Almost everyone has experienced neck pain from sleeping wrong at one point in their life. As someone who has two herniated discs in their neck, I have experienced neck pain from sleeping wrong many times in the past. I often wondered, how long does neck pain last from sleeping wrong?
Neck pain from sleeping wrong will generally last about a week, but can usually be gone within 24 to 72 hours after applying treatments often. These treatments will usually include ice and heat therapy, light stretching, and rest. If the pain is still the same or has gotten worse after a week, it is highly recommend to consult with a doctor for a diagnosis.
Usually neck pain from sleeping wrong will occur because when you sleep in a bad position, it puts pressure on the local nerves around the neck. This pressure causes pain and inflammation, such as swelling. The inflammation can have the effect of causing further stress on the nerve. This inflammation will of course end up making the problem worse.
Usually its recommended when this happens to do what I stated above, you can generally take a dose of ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine like Advil and use ice to reduce the inflammation you are feeling in the affected area of the neck. Once the inflammation reduces, the pain will too. Like I mentioned above, if the pain does not go away after a week, we recommend speaking to a doctor immediately.
Since I’ve experienced neck pain from sleeping wrong so many times in the past, I have learned a lot from research, along with trial and error to develop a method I go through to heal this pain. Lets go over the home treatments I go through every time I wake up with neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Ice and Heat Therapy
For this one, I’ll start by applying ice to the affected area for 15 to 30 minutes and holding it. I usually like to use ice cubes and try to have the ice cubes directly on the affected area instead of having the towel or piece of paper covering the cubes. I’ll just make an opening in the tissue I use so I can have the ice directly touching the area, for more of an effect. This is not required, but a personal preference.
Next I’ll generally do a hot shower, you can also do warm if you like, this will be my form of heat therapy, I’ll generally make sure the water is hitting the painful area of my neck. Usually neck pain from sleeping wrong will cause inflammation in that area of the neck. I’ll usually stay in the shower for at least 15 minutes, sometimes up to 30 minutes just to relax and help loosen the muscles in my neck using this heat therapy. This will greatly help the recover of your neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Next, since I am generally very busy and don’t want to deal with the neck pain from sleeping wrong, I will take some pain relievers or use a cream to relieve the pain. Usually I use Tylenol or Advil for a pill, I’ll take 2. If I don’t use pills I will just use the pain reliever creams such as Tiger Balm or Bengay. Any of these help greatly to mask the pain, but remember, these will only mask the pain, it wont fix it. I still continue to do all of the other treatments I will talk about so I can heal the pain as fast as possible.
Gentle Neck Stretching and Movement
This is very important but you must also be very careful with how you do this, because if done wrong it can cause more harm than good to your neck. It can also possibly damage your neck permanently if you are not careful with what you do.
Generally the stretch I will almost always start with is a simple head movement and tilt in all directions. I will first look left, right, up and then down. I will then tilt my head back, then slowly roll to the left, then forward, and then to the right. I will return my head to normal position and just relax. I’ll do this a few times through the day but very slowly to avoid any injuries or irritations to the neck. If you feel any pain during these stretches I recommend either slowing down or stopping completely and waiting until your neck pain from sleeping wrong has healed.
Once you have waited and rested, hopefully the pain will have reduced and you can begin trying some of the stretches mentioned above, if not, just continue to keep the neck relaxed and comfortable. Do not try to push the neck or overstretch the neck because it will cause more harm than good and it will take longer for your neck pain from sleeping wrong to heal.
Once your neck has gotten better and the pain has gotten reduced, hopefully you’ll be able to do the stretches above. Once you are able to comfortably do those stretches with no pain, I suggest checking the articles below for more detailed stretches to help relieve the pain faster and prevent further neck pain.
Maintain Good Posture
This is extremely important. If you’re like me and you work a job where you sit and stare at a computer for all of your working hours, you need to be aware of your posture. I am constantly correcting my posture and making sure I am sitting with good posture at all times. If you ignore posture, you’ll find your neck pain becomes worse and it will take much longer to heal.
Generally for sitting down I will follow the image above to keep my posture neutral. Try not to look down or up at screens all day, as holding your head in these positions will put extra weight and stress on the neck, this will then cause irritation and inflammation.
I recommend sitting or standing with a good, upright posture, and keeping the head in a neutral position. Also try to stand up and move around or stretch your body from time to time if you’re sitting for long periods of time, this will help keep the blood flowing, especially in your neck this is important. I highly suggest just keeping aware of your posture at all times, you will be glad you did in the future, because this will save you from a lot of pain.
Foam Rolling, Lacrosse Ball Massage, or Regular Massage
This is a more unique treatment and tip you wont find in many other places and for some reason, not enough people recommend these treatments such as foam rolling or lacrosse ball massage. I highly suggest being very careful with this one, because just like stretching, if done incorrectly it can cause much more harm than good.
If you have access to a foam roller or lacrosse ball, usually I will either lay down on the floor or with the lacrosse ball, I can also stand with my back facing the wall. I will then place the foam roller or lacrosse ball behind my neck and gently start my push myself back so my neck rolls on the foam roller or lacrosse ball. I suggest doing this extremely slow and taking your time.
This will help loosen the muscles in the neck and relax it greatly if done correctly. Usually after doing this my neck feels very light and extremely relaxed. The key is to go slow and be very careful when doing it, because like I said, if done correctly, it can bring great benefits.
If you don’t have access to a foam roller or lacrosse ball, a regular massage will be just as good, if you have someone who can give you a massage or you can go and get a massage service, this will help a lot in reducing the stress and tension in your neck, along with loosening the muscles. All of these factors will help speed up the healing process for your neck pain from sleeping wrong.
I know this may seem like weird advice, because you got this neck pain from sleeping and now I’m telling you to go back to sleep? Not quite.
I left this for last because its meant to be done at the end of your day, after you’ve done most of your daily activities, or this can be a normal nap. Generally resting helps quickly relieve any neck pain or headaches I am having. But I left this for last because I want you all to make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night, during this time when you are experiencing neck pain, I suggest going to sleep at least an hour or two earlier. It will help the healing process greatly. I also suggest investing in a better pillow.
One more suggestion, I posted an image above of good positions to fall asleep in and bad positions to fall asleep in. When you are falling asleep, try to keep your body in one of the healthy positions as shown in the image above. This will help you greatly reduce the neck pain from sleeping wrong.
These are all of the treatments I always put myself through anytime I am experiencing neck pain from sleeping wrong. Also, to go back to the question, “How long does neck pain last from sleeping wrong?”, as I said above, it can last up to a week. But I’ve found after doing these treatments often and carefully, my neck pain can go away in as little as 24 hours.
This has been my personal experience and I have two herniated discs in my neck from sports injuries, so the results can be much better for many of you who don’t have injuries as bad as mine. If you do have injuries similar or worse than mine, I am very sure these treatments will benefit you too!
Here are some links to some great resources that I am sure can help you learn more! They helped educate me greatly in learning about my neck condition and I’m sure they’ll benefit you too.