What Causes Neck Pain From Sleeping?
by Julie Donnelly, The Pain Relief Expert
So many people have asked me “What causes neck pain from sleeping?” I think it’s important to go into this question in depth. If you have neck pain, or you suffer from ringing in your ears, dizziness, or ear pain, there is a good possibility that it may be caused by the way you are sleeping. Your pillow could be the culprit!
If you sleep on your side, and your pillow is too thick, your head is tilted up toward the ceiling for hours. If your pillow is too thin, your head is tilted down toward the mattress for hours.
Take a look at this graphic and it will be clear. Pretend that he is lying on his left side, his pillow is thin, so his head is leaning down toward the mattress. The muscles on the man’s left side are shortened in order for his head to tilt in that direction, and you can see that the right side of his neck has lengthened. As he holds this position for hours the muscles shorten.
Then he turns over in his sleep and the side that had been contracted for hours is now being stretched – except the spasms are preventing the muscle from lengthening and his cervical vertebrae are being pulled out of alignment, putting pressure on his spinal cord and all of the nerves in his neck.
This is what is happening to you if your pillow is too thin or too thick. If you also slightly turn your head to one side or the other you are contracting another important muscle, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short).
Your SCM originates on your collarbone and inserts into the bone behind your ear. When your SCM contracts you turn your head to the opposite side. If you have your head even slightly turned as you sleep, your SCM shortens. When you bring your head back so you are facing forward, the tight muscle will pull on the bone behind your ear and cause havoc.
As the tight SCM is pulling, it causes a strain on the tiny bones inside your ear and you have ear pain, tinnitus, dizziness, loss of equilibrium, headaches, pain in the eye and around the skull, pain at the top of the head, and even pain in the throat. Amazing! What’s even more amazing is that it’s rare that this muscle is considered when a medical professional is searching for the cause of your symptoms.
If you sleep on your back, your head should be on the mattress (not propped up with a pillow) and you should have a tiny support (like a folded washcloth) under your neck, or you can have a wedge pillow that starts at your mid-back and gently raises your entire trunk and head up while still allowing your head and back to be in a straight line.
If you sleep on your stomach, this is the one position that is so bad it behooves you to force yourself to change your position. If you do sleep that way, let me know and I’ll give you some suggestions that work to change your habit of sleeping. It takes time and energy, but the results are worth the effort.
It’s worthwhile to look at how you’re sleeping and adjust it so your head, neck, and spine are in a straight line.
It’s also important to know that you can easily release the tension in all of your neck muscles, so even if you do sleep wrong one night, you can stop the pain before it gets out of hand. If you want to learn how to do easy self-applied treatments to eliminate tinnitus and neck pain suggest you get Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.
Wishing you well,
Neck pain photo http://tinyurl.com/nh5tgoo
Tilted Head neck pain http://tinyurl.com/qz2ds6d