t support your head correctly. If you have 2 pillows they can sometimes prop your head upwards, tilting your head forwards.

By doing this, your head is in an unnatural position and will continue to be for roughly 8 hours. Not only this but your neck will also feel the pressure. Because your head isn’t supported correctly, your neck takes the role of support whilst you sleep.

That’s a lot of pressure on your passive neck stabilizers for 8 hours!

A general rule I have is to sleep with one pillow. It may feel a little weird at first (and by weird I mean flat), but once you get used to it, it will make a great difference. If you only have one pillow, it will support your head, whilst allowing it to stay in line with the body, giving your neck a well-deserved rest!

Another thing that you are probably doing that’s not helping your neck is…

Reading, checking emails or playing on your phone, or watching TV while in bed. Whichever it is, the same action is applied to all of them. As you unwind in bed doing any of the above, your head is tilted forward.

Because your head is tilted, the support isn’t coming from your shoulders anymore, but from your neck. With this in mind, let me tell you what’s actually happening in your neck…

When your head is tilted and is not supported by your shoulders, your neck compensates for them. To do this, your neck tenses its muscles to keep your head where it is.

If your neck DIDN’T tense those muscles, your head would just fall forward!

So because your muscles are tensed, your body is in an unusual position. If you read, check emails or play on your phone for say about 1 hour each night, then is it any wonder that your neck is hurting?

But the pain doesn’t stop there…

Now imagine going to sleep on 2 pillows, as well as reading for about an hour or so. By doing this, you can see that you may be causing your neck to already be in pain before your head hits the pillow!

Yet to think it’s been in an unusual position since reading, now you’re going to put it into another unusual position by going to sleep for 8 hours on 2 pillows?

When you look back and think about it, it makes you truly think about what damage you’re doing to your neck without realizing it.

So there you have it! Now you know how the head is designed, you understand why your neck pain occurs. As a result of knowing how easily your neck muscles can be tensed, you should be able to adjust your lifestyle accordingly!

Even if this means less reading time before bed and getting one supportive pillow for your head, you will be making a difference and will be easing any neck pain that may be caused at night!

What Can I Do At Home To Get Neck Pain Relief Now?

Here is a video we made to help stretch the neck and ease the tension in the muscles from these problematic postures.

Learn more about neck pain and what you can do you get relief by watching this recorded seminar on addressing neck pain.

If you’d like more tips like this on ways to naturally ease neck pain, then here’s a FREE report for you to download instantly:

Click Here To Download Your Free Neck Pain Guide
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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