As someone with two herniated discs in their neck, I used to often wake up with neck pain and wondered how to get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong. After many hours of research, doctor visits, and physical therapy I am happy to be able to share the answer with you in a simple and neatly packed article!
So how do I get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong?
To get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong you’ll want to immediately apply ice to the painful area for 15 to 30 minutes and then take a warm shower to apply heat to the area. After that, move your head around slowly to loosen the muscles. Avoid harmful physical activities that could irritate the neck and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Keep good posture throughout the day and try to keep the neck relaxed and rested as often as possible. The pain should subside after 48 to 72 hours, if you still experience pain, we recommend contacting your doctor.
Lets now go into more detail on how to get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Apply Ice and Heat to the Painful Area
This sounds simple enough, but I want to go into more detail. You’ll usually want to apply and hold ice onto the affected area of the neck for 15 to 30 minutes and you want to do this immediately. Doing this will help reduce any inner swelling and inflammation in the affected area. This will also begin to help reducing the neck pain from sleeping wrong. I personally sometimes will use ice cubes directly on my neck instead of letting the clothe or paper be wrapped around them, I feel it works better to have the ice directly on my neck, if you’re using ice. If you’re using another frozen item, don’t worry about it.
For this, I recommend a nice warm shower, or hot. I usually prefer hot, just out of personal preference, plus it warms the entire bathroom up and it can have a much nicer soothing effect for me personally. Use what feels best for you, but go with at least warm water. Make sure the water is hitting the neck area so the heating effect can happen on the area that is painful. This will help relax and loosen your muscle and help reduce the stress and tension in that area. I recommend doing this for at least 15 minutes.
Another option is you can invest in a heating pad and use that on your neck for at least 15 minutes, this will help reduce the pain and have the same relaxing effect to loosen the muscles. Both methods for heat in the painful area are great for helping get rid of neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Be sure to not fall asleep while using a heating pad or ice on any affected area, you will injure yourself further, we want to avoid any further injuries and irritation to the neck so it can heal as fast as possible. Also be sure not to keep the ice or heat on the painful area for too long because this can cause irritation and can possibly make things worse.
Take Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are great for reducing the pain sensations quickly. I also recommend pain reliever creams as these can also be extremely effective in quickly reducing the pain. This is especially useful for anyone who has a busy day or week and need to focus on their tasks without any distractions such as neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Here are some of the type of products I personally use.
- Advil or Tylenol. Either of these are great for reduce pain and headaches caused by the neck pain from sleeping wrong. I usually take 2 pills and the pain will reduce after 15 to 30 minutes.
- Pain Relieving Creams such a Tiger Balm or Bengay. I’ve used both and both are great. Bengay does have a strong smell to it that can burn your nose, but they work amazingly. You can expect the pain to be reduced or gone after 5 to 10 minutes, sometimes instantly.
Those are the most common type of products I personally use and they almost always help when I need to get rid of the neck pain from sleeping wrong fast and get on with my day. I only recommend these as an option if you need to get rid of the pain fast, but I mainly recommend everyone to use ice and heat first, along with natural methods, because these products will not get rid of the pain and issue, it will still be there. These products will only mask the pain, basically the pain and issue are still there but they’re being hidden temporarily, once the products wear off, the pain will return.
Slow head movements and stretches
I highly recommend trying to slowly move your head through the day but do this very lightly and slowly. Your goal is to slowly start to stretch the neck muscles, as this will reduce the neck pain from sleeping wrong. Do not try to stretch too much or too far because you will end up hurting yourself more and possibly damaging your neck.
Just slowly tilt your head around, look left, right, up, and then down to help loosen the neck muscles. Holding your neck rigid, especially when combining this with bad posture and forward head tilt, can cause neck pain or worsen it. You want to move your neck through its normal range of motion, go as far as you can and stop immediately when you feel uncomfortable. This should help loosen the muscles in your neck and will help with any neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Once the neck pain has reduce significantly and is almost gone or fully gone, I suggest checking out our article below to learn about some great stretches that will help prevent future pain and injury in the neck. These will increase your necks flexibility and make it much less injury-prone.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture can not only speed up your recovery but can also benefit you in many other areas of your life. If you sit and look down or up all day at a screen, your neck pain will become significantly worse. Follow the image above to get an idea of how your posture should be when sitting. As for standing, make sure your stand up straight and don’t tilt your head down, having your head down or too high all day can cause too much weight and pressure to build up on your neck, leading to worse neck pains.
The main reason we recommend good posture is because it becomes especially important when you have any kind of pain, especially neck pain from sleeping wrong. If you ignore posture, you will just worsen the neck pain and slow down the healing process. We want to make sure this neck pain from sleeping wrong goes away as soon as possible. Following good posture rules is a great way to make this happen.
Relax and Rest
Resting by either staying relaxed and not doing any physical activities that could stress the neck or just sleeping would both be great ways to help heal the neck at a much faster rate. Usually when I experience neck pain after sleeping wrong, I try to get some rest as soon as I finish my day at work or some of my daily activities, this will help relieve the pain after I sleep or even take a nap. I know, it sounds like weird advice, you just woke up and we’re telling you to get some rest, this is mainly for after you’ve done everything in the list and did your daily activities.
This also applies during your daily life, like I’ve said multiple times, relax and don’t stress the neck, because you can easily worsen the neck pain from sleeping wrong. If you have physical activities to do at work, try to avoid them by talking to your manager or boss or take the day off.
As for resting, I recommend getting a better pillow to support your head and a better mattress in the future, this will help you avoid neck pain from sleeping wrong. Also be sure to fall asleep in a good position.
I suggest following the sleeping positions in this image and avoiding the ones marked with an ‘X’. Falling asleep in a good position will greatly help you reduce and avoid neck pain from sleeping wrong.
Experiencing neck pain from sleeping wrong can definitely put you in a bad mood when you wake up. I know from experience because I’ve experienced neck pain from sleeping wrong so many times in my life, especially due to the two herniated discs I have in my neck from sports injuries. In most cases you wont have to worry about this neck pain because it is very common and many people experienced this at least once in their lives. All of these tips and treatments are what I follow every time I have neck pain from sleeping wrong and my pain usually goes away within 24 to 72 hours at most.
If you’re still experiencing neck pain after doing all of these treatments for 72 hours, I highly suggest calling your doctor to make an appointment. Your doctor will be the best source of information because they will diagnose your specific situation for your neck pain from sleeping wrong and help you get back to your normal, pain free lifestyle!