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How to Get Restful Sleep When You Are Suffering with Neck Pain

Posted Oct 08 2010 12:00am

Sleeping with Neck Pain I get this question a lot on the neck pain support blog from patients who are having trouble sleeping at night because they suffer from neck pain. The neck pain may be due to a whiplash type injury, a herniated or bulging disc , a neck sprain/strain or because of bad neck posture during the day or at work.

In this post I want to go over some best practices regarding contoured neck pillows and sleep, that will help you if you suffer from neck pain.

  • Your neck posture while sleeping with a proper pillow is VERY IMPORTANT! Sleeping positions that are recommended include: lying on your back and both sides. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended as it causes rotation in the neck.

    You want to get a pillow that allows the neck to remain “neutral” or, maintain its normal curve that is present when standing. The pillow should not be too thick or too thin. Too thick and your head is going to be jutting forward, and too thin, you are not going to get the support that you need in the cervical spine. Since the neck is generally skinnier than our head, a “neck-friendly” pillow should be thicker on the edge so that it fills in the space between the neck and bed and thinner under the head. This is true whether we lay on our sides or back but the amount of space varies with age, gender, and your body type: thin, medium or heavy-set. Here are some contour pillows you may consider:

    There are many contoured or “shaped” pillows available that are thicker on the outside edges and thinner in the middle. Some of these include foam pillows of different densities, air pillows, water pillows, memory foam pillows, feather pillows, and others.

    The Neck Pain Relief Shop even carries a pillow based on the measurement between the neck and the point of the shoulder. This allows an individual to pick the pillow size best suited for their neck size. The Cervical Alignment Neck Pillow is available in three lobe sizes to perfectly fit the size of your neck. You can measure from the bottom of your ear to your shoulder with a standard ruler or tape measure to determine which size provides the best personal fit for you.
    • Measurement of 4" or less, use the 5” Lobe
    • Measurement of 4 to 5" = use the 6” Lobe
    • Measurement of 6" or more= Use the #7 Lobe)

    It’s important to note that it can take about a week to get used to the “new shaped” pillow so, “BE PATIENT!” Since we spend 6-8 hours of time in bed sleeping (that’s 1/3 of our life is spent sleeping!), neck pain may be PREVENTED by using a proper contoured pillow and, it’s easier to get used to the new shape when you don’t hurt so take advantage of getting a contoured pillow when you are feeling good.
  • Avoid caffeine at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
  • Exercising too close to bedtime is not helpful.

Source: Glastonbury Chiropractor Dr. Bellingers October 2010 Newsletter

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