As a chiropractor I am frequently asked “Why does my neck hurt when I wake up.?” My first question to them is, “What kind of pillow are you sleeping on?” Flat pillows tend not to have the proper shape that supports your neck. If you are a back sleeper and have a pillow with a neck rolls for support that is great. If you are a side sleeper that kind of pillow can cause neck pain. Feather pillows tend to bunch up in all the wrong places causing you to lose support in all areas of your neck and head. So my reply is maybe you need a new pillow.
How Should You Choose a Pillow?
In terms of comfort and support for your neck while you sleep, there are many options and you may need some trial and error to find what pillow works best for you. As a general rule, it is best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment—meaning, the natural curve of your neck is supported and maintained.
What if I Sleep On My Stomach?
If you are a stomach sleeper, no wonder your neck hurts. No pillow in the world is going to make it better. You need to learn new sleeping habits. Unless you’ve somehow figured out how to breathe through your pillow, you need to turn your head to the side when you sleep on your stomach. That puts your head and spine out of alignment, twisting your neck. You might not notice the damage this causes after one episode of stomach sleeping, but over time neck problems will become evident.
What If I Sleep On My Side?
This is usually the most desired sleeping position because it keeps the spine in the best alignment. You want to make sure not to curl yourself up too much; the spine should stay in a neutral spine alignment from the neck all the way down. You need a thick pillow if you sleep on your side.
What If I Sleep On My Back?
If you are a back sleeper, you need a pillow with a neck roll built in to support the curve in your neck adequately. The roll pillow will allow the head to remain in neutral which means your neck is a little extended. This will keep the tension off of the nerves resulting in less tight muscles when you wake up.
Should I change My Pillow Often?
Remember just like running shoes pillows are very individual and should be rotated and changed often. Sometimes what you like one night does not mean you will like it next week. Try a tempurpedic memory foam pillow or a sleep number cooling memory foam with a neck roll. If you have a sensitive neck you will be well served by changing your pillow at least once a year.
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About All Star Chiropractic
Unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on attempting to treat disease once it occurs, All Star Chiropractic and Rehabilitation emphasizes improving your health in an effort to reduce the risk of pain and illness in the first place. Most people would rather be healthy and avoid illness, if they could. This is one of the main reasons for the big surge in the popularity of our wellness center.
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