Posture For Sleeping With Neck Arthritis
Last but certainly not least, your posture may have something to do with your challenges sleeping with neck arthritis. Your posture is not a matter of laziness. It is a reflection of the structure and alignment of your spine beneath the surface. Therefore, if you have a notable problem with your posture when you are sitting or standing upright, these same problems can follow you even when you lie down to sleep.
Your posture can be a sign that you have a mechanical alignment problem with your neck that may actually be responsible for your neck pain, headaches, and even neck arthritis and your sleeping habits may simply be the things that are making the problem worse. In other words, the problem may not be with your sleeping pillow, position, or platform at all! Unlike the other pieces of the puzzle that you may be able to trial for yourself, this one requires getting an expert opinion on the alignment of your neck to determine if a problem here may actually be contributing to your sleeping troubles.
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Why Your Sleeping Position Matters
Your body takes a beating during the day. You put tension on your ligaments, muscles, tissue and joints, says Dr. Bang. Sleeping provides the opportunity for everything to recover and reset.
But if you lie down in a position that maintains tension on certain body parts while you slumber, that recovery doesnt take place like it could and should. The results? Hello, aches and pains in the a.m.!
The problem only grows as you age, too, as the cartilage that cushions your joints wears down.
Your goal should be to find a neutral posture when you sleep, says Dr. Bang. The idea is to avoid adding any fatigue. Let your body truly rest.
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How To Sleep With Neck Pain
This article was medically reviewed by Mayami Oyanagi. Mayami Oyanagi is a Physical Therapist and the owner of PT STOP Physical Therapy & Wellness, an individualized physical therapy practice in Los Angeles, California. With over 14 years of experience, Mayami specializes in orthopedic injuries, manual therapy, and sports medicine. She holds an MS in Physical Therapy from the University of Hartford. Mayami is also a board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. She treats the root cause of her clients problems by utilizing biomechanical assessments.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 146,362 times.
Sleeping with neck pain can be painful and frustrating. However, protecting your neck and keeping your sleep pain-free is possible! Start by selecting a sleep position that will cushion and support, rather than agitate your neck. Then, use sleep supports and make your bedroom cozy so you can get a good nights sleep, despite your neck pain.
Best Way To Sleep With Neck Pain
Your spine naturally arches in three places. It curves forward at your neck and lower back. It curves the other way in your upper back. Setting up your bed to best maintain these natural curves can help you minimize neck or back pain.
Many people find that using a memory foam helps them manage their neck pain. A 2019 study found that combining a viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam pillow with chiropractic treatment was more effective than chiropractic treatment alone.
You can also try using a soft feather pillow that forms to your head or a pillow with cervical support.
If you sleep on your back:
- Use a thin pillow. A thin pillow lets you keep your upper spine in its natural position with a slight forward curve.
- Try a cervical pillow. A cervical pillow supports your neck and head to keep them in a neutral position.
- Use a supportive mattress. If your mattress is too soft, you may find that you sink into it and your back rounds.
When sleeping on your side:
- Avoid overly high pillows. Ideally, your pillow should be a height that keeps your ears stacked vertically over each other. If your pillow is too high or low, your neck will bend and you may develop pain over time.
- Keep chin neutral. Try to avoid tucking your chin if youre sleeping in the fetal position. Tucking your chin positions your head forward.
- Try putting a pillow between your knees. Putting a pillow between your knees helps keep your lower spine in alignment.
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Or Sleep With Ice Packs
Everyone says heat for arthritis but for me ice is the best, especially if I cant sleep, says Jennifer D., 28, of Washington, D.C. Heat makes the rashes from my psoriatic arthritis feel worse so I have ice packs I keep in the freezer and put them down my pajamas at bedtime. It takes some getting used to but its worth it for me to sleep better. Her trick is to buy ice packs that dont leak or sweat so she doesnt wake up in a wet bed.
How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress
Its possible to buy a mattress with a 20-year or 30-year warranty. The product may even hold up that long for you. Heres the issue, though: Your body can change a lot over a few decades, notes Dr. Bang.
What youre looking for in a mattress will probably change as you age, says Dr. Bang. Whats right for the 30-year-old you might not be the best choice for the 50-year-old or 60-year-old version of yourself.
Given that, its best to change mattresses about every eight to 10 years especially if youve experienced physical changes such as an injury or a significant weight gain or loss.
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Sleep With A Thin Pillow
Sleep problems were actually how I discovered I have osteoarthritis in my neck, says Nancy B., 52, of Gig Harbor, Washington. For years, all she knew was that lifting her head, even a little, caused terrible pain and a night of no sleep. To keep her neck straight, she slept with the thinnest pillow possible. Last year she started having neck spasms, which lead her to get diagnosed with arthritis. Ive had to change a lot of things since my diagnosis, but the flat pillow has stayed. People think Im weird when they see my sad little pillow its actually a pillow designed for backpacking but its the only way I can sleep without my neck hurting, she explains.
Position Yourself For A Good Nights Sleep
When joint pain makes sleep elusive, follow this joint-by-joint guide to getting comfortable and finding the right sleep position for you.
Restful sleep is important to almost every aspect of your health including managing your pain and your arthritis. Yet pain from arthritis can make getting to sleep and staying asleep difficult. Finding ways to ease pressure on your painful joints is key.
Experts recommend you start by taking a closer look at what you sleep on and in. If your mattress sags or has depressions where you sleep, its probably time for a new one or at least to have someone rotate the one you have, says Meryl Picard, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. Sheets and pajamas should be made of smooth material that allow you to move freely at night. Friction that inhibits movement can lead to morning stiffness, she says.
Next, look for ways to soothe sore joints. Manisha Sheth, PhD, assistant professor of occupational therapy in Southern California at West Coast University, recommends a warm bath or shower before bed. For individual joints, apply topical analgesics or microwavable hot packs. If joints are inflamed, a freezable gel pack wrapped in a towel provides cooling relief.
An alternative for back sleepers, says Sheth, is to sleep with a wedge under your trunk to support your upper body at 45-degree angle. Add a roll or pillow under your knees.
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How Neck Arthritis Is Diagnosed
Your doctor will start by taking a history and doing a physical exam. Theyll check the range of motion in your neck and test your strength, sensation, and reflexes to find out if there is pressure on your nerves or spinal cord. Theyll ask when your symptoms started, when the pain happens, and what makes the pain better and worse.
Your doctor may order an X-ray to assess alignment and look for arthritic changes, says Dr. Shah. If there is a concern of compression of spinal nerves or the spinal cord, you may need an MRI to look at the neutral structure and discs, says Dr. Shah.
A CT scan may be ordered to look at the bone more closely, especially to see if any bony outgrowths are causing compression. However, X-rays and MRIs are the tests that are usually ordered, says Dr. Shah. A CT scan with a myelogram may be used if an MRI cant be done.
An electromyography, or EMG, may be ordered to assess for nerve compression, says Dr. Shah. An EMG tests the electrical conduction of the nerves in the arms. This test would be helpful if you have multiple nerves being compressed or compression of nerves at the neck and in the arm, he says.
Your doctor may order blood tests to see if you have any antibodies or systemic inflammation that would reveal inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis.
Sleeping On Your Back
Sleeping on your back helps maintain your spines natural curves. You can use a thinner pillow in this position than you would when sleeping on your side. Your head position should be only slightly raised so that its at a similar angle as when youre standing.
Using a cervical pillow or a memory foam pillow can help support your head or neck. If you regularly snore or deal with sleep apnea, you may want to try sleeping on your side instead of your back.
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The Best Sleeping Positions For Your Neck And Spine
- The Best Sleeping Positions for Your Neck and Spine
Your body doesnt shut down when you sleep. The night is a regenerative time. Our bodies are mending and rejuvenating so that when we wake up we feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Thats not always automatic, though. When it comes to back and neck pain, your body needs a little help from you to get things right.
The position in which you sleep has a direct impact on your spine health. Most of us will wake up at some point in our lives with neck or back pain and oftentimes our sleeping position is the culprit. What can we do to fix it? In short, the way to ensure a happy spine is to keep it neutral. Neutral means that your spine is straight. This starts with your head and neck and goes all the way down. Even things like having your hips/pelvis tilted one way can in turn twist your spine.
Below is a breakdown of the four most basic sleeping positions.
The Overall Best: On your back. Sleeping on your back evenly distributes weight throughout your body and avoids unnatural or unnecessary curves in the spine. Use a small pillow underneath the head and neck to keep everything in alignment. Even better, a small cylindrical pillow in the crook of your neck supports your neck and keeps your head neutral on the mattress. Do note, though, that this sleeping position can cause some people to snore.
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Worst Sleeping Position For Neck Pain
Stomach sleeping with the head facing one side is not recommended for relieving neck pain. Sleeping on the stomach may increase weight on the neck and limit recovery from pain. Compared to side and back sleepers, stomach sleepers report the greatest amount of neck pain during the day.
Stomach sleepers may be able to train themselves to sleep on their back or side to reduce neck pain. One way to change a habitual sleep position is to place pillows around the body to prevent turning onto the stomach until the new sleep position is established.
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Five Spinal Arthritis Sleep Tips
Sore, achy joints shouldnt come in the way of achieving quality sleep and a well-rested morning. Here are five things to consider to help secure your Z’s and start your day off on the right foot.
Could your corticosteroid be part of the problem? Corticosteroid treatment has been linked to insomnia. If youre struggling to fall asleep, talk to your doctor about altering your medication regimen at bedtime, such as taking an aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug instead. Corticosteroids arent the only spine pain drugs that can interfere with a good nights rest.
You can learn more about how medicine impacts sleep in ?
Match your sleep position to your joint pain. Have a sore joint in your neck? Rest your head on a flat pillow so your cervical spine is in a neutral position. Those with low back joint pain might find relief by sleeping on their back or side with their knees and hips flexed at a 90-degree angle. If you have hip joint stiffness, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs is a good idea.
You can get more ideas on finding the right sleep posture for your spine in .
A firm mattress and supportive pillow may help. A firm mattress will support your body, and help ease pain. Pillows are also important to acquiring good sleep, and lumbar and cervical pillows can help cushion tender joint pain points. You can get more advice on selecting a proper mattress in .
How To Sleep With Cervical Radiculopathy
The only thing worse than losing out on a full night of sleep is losing out on several full nights of sleep. Unfortunately, pain-related medical conditions, such as cervical radiculopathy, can often cause this undesirable side effect. At Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, we’ll do our best to keep you comfortable during these times. Dr. Christopher Williams is an expert in identifying and treating cervical radiculopathy, as well as countless other ailments, in order to enhance the lives of our patients in Atlanta, GA.
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Best Sleeping Position For Neck Pain
Dr. Anis Rehman, Endocrinologist
Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts rigorously evaluates each article to ensure the information is accurate and exclusively cites reputable sources. Learn More
We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
Pain can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and neck pain is no exception. Nearly 10% of people have neck pain and approximately 70% of people with chronic neck pain experience poor quality sleep. Research shows that certain sleeping positions can trigger neck pain and contribute to lower sleep quality.
Quality sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. Physical and mental health, immune function, and thinking are all impacted by a lack of sleep. To experience the full benefits of sleep, experts recommend that most adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
When Should You Call Your Doctor About Your Painful Shoulder
If your shoulder hurts from sleeping on your side at night,Request an Appointment Online or call 305-520-5625.
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