‘I wake up with neck pain’ , ‘I find it difficult to know how to position my neck at night’ , ‘I’ve been getting pins and needles in my arms at night’, ‘ I cricked my neck during the night’ . These are some of the comments our patient make when describing the pattern and onset of their neck pain.

Firstly it is not uncommon for sleep to be a trigger for neck and arm symptoms. The position the rest of your body is in will often determine the position of your neck so getting this right can go along way in supporting the neck. Your body position will also affect how many and the type of pillow best suited to you. I have summarised my top tips below.

  • A pillow should fill the gap between your neck and the bed. So if you lay on your side 1-2, deepening on thickness and material, is ideal. If you lay on your back 1 should be enough.
  • If you lay on your front I would always urge you to attempt to change this position. When you lay on your front your neck will have to rotate and this will add strain to the neck. If you cannot fall to sleep in any other position then to take some strain off your neck avoid using any pillow or just a very thin one. Do persist in trying to break the habit of sleeping on your front as over time mid and lower back discomfort can develop.
  • When you sleep keep your arms down and shoulders relaxed. Often patients will report sleeping with their arm under the pillow. This can feel  comfortable initially but after a few hours in this position the nerves travelling from the neck into the arm can get pinched causing pins and needles along with adding tension to the neck.
  • The type of pillow you choose is very individual. There are many different styles, shapes and materials on the market and not one size fits all. I always advise not to jump to anything to far from what you are currently using. Having a couple of different types of pillows can be beneficial.
  • When travelling carry a travel pillow to support your neck if you need to sleep. Falling asleep sitting up right will challenge your neck as the muscles relax. Having a travel pillow around your neck will add some support when sudden movements occur. Always ensure the head support is raised on your seat to the appropriate height to support your head.

If you have neck pain when you wake up, try these tips. Good pillows and improving posture at night are helpful but they don’t always resolve the issue completely. For more information or to book in for an assessment please call us on 01600 890282.