Better Sleep Positions and Treatment for Your Neck
There are better and worse sleep positions for your neck. One of the worst is sleeping on your stomach. When you sleep this way, your back arches, and your head has to twist to the side to allow you to breathe. This puts extra pressure on your neck and shoulders and can lead to pinched nerves. You may not be able to do anything about the position you end up in while sleeping, but you can start your evening in a healthier sleep position. If your body is comfortable from this position, you may be less likely to move to an uncomfortable position in the middle of the night.
Sleeping on Your Back
When sleeping on your back, you naturally relieve the pressure that other positions can place on your spine. You can improve this natural advantage by choosing the right pillow. Back sleepers should choose a flat, soft pillow that is rounded for the space left open beneath your neck, providing it support.
If your pillow doesn’t come with this type of neck support, you can tuck either a neck roll or a rolled-up hand towel into your pillowcase for the same kind of support. You can also use a feather pillow, which conforms to the space left between your neck and your mattress. Feather pillows break down over time, so if you choose this option, be prepared to replace your pillow every year or so.
Sleeping on Your Side
Watch out for pillows that are too high or too stiff—these can overextend your neck and cause pain. Side-sleepers should choose a pillow that is higher in the neck than the head, which will keep your spine aligned in a more natural position. A traditional pillow can work too if it’s made of memory foam, which allows your head to sink in while still providing neck support.
If you do happen to wake up with a sore neck, an over-the-counter pain reliever along with rest should take care of it.