You wake up on a bright, sunny day.
You stretch, you yawn, you turn your neck and then bam! It’s got a kink.
We’re familiar with that sharp, unpleasant pain that makes it impossible to turn our necks in one direction without wincing. And there’s more. There are sore shoulders, stiff backs, achy bones - the list goes on.
A major cause of these back, neck and shoulder pains is a poor choice of bedding which leads to poor posture and of course, pain and discomfort. Many of us are sleeping on pillows or in positions that can trigger muscle and joint pains, or make existing ones worse.
Fortunately, the solutions for this are relatively simple once you have a basic understanding of how your pillow and sleep position affects your body.
How Improper Pillow Use Causes Pain
Your neck, spine and all the surrounding joints and muscles can bend to a tremendous degree. They can absorb shock from an impact, and they can twist and contort in all sorts of ways - just like athletes, acrobats and dancers who can whip themselves into different shapes.
Of course, for the neck, back and shoulders to be so impervious to such forces, they need to be conditioned to a superhuman level - a level of fitness the average person doesn’t possess. So, when the neck gets bent out of shape due to improper sleep posture or a bad pillow, the results are painful.
How and why does it happen? There are many reasons including pre-existing injury to the neck, strain from sitting too long at a computer or nerve compression. But a more common cause for neck and back pain is either sleeping on the wrong pillow or sleeping in the wrong position.
Poor Sleep Posture
When the neck is bent any way for too long, you will get uncomfortable. The muscles become strained (too much pull), which of course, will cause pain. Certain sleeping positions also encourage faulty muscle movement in the neck.
For example, if you’re a stomach sleeper, your neck could easily be twisted to one side for several hours at a time. As we just mentioned, the neck, when bent out of shape for too long, will cause pain in the morning. Also, sleeping on your stomach causes your abdominal muscles to sink into the bed. This throws off your natural alignment and puts strain and pressure on your spine and back muscles.
Now there is a way around this that involves your choice of bedding, which we will discuss shortly.
Using the Wrong Pillow
The other cause of the neck and back strain is not your posture, but your pillow. Think about it: assuming you get a healthy recommended amount of sleep, you spend 7-8 hours resting your head on the pillow. If that pillow doesn't support your head and neck correctly, you will build a lot of tension in your neck.
Then comes the nagging neck pains that spread to the shoulders and even your back. Now, keep in mind that choosing the right pillow boils down to two things:
1) Getting familiar with what your body agrees with most
2) Buying a pillow from a high-quality manufacturer or retail brand
The Fix for a Neck that’s Achy or Stiff
Fortunately, the solution to these two problems is simple (or relatively simple at least).
Fix your sleep position and buy a better pillow. It’s a bit easier said than done, but it’s still possible to get that done. You need to know what type of pillow and what sleeping position is best suited for your unique anatomy. We won’t dive into the subject of sleep positions because it’s largely something you have to experiment with to find your ideal posture.
However, since we’re in the business of making pillows, we know a thing or two about choosing the right one.
Best Types of Pillows for Neck Pain Support
How do you know which choice is right for you? Well, it ultimately boils down to personal preference (what feels best) and what allows you to get the most restful sleep. You should also look at factors such as cost and longevity, and whether a certain type of pillow might aggravate things like allergies.
Nevertheless, don’t hesitate to try different kinds of pillows until you find the one that suits your neck the best. You will know that you’ve found a winner when:
- It feels soft and comfortable
- You wake up feeling refreshed and with less or no neck pain
- You’re in a better mood and have more energy every morning
- It doesn’t break the bank
- It doesn’t cause any allergies or unwanted reactions
In other words, if you don’t feel the need to replace it or do better, you’ll likely have found the right pillow.
A Weight Off Your Shoulders
Neck pain, whether it’s acute or chronic, is a bummer that can dampen your mood and frankly, your life (in the case of chronic pain). Depending on the severity of your pain, you might need to seek medical attention and therapeutic treatment. But in many instances, a simple change in your pillow might be sufficient.
If you deal with constant neck and shoulder pain or tension, consider switching your pillow to one of the options mentioned above. You may begin to wake up with a new pep in your step.