The Best Sleeping Positions for Neck Pain Relief

Neck pain is an extremely common problem that can interfere with sleep quality and lead to daytime headaches, fatigue, and irritability. While there are many potential causes of neck pain, an improper sleeping position is one of the most common culprits. Fortunately, making some adjustments to your sleep position can often provide significant relief. Here are some of the best sleeping positions to try if you suffer from neck pain.

Back Sleeping

Sleeping on your back is often considered one of the best positions for overall spine health and neck pain relief. It helps maintain the natural curve of your neck and keeps your head properly aligned with your mattress. To maximize the benefits of back sleeping:

  • Use a slim pillow that supports and fills in the space between your neck and the mattress without propping your head up too much. Avoid thick or fluffy pillows that overextend your neck.
  • You can also try placing a small rolled towel or pillow under your neck for added support.
  • Be sure your mattress provides adequate support. A mattress that is too soft can let your head and neck dip down, straining muscles.

Side Sleeping

Many people find sleeping on their side to be the most comfortable position. When sleeping on your side:

  • Place a firm pillow between your neck and shoulder to keep your head level with your mattress. The pillow should be thick enough to fill in the gap between your shoulder and head.
  • Draw your knees up slightly towards your chest. This helps maintain spinal alignment.
  • If needed, place a pillow between your knees to prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of position.
  • Use a contoured cervical pillow designed to cradle your neck.

Avoid Stomach Sleeping

Sleeping face down on your stomach is typically not recommended for neck pain because it over-arches the neck and pushes the head to one side. If you must sleep on your stomach:

  • Use a slim pillow under your abdomen and hips to avoid excessive arching of your lower back.
  • Avoid using a pillow under your head, as this rotates the neck.
  • Place a small rolled towel along the top of your pillowcase to allow space for your forehead. This minimizes neck twisting.

No matter your preferred sleep position, pay attention to your pillow height and support. Proper pillow support can make a tremendous difference in keeping your neck pain-free. Experiment with different pillows and positions to determine what allows you to sleep comfortably without waking up with morning neck aches or stiffness.