How To Ease Neck Pain From Sleeping Wrong

You’re happy to complete your 8-hours of sleep cycle, but suddenly feel a wave of pain around your neck. That’s nothing less than a nightmare! You achieved your goal, but at what cost? 

Many people see sleep as an escape from reality or a way to prepare their body for the next day’s adventure. But in reality, sleeping itself is a task on its own. You have to maintain a proper posture to protect your neck and back from cramps or strains.

In fact, you are not the only adult sleeping wrong and waking up with excruciating neck pain. Around 10% of adults experience neck pain at one point — females more often than males. 

This brings us to the question, “How to ease neck pain from sleeping wrong?” Let’s find our answer.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

There are many causes of neck pain, including but not limited to: 

  • Cervical strain
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hyperostosis
  • Injury
  • Sleeping habits
  • Poor posture
  • Muscle stress
Sleeping Wrong

Sleeping is supposed to calm your body. Your heart and blood pressure get into a Zen mode and your brain gets to work. However, when you are sleeping wrong again and again, it adds to the pain. 

Non-restorative sleep worsens the pain by preventing healing and muscle restoration. The worst type of sleeping position is on your stomach. It develops muscle strain and leads to neck and back pain and spasms. 

Neck pain affects your daily routine as feelings of stabbing pain or a stiff neck prevents movement. Its after effects extend beyond the vicinity of your comfortable house; it impacts your life outside of that too. 

Two Types of Neck Pain

Before answering one of the most asked questions: “How to ease neck pain from sleeping wrong?,” it is necessary to determine the type of neck pain you are experiencing. Yes, there are different types of neck pain! 

  • Acute Neck Pain: It lasts less than 6 weeks.
  • Sub-Acute Neck Pain: It lasts 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic Neck Pain: It lasts more than 12 weeks.

Acute neck pains are not a problem. OTC pain relief medications can fix it. Sub-acute and chronic neck pain will be affected by sleep quality, regardless of gender, age, and treatments prescribed for neck pain. In other words, it does not leave easily. 

In most cases, the solution to chronic neck pain is improving sleep quality. But there are other treatments to ease the neck pain as well. 

Now that we have identified the problem, the question arises again: how to ease neck pain from sleeping wrong? Is there a formula? A painkiller, perhaps? Fortunately, the solution is simple and effective.

The Best Treatment for Neck Pain

Some people seek instant pain relief while others dive in to find the root cause of the pain. In both cases, painkillers are an inevitable part of neck pain treatment. Some other common methods to ease neck pain from sleeping wrong are stretching exercises, ice packs, and neck massage. 

Let us walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to relieve neck (and shoulder) pain from sleeping wrong instantly and permanently.

Instant Pain Relief

Moderate neck pain bugs everyone. In such situations, people often turn to over-the-counter medications to get instant relief. 

The most commonly used painkillers are Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, or naproxen. They are good for relieving pain, but moderate consumption is advised by doctors.  

Ice Packs

Ice is another treatment for neck pains. Most people apply ice packs, available in stores easily, on the painful spot. It numbs the stiff muscle to provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation. 

If you do not have an ice pack available at home, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables too. Many people prefer frozen towels since they are soft and fit well on the spot. 

Some tips to make the ice packs work:

  • Remember to not apply ice directly to the neck
  • You should wrap it around a piece of cloth to protect the neck skin as it is very delicate
  • Leave it on the skin for 15 to 20 minutes to let it penetrate the tissues
  • Repeat the procedure every three to five hours until you observe relief

Ice packs are perfect for:

  • sudden pain
  • swelling
  • soothing muscles after stretching exercise

Heat Compress 

Heat is a very underrated treatment for neck pains — or any other type of pain. By heat, we do not mean to suggest exposing your neck directly to fire. It will not help for obvious reasons. 

What can help with neck pain is moderate application of heat, through a medium, on the painful spot. 

You can apply heat in different ways: 

  1. Apply moist heat in shower for 10-15 minutes
  2. Take a hot bath
  3. Apply a warm, moist towel heated in a microwave
  4. Apply a heated gel pack wrapped in a thin piece of cloth

Heat relaxes the neck muscles and helps with recurring neck pains. Heat packs are more than perfect to literally warm up the muscles before stretching exercise. It is also great for neck pain after the swelling diminishes. 

Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!

If there is anything more underrated than heat compress, it is stretching. It is the best thing you can do to yourself. Stretching not only helps in easing neck pain, but also helps with stiff necks. Stiff necks are seldom cured by OTC medicines or ice packs. 

Try a few stretches to restore neck mobility. It strengthens your neck muscles and decreases neck pain as well. Stretching makes your neck quite flexible.

There is no perfect time for stretching. You can do it as soon as you wake up after warming up your muscles with a heat pad or when pain strikes with full force. 

Excellent Stretching Strategies

There are many instructors on YouTube with videos on how to ease neck pain from sleeping wrong with neck stretches. Try them; they won’t disappoint. But if you are looking for some suggestions, try these few stretches to ease neck pain. 

  • Backward Neck Extension: It is as easy as it sounds. All you have to do is to look upwards, pretending to watch the airplane flying over you. Try to extend your neck as much as possible to release tension. Repeat the same step for 10-15 times to get the best results.
  • Forward Bending: Imagine your boss is giving you an order and you are nodding enthusiastically. With some adjustments, you can make it a great stretch for neck pain relief. Lower your chin by bringing it to the chest and wait for 5 seconds before moving to the initial position. It is a great way to stretch the back and neck simultaneously.  
  • Side to Side Bending: This is hands-down the best way to stretch your neck to get instant relief. Sit down, bend your neck towards your shoulder (as close as you can) and repeat this step on the other side. Wait for 5 seconds on each side and you are good to go. 

How To Ease Neck Pain From Sleeping Wrong Permanently?

The only answer to “how to relieve a stiff neck from sleeping wrong” is to sleep right. While tranquilizers, stretches, ice and heat packs ease the neck pain temporarily, it is likely to come back. 

The only long-term solution is to alter your sleeping position to make it correct. It will take time to readjust to a new sleeping position – which for some is as painful as neck stiffness – but it does wonders. 

So what exactly is “sleeping right?” Sleeping right is not as difficult as it sounds. 

The best sleeping position for neck pain is not sleeping with a bunch of pillows under your head. Elevating your head toward the roof will not help. Instead try to sleep on your neck. Yes, use a taller pillow to align your head and neck, but make sure you are keeping the spine straight. 

Tips To Avoid Neck Pain

Sleeping in awkward positions may seem comfortable, but it is not good for the long term. Abrupt neck movements can cause neck pain and even an injury. Neck injuries can be the worst. So, try to ensure a few things while sleeping:

  • You are sleeping either on your back or on your sides
  • Use a pillow to elevate your head – but not too much
  • Have enough space on the bed for your body to spread rather than being engulfed by pillows

If the neck pain gets better, then great. If not, get in touch with your doctor and seek medical attention.


Neck pain is the common side effect of sleeping wrong. Since prevention is better than cure, you should try never sleeping on your stomach and with a pile of pillows. 

Hopefully, the above methods will help you relieve the pain at home. However, if the neck pain persists, contact a professional doctor as soon as possible to find the real cause of the issue. It may not be due to sleeping wrong! 

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