Adjusting Your Sleeping Position
Are you waking up in the morning and experiencing neck stiffness and pain? Depending on your sleeping position, you may want to keep some things in mind. First, let’s consider what position you tend to sleep in at night.
Side sleepers need a thicker pillow under their head to keep their neck in neutral alignment so throw those old flat pillows away. Additional pillows will be needed between your knees and another one between your arms like you are giving that pillow a hug. The use of pillows in this sleeping position will put your body in better alignment and reduce your risk of neck, knee, and back pain.
A thinner pillow is ok to use under your head if you are a back sleeper however you do want to consider the use of a thicker pillow underneath your thighs. Placing a pillow underneath your thighs reduces the stress placed on your lower back.
Stomach sleepers make up a very small population and although stomach sleeping can have some benefits, it’s outweighed by significant disadvantages, therefore I would consider avoiding this position. By sleeping on your stomach, you’re already straining your neck by turning it to the side. If you add a pillow to this equation, now you’re further increasing the tension in your neck and maintaining it for the duration of your sleep. If you can’t avoid sleeping on your stomach try adding a pillow underneath your hips to decrease the arch in your lower back.
Now we’ve learned that with the proper use of pillows, we can improve our positioning throughout a night of sleep and promote better muscle relaxation and decrease our risk for aches and pains upon waking.
Focus on Your Posture
There are various positions throughout the day where we can find ourselves in positions that can contribute to neck stiffness and pain. Common activities where we have to be more aware of correct posture is when sitting at a desk, texting, and reading books. We want to try to keep our shoulders down and back and keep our head from coming forwards. In a forward head position, the load placed on the cervical spine can double or triple. Instead of bringing your head forward or down to read a text message or read a book, try bringing those items up to your face so that your head can stay in a neutral position. When working at a computer, make sure the screen is at eye level so that you aren’t looking up or down for long periods of time.
This tip is great for those who work a desk job. Instead of staying in a position for a long period of time and letting all of those muscles get tight and stiff, try getting up and moving around. Blood flow and movement can not only help reduce stiffness, but it can also help with your concentration and mood. We can all benefit from moving more!
Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. Are you breathing through your stomach or are you noticing a lot of movement in your chest and shoulders? If you aren’t breathing through your stomach and focusing on diaphragmatic breathing, you may be causing increased stiffness and tension in your neck. Lay on your back, place your hands on your stomach and focus on raising your stomach with your breath.
Have you ever noticed when you’re stressed that your neck and shoulders seem tense and become firm. A lot of us tend to carry stress in our necks and shoulders and find ourselves in less than ideal positions when we are stressed. When you find yourself becoming stressed, take a break and focus on methods to reduce your stress. Focusing on deep belly breathing can help reduce stress and promote relaxation while also improving your breathing technique.