How to Sleep with a Stiff Neck

Stiff neck is common in the daily life. It may due to poor habitual posture. Sometimes continually looking down for extended periods of time at a computer monitor or other devices can also cause the neck muscles to tire and overstretch. It is hard to fall asleep or to sleep soundly when your neck hurts. Be careful about how to sleep in the evening, so you don’t exacerbate the problem.

How to Sleep with a Stiff Neck

1. Select the Right Pillow

If you wake up in the morning with a stiff neck, it’s time to replace your pillow. Choosing a memory foam pillow will give consistent support, which helps your neck to relax and become restored during the night.

2. Sleep Without Any Pillow

Lying flat in bed without a pillow may aid in relieving neck pain and keep your neck from getting stiff while you sleep. Sleeping without a pillow for a few nights after tweaking your neck is recommended.

3. Replace Feather Pillows Annually

A feather pillow may provide good neck support, but will lose its fluffiness in about a year. When you begin to awaken with a stiff neck, it’s time to shop for a new pillow. This is an important way about how to sleep with a stiff neck.

4. Sleep on a Firm Mattress

Your mattress could be the source of your neck issues. A mattress should be flipped occasionally to help keep its proper shape, although not all mattresses are designed to be flipped. Mattresses are good for about seven years, so if you’ve had yours longer than that, it’s time for a new one.

5. Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

Lying on your stomach to sleep twists your neck to one side and is hard on your spine. Instead, sleep on your side or back. If you turn over onto your stomach while you’re asleep, you won’t have to lie that way so long.

6. Sleep 7–8 Hours Each Night

Here’s something else to consider when you’re wondering how to sleep with a stiff neck. Your body restores and heals itself during the nighttime sleeping hours. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep during the right hours, or if your sleep is frequently disturbed, your neck pain may continue or get even worse.

How to Relieve a Stiff Neck

1. Massage

Relax your muscles by taking a hot shower or bath. Massage warm coconut or olive oil into your neck. This increases the blood circulation, which helps minimize the stiffness. You can turn to a professional therapist if you can't massage by yourself.

2. Cold Compresses

To make a cold compress, cover a bag of frozen peas with a thin towel, or wrap up ice cubes. Hold it on your neck for about ten or fifteen minutes, and repeat every couple of hours for two days. The cold helps to numb the pain and limit the buildup of lactic acid which causes soreness.

3. Heat Therapy

If the cold compress doesn’t help, try heat. Apply either a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or a hot towel on your neck for at least ten minutes. You can also stand under a warm shower for several minutes a couple of times a day.

4. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt may bring relief to a stiff neck. It works to reduce muscle tension by improving circulation and regulating various enzymes in the body. Put two cups of Epsom salt in a tubful of warm water and soak for fifteen or twenty minutes. If you are diabetic or have kidney problems, don’t do this.

5. Stretch Exercises

Though the methods about how to sleep with a stiff neck are essential, preventing the neck from hurting completely can give you more relief. Try the following stretch exercises.

  • ŸGentle Neck Stretches Lying. Lie down on your bed and stretch your head up from your shoulders. Tuck your chin into your neck as far as possible. Hold for ten seconds and repeat thirty times. Then turn your head side to side gently. Keep going as long as you can, and notice that you’re able to turn farther as you keep rolling.
  • Gentle Neck Stretches Standing. Try doing the same chin tuck exercise while standing or sitting in front of a mirror. Look straight ahead and tuck. You may place your hands on your chin and push. Keep the correct posture by looking into the mirror.
  • Forward Tilt. Sit on a straight-backed chair and tuck in your chin as above. Lower your head only and place your hands on top of your head. Don’t push, just lay them there. Don’t round your shoulders or back. Hold for ten seconds and release. Repeat thirty times.
  • Side Tilt. Repeat the same exercise only this time from side to side. Hold onto the edge of the chair so you don’t lift the right should. Tuck your chin, lowering your head to the left shoulder. Lay your left arm over your head, fingers touching your right ear. Hold for ten seconds and repeat for the other side.
  • Look over Shoulder. Turn your head from side to side, looking as far back over your shoulder as possible while keeping your head upright.

Watch this video for more stretch exercises to relieve neck stiffness and neck pain.

6. Apply a Topical Analgesic

Massaging in a soothing balm can bring quick relief. Try a balm such as Icy Hot, Aspercreme, Ben Gay, or arnica salve. Or make your own by melting a tablespoon of beeswax and two tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat. Stir in five drops of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. Pour into a lidded container and cool. Massage the creme over the affected area for soothing relief.

7. Take Medications

Taking an OTC pain medication will help control the pain. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen following the accompanying instructions. Or rub ibuprofen gel on the affected area.

When to See a Doctor

If your pain isn’t relieved within a few days or weeks by using these methods or by using OTC painkillers, see your doctor. A primary symptom of meningitis is a stiff neck. Meningitis causes swelling around the brain because of a bacterial infection. A stiff neck may indicate a heart attack. Anxiety may also cause a stiff neck, so you may wish to visit with a counselor. Seek immediate medical attention if the stiff neck is accompanied by fever, chest or arm pain, vomiting or nausea, dizziness, difficulty touching your chest with your chin, or trouble walking, sitting, or standing.

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