Neck Pain? The Problem Could Be Your Pillow

Do you think a bed piled high with pillows is the height of luxury? Do you stack ‘em up high when you go to sleep at night?

If so, you’re not alone. There’s something about the soft, sinking sensation of a pile of pillows that makes us feel secure and comforted. Unfortunately, that’s a psychological, emotional reaction that is in direct conflict with what’s best for you physically.

Lots of people wake up in the morning with neck pain and assume that it is either a result of aging or of having twisted their neck in their sleep. In all probability, the problem is the position you put yourself in before you went to sleep. If you have multiple pillows and you’re using them to prop up your head, then it doesn’t really matter whether you sleep on your back, your side or (worst of all) your stomach, you’re likely to wake up in pain.

So what’s the answer to the pillow question? How many should you sleep with, and what position is best to avoid neck pain? Without a question, you want just one pillow, and it should not be too flat or push your neck too far up towards the ceiling. The best way to sleep is the position you imagine when you picture the classic vampire in the casket scene. Flat on your back, with your head slightly elevated. If you must, then sleep on your side, but remember that the goal of having a pillow is to support your neck, not to tilt your head.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, then using a pillow is just a flat-out bad idea. Your position is already forcing you to turn your head to one side or the other at far too great an angle, just to allow you to breathe. Most people then throw their arms over their head, adding additional pressure to the shoulders and neck. Now take that awkward position and add on a pillow to angle your head back, and you understand why it’s a toxic mixture.

As far as picking the right pillow, your best bet is to toss out all those fluffy pillows you’ve accumulated for their luxe look and replace it with a memory foam pillow that has a carve-out for your head and neck. Those are specifically designed to give you the support you need without forcing you into too sharp an angle.

If you make these changes and still feel tension in your neck, there are a couple of other fixes you can try on your own: one of the best is to check your posture, especially when you’re working on your computer or perusing the content on your favorite device. Far too many of us are suffering from text neck, a pain that specifically comes from bending your neck too far forward on too constant a basis.

If none of those things work, it’s probably time to visit our cervical spine specialist to see what kind of solutions we can offer. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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