Dealing with neck pain all day is kind of the worst. Doesn't matter if you're sitting, walking, or trying to turn your head to gossip with Susan in accounts payable, it's a kind of ache that is irritating and relentless. The worst part? No matter how it is you might have actually pulled your neck, it often seems to get worse over night, and it's possible that your sleeping position has something to do with this. So if you find yourself waking in pain, the best sleep position for your neck might not be the one you're currently enjoying.
And trust me, you're not alone if a pain in the neck plagues you. According to The American Chiropractic Association, the reason neck pain is so common has to do with the flexibility of your cervical spine, which begins at the base of your skull and is made up of seven small vertebrae. The cervical spine is able to move in all kinds of directions while it supports the weight of your head, which is a whopping 12 lbs. on average.
So, if you keep it unsupported while say, looking at your phone, or on an odd angle while you slumber, voila! You've got a crick in your neck.
And as for nighttime, sleeping on your back is always going to be best bet for your neck and back.
This may be bad news for people like me, who sprawl out like a firework on their stomach to sleep, but it's true. Sleeping on your back is the best way to keep your spine in a neutral position, and according to Harvard Health you want to make sure you have a rounded pillow that will support the curvature of your neck. A feather pillow works as a great way to form it to your unique curve, as does memory foam, whatever gives your neck the most supported feeling.
That said, sleeping on your side is another option that can keep your neck supported if you use the proper pillows.
In this case, you will want to sleep with a pillow position that is higher under your neck that where your head lay, like a little bridge, if you will. And the types of pillows you use are a really important part of the equation, you want to make sure you aren't using one that is too high or too stiff, as this will definitely contribute to keeping your neck stiff.
And yes, it's sad but true, sleeping on your tummy is generally the least favorable position for your spine, and for your neck in particular.
It offers the least support to the natural curvatures of your vertebrae, and strains your neck muscles that are working hard to keep your noggin supported. If you can, try to train yourself to move into a more favorable position for the night, but if that seems impossible, use a really thin pillow so your neck doesn't strain.
And another thing to keep in mind while you doze off for the night? Keep your phones out of bed! Not only are the screens not so great for promoting restful sleep, the angle of looking at your phone while lying down puts a lot of excess strain on your neck. As reported on Spine-health.com, "When you look down at your phone, your head may tilt at an angle of up to 60 degrees. This sharp angle produces 60 pounds of force, which in turn strains your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments."
And since so many of us spend so much of our day looking at those dang phones anyway, it's a good idea to just put them down and rest. Your neck, and heck, your brain, will thank you.