Keeping Your Head On Straight While Sleeping

Apr 23, 2019

Have you ever thought that if you didn’t have to sleep at night that your neck or back would never hurt? We have many patients that come into Arvada Sport and Spine Group who suffer from what is commonly referred to as a “stiff neck”. A common scenario the patient describes is:

“When I went to bed I was fine, but when I awoke the next morning I was in a lot of pain and my ear lobe was laying on my shoulder!!”

Often times the way we sleep, the positions we lay in for long periods of time, can be responsible for bringing on muscular imbalance and pain in the neck. Below are some general rules to follow while sleeping:

  1. Most important: NO STOMACH SLEEPING! When we lay on our stomach to sleep we are forced to turn out head in order to breath. This creates muscular imbalances and circulatory changes within those muscles that can lead to stiff necks.
  2. Back or side sleeping is preferable, but keep your arms down. Raising your arms above your head while back-sleeping, or placing your arm under your head while side-sleeping, will eventually cause problems with arms or hands falling asleep. This is usually a result of circulatory changes in the upper extremity and/or pressure on the nerves at the base of the neck.
  3. If you prefer sleeping on your back, we suggest a contoured pillow in order to support the normal posture curve in the neck. And, of course, keeping your arms down.
  4. If you prefer side-sleeping, make sure your pillow height allows your neck to remain supported and in neutral position (“straight”), without your head being tilted up or down. Feeling the need to place your arm or hand under the pillow or under your head while side-sleeping may be a sign that your pillow is too low.

These are just a few simple sleeping suggestions that we offer you so that you can develop better sleeping habits. Sleeping habits can be difficult to change, but if you can adopt these simple rules the chances are very good that we won’t see you in our clinic because your head is on “crooked” because of the way you have been sleeping.

Dr. Gary

Arvada Sport and Spine Group