Neck Pain and Sleep Quality: What's the Connection?

sleep quality, best sleeping position for neck pain

If you get sleepless nights lately due to neck and shoulder pain, you're probably wondering what the best sleeping position for neck pain could be. But really, what you should be asking instead is how you can manage your pain to have a better sleep quality. If you suffer from chronic neck or shoulder pain, does that mean your sleep will also suffer? According to this study, it does, particularly for middle-aged women.

It's no secret that how well you sleep can affect your health. If you have been sleeping less than recommended, you may eventually develop a health concern. Neck and shoulder pain, however, also significantly impact how much quality Zs you get every night. This study found that severe neck and shoulder pain contributes to poor sleep quality, and those with better health perception get better sleep.


Pain Diminishes Sleep Quality

Your nightly sleep is essential to your physical health and well-being, but if you have unaddressed pain and discomfort, the quality of your sleep eventually deteriorates. If you've been experiencing neck and shoulder pain, it can interfere with your daily routine, including sleep. And it can only get worse from there. The more severe the pain in your neck and shoulder, your sleep quality dwindles further. It is understandable why there is a concern about finding the best sleeping position for neck pain, but addressing the pain and finding its root cause is a more fitting long-term solution.


The Importance of Health Perception and Sleep

The same study examined the connection between health perception and sleep quality in middle-aged women. Researchers found that shoulder pain, self-perceived task difficulty, and health perception were essential variables affecting sleep quality, particularly for the said age group. Therefore, if you have an improved health perception, it brings a positive impact on your sleep.


Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain

While we encourage you to find a long-term solution to your neck and shoulder pain, it is by no means considered that finding the best sleeping position for neck pain unimportant. If you're in the process of getting proper care yet still experience neck pain, here are three tips that may help you reduce neck pain and get a better night's rest:

1. Get the right pillow

Surprise, surprise, your pillow matters. Not all pillows are created equal, and this is because they should match your pillow height with your preferred sleeping position. There is no single pillow that works best for everyone. The vital factor to consider is supporting the natural curve of your neck. This will help ease the stress on your neck.

  • For back sleepers, you may benefit from a thin pillow. To know if the pillow is the right one for you, test it by lying down on it and having someone take a picture of the curve of your neck from the side. If the curve looks similar to standing with good posture, you are looking at the right pillow.
  • Side Sleepers will need a thicker pillow to maintain the neck and head position in the middle of the shoulders. The thickness will depend on the height and the width of your shoulders. Smaller frames will need a slimmer pillow, and if you're broad-shouldered, you will need a thicker pillow.
  • If you're a stomach sleeper, you may need an ultra-slim pillow or not use a pillow at all. When you sleep on your stomach, you stress your cervical spine more because your neck tilts on one side for an extended period. We encourage you to avoid this sleeping position.

sleep quality, best sleeping position for neck pain






2. Limit the use of your phones and tablets before bedtime

This reminder has been going around too long, but do you really know why experts recommend limiting or not using your smartphones and tablets before sleeping? This habit can interfere with your sleep in different ways, such as:

  • Developing neck pain. When you use your phone before bed, you tend to bend your neck and head down to look at your gadget. Unknowingly, this habit stresses your upper cervical spine; the more you do it, the more pressure and stress you put on your neck.
  • Disrupting the sleep cycle. Your phone screen emits a blue light which may inhibit sleep by delaying your body's release of melatonin. Since sleep is essential to the body's healing process, less sleep may also contribute to neck pain.

We encourage you to try to avoid phone use in bed and shortly before bedtime. However, if it's really necessary, make sure you hold your device at eye level and limit screen time to only a few minutes.

3. Do some light stretching before bed.

Stretching your neck will help loosen tight muscles and may help relieve pain to give you a good night's sleep. Many video guides are available online to help you find that easy, perfect, and proper stretch you can try before bed. You can also search for those stretching routine that helps loosen your levator scapulae muscle or the muscle that connects your neck to your shoulder blade to help with neck and shoulder pain.


Managing Neck Pain For a Better Sleep

If the pain has been persistent, and you've been to some health care professionals, but you still have interrupted sleep due to pain, maybe it's time to consult an upper cervical chiropractor near you. A licensed upper cervical chiropractic doctor can help identify if a misalignment in your upper spine contributes to your pain and interrupted sleep. They can also recommend a customized care regimen to correct the misalignment. Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in techniques such as NUCCA, Upper Cervical Care, Blair, Epic, and Knee Chest. To find the right one for you, check out our doctor's directory to book your appointment.

Dealing with the root of your pain can make you feel comfortable again. So don't delay it any further and call an upper cervical chiropractor today.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.