Here’s a quick email I received last week from one of our patients David, 59.
“Hi Paul, I wanted to send you over an email as I’ve been concerned about my neck these last few days.
It’s always been a bit sore, but I never thought much of it. However recently, I’ve been waking up and it’s painful to turn to the side.
“I went to the doctor, and he told me it’s due to stress, but I don’t understand how as nothing that ‘stressful’ has happened recently…
“It would be great to know your thoughts to see if you agree, it is starting to affect my day, and I’m finding it hard to sleep now, too.”
To put it bluntly…”stress” is an easy answer to give someone, when they’re not sure what the cause of a problem really is, in this case - neck pain.
Your neck won’t one day ‘decide to be painful’, and cause you troubles with sleeping, and in fact what we discovered with David, is that there was an underlying reason as to why he was waking up this way…
When David came to the clinic, we discovered that his neck pain wasn’t caused by this mysterious “stress” the doctor had told him, but it was brought on by the way he was sleeping!
We found that David was sleeping almost each night in a way that put his body in an awkward position, meaning his posture wasn’t properly aligned.
Many of us aren’t aware that the way we sleep can lead to waking up with aches and pains that can end up lasting throughout the day…
Though poor sleeping positions aren’t always your fault! They can be developed unconsciously from when you were a child, leading to pain later in life when you’re an adult.
The good news is, the way you sleep can be adjusted!
Here’s the exact advice I gave to David, to give him a better nights sleep AND ease his neck pain in the morning:
Invest in a good pillow - If you wake up with a sore or stiff neck, it might be time to trade in your pillow for something better. Having the right pillow will make all the difference between a great night sleep, and a lousy night of tossing and turning.
Pancake flat pillows, and those extra fluffy ones won’t do you any favors. It’s crucial to find a pillow that will keep your neck in a neutral position (straight), so you wake up neck pain-free.
Sleep on your back - Most people with neck pain benefit from sleeping on their back with their neck, and spine in a straight position. Keep your arms relaxed and by your sides (don’t let them wonder into funny positions whilst you sleep like above your head!).
If you find sleeping on your back uncomfortable, place a pillow under your knees to support your back. Raising the lower part of your legs will keep your spine properly aligned reducing the risk of waking up in pain.
We spend a third of our life in bed, so you may was well it a comfy place to be!
If you’d like to discover more ways to ease your neck and shoulder pain, I’ve put together a free tips report for you. Just go here to collect it: http://www.paulgoughphysio.com/neck-shoulder-pain