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An older woman holding a heat pack against her neck

Waking Up Sore? Say Goodbye to Annoying Neck Pain

How to Sleep with Neck Pain

You toss and turn all night long. You just can’t seem to find a position that feels comfortable for your head and neck. When morning comes, your neck doesn’t feel any better. In fact, it hurts — a lot. It’s stiff. Moving may also cause pain. It’s not exactly an ideal way to start your day.

Well, you aren’t alone. Neck pain impacts about 23% of the general population. And it can arise due to various reasons. So, let’s get to the bottom of your neck pain once and for all. Why is it happening? How does it create sleeping problems and more? And most importantly, what can you do about it? Let's take a look at how to sleep with neck pain.

Common Types of Neck Pain



The neck is comprised of various ligaments, muscles, and bones. The vertebrae in the neck connect your spine to your skull. In between the vertebrae are discs that absorb impact between the bones. Injury or inflammation to any of these areas can result in pain throughout your day and at night.

These are the most common causes of neck pain.

Muscle Strain

You don’t have to be doing any heavy-lifting to pull a muscle. A muscle strain in the neck can happen due to bad posture, staying in the same position for too long, or sleeping with your neck positioned in a certain way.

The result? You’ll likely have neck stiffness, pain along the shoulders and upper back, numbness or weakness in the arms, pain when moving your neck a certain way, and even headaches.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Disc degeneration happens naturally with age. But for a person with degenerative disc disease, it happens faster. The discs wear down, and pain results. Sometimes, this pain can feel quite severe. It may worsen when twisting or moving your neck. Generally, as time goes on, symptoms get worse. Thankfully, there are various treatment methods for this condition (as we will explore below!).

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can arise from degenerative disc disease. This condition is when two bones rub against each other, causing them to become worn down. If you have this condition in your neck, neck pain and stiffness are key characteristics. You might also notice a grinding sensation when you move your neck.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc happens when one of the spinal discs protrudes or ruptures. Again, this can cause neck pain, as well as radiating pain down the arms.

Other Causes

A few other causes of neck pain include rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, and osteoporosis. If you are experiencing severe neck pain, book a visit with your doctor and get it checked out as soon as you can. From there, you can get a proper diagnosis and begin appropriate treatment for it.

How Can Neck Pain Cause Difficulty Sleeping?

Any kind of pain can interrupt your sleep, leaving you with restless nights and exhausted mornings. Neck pain, in particular, can prevent you from finding a comfortable position. You might find you wake up frequently with pain, or you simply can’t fall asleep.

So, what can you do? How can you sleep with neck pain? We’ve got a few tips!

Tips for Coping with Neck Pain

Sleep is essential. Without it (or lacking it), you may move through your day in a fog. And if neck pain plays a role, you’re probably uncomfortable. Use the following tips and tricks to help combat your neck pain — and finally get a good night’s rest.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

While you don’t want to rely on pain medication for a long time, taking over-the-counter pain medication temporarily can help you find some relief. It can reduce your pain and decrease any inflammation, allowing you to sleep better. Take as directed before bed. Avoid taking any over-the-counter pain medication for longer than two weeks. Doing so may cause unwanted gastrointestinal side effects.

Use Heating Pads

Before bed, relax for 10-20 minutes with a heating pad across your neck and shoulders. This can decrease muscle tension, reduce muscle spasms, and allow you to go to bed feeling relaxed and in less pain.

Use Muscle Rubs

There are various types of muscle rubs and creams you can purchase at your local pharmacy to help reduce your neck pain. Again, use as directed and before bed. We recommend keeping it by your bedside, just in case pain wakes you up at night and you need an easy go-to.

Find the Right Pillow for You and Your Body

Neck pain can often result from using either the wrong or an old pillow. As you sleep, your neck requires adequate support. You can purchase pillows specifically for this, such as cervical memory foam pillows or pillows with special cervical support. It may take trying a few different types out until you find one that works — but it will be entirely worth it!

Sleep Better, Without Pain!

Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. Use our tips above to help alleviate your neck pain and finally get the rest your body needs. If your neck pain is severe and persistent, book a visit with your family doctor to determine the cause and to find an appropriate treatment for you. That way, you can live your life — without pain holding you back.

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