Sleeping Our Way to a Healthier Neck
Neck pain ranges from minor irritation to debilitating, life-altering intensities. It can originate from various anatomical components, including sore muscles, torn ligaments, degenerative joints and disc herniation. Severe cases may require long-term use of pain medication or invasive procedures such as nerve blocks or spinal fusion.
A recent article published by Harvard Medical School offers simple guidelines that help avoid future neck problems and, in some cases, reduce, relieve or alleviate neck pain.
- Sleep on the back or side. Try to avoid sleeping on the stomach, as this requires the head remain turned to one side for long periods of time.
- When sleeping on the side, keep the neck and head in alignment with the spine. A pillow that is too thin will cause the head to hang down; too thick and the head will be deflected up toward the ceiling.
- When sleeping on the back, the head should be only slightly elevated and the pillow should maintain the neck’s natural backward curvature. A common underlying cause of eventual disc degeneration and arthritis in the neck is loss of this curvature. Losing this curve results in the full weight of the head driving downward onto the neck.