If you’re reading this post, your neck probably isn’t quite alright.
If there was one advice I could give anyone suffering from any kind of neck pain, tension, discomfort, or anything like that – it would to try sleeping on the floor and sleep without the pillow! (On the floor). You can count this as two pieces of advice. You’re welcome.
Taking care of our bodies is a 24/7 job. You could (and are) hurting your neck in your sleep, if you sleep on an overly soft mattress and use a soft pillow (or any pillow at that). Sleeping in various awkward positions your body has to take to maintain its state on the soft mattress can cause stress to your neck and consecutive discomfort and tension. Those translate into the pain in your neck in the morning. Sometimes, discomfort from sleeping on soft uneven surfaces may take more time to accumulate and reach a point to where you feel pain. You might get there in the next decade, like a lot of people do as they get older.
Lots of those conditions could be prevented by the simple change in sleeping routine. But if you aren’t quite ready for such drastic measures (although honestly after sleeping on the floor it’s sleeping on the mattress that seems drastic, and a torture!), you may be looking for some other things you can do for the health of your neck.
Here are a few more pieces of advice that might help you. Check out the following five tips and tricks that can help you relieve neck pain and tension. If you do sleep with a pillow, make sure that you have a pillow that is adequately-suited to your neck—comfortable, and not too high. It shouldn’t be too soft! The best pillow (if you have to use the pillow) is a narrow, short, hard pillow that only elevates your neck a little bit. (Again, note the disclaimer: I am not a doctor and cannot give qualified advice. If you know of a condition that makes it necessary for you to have a certain type of pillow, please abide by that). Additionally, be sure to get as much rest in the proper places as possible. That is, try not to sleep at your desk, in your chair, or anywhere but your bed if you can avoid it. If you have to sleep elsewhere, such as an airplane, make sure to take a travel pillow for support. That could actually be one place where you do need a pillow!
Other ways to improve your neck health:
1.Reduce Cell Phone and Computer Use
We’ve come to rely so much on technology in our modern world that it’s become hard to look past its benefits. Though making lives easier in nearly every way, the overuse of some of the most commonly-used technology could be having a negative effect on your neck’s health.
You’ve probably heard that you’re on your phone too much. You may even be on it now. And even for those of us who recognise this, a recent British study found that smartphone users generally underestimate the time they spend on their phones and are online up to five hours a day.
Honestly, I feel like I am on my phone and or computer way more than that! Maybe double that much. Cell-phone usage poses health risks to your neck by encouraging negative postural habits. Instead of sitting or standing and looking straight, smartphone users typically assume a slouching posture with the neck bent at an angle. That is in no way a natural posture. So far from it.
Computer users are at a similar risk—especially laptop users who place their computers in their laps. It’s super convenient, and after all, isn’t it why they are called “laptops”? But convenient doesn’t mean natural or healthy. While it may not be easy, possible —or even practical—for us to stop or significantly reduce our time spent online, we can still be mindful of our neck health. Besides, your hurting neck won’t let you ignore it for too long.
In addition to cutting back on how often we use our cell phones, we can also be more mindful of the postures we assume while using them. Instead of placing our phones and computers below our eyes in their laps, users can place their items closer to eye-level. This reduces the need for slouching and bending of the neck. (But be careful about placing your screen too close to your eyes – that could negatively effect your eyesight!) Remember: the best posture for neck support and health is to keep your shoulders back, squared, and with your head forward. Postural abnormalities, even ones we consider minor, can add up to have a serious effect on the health of our necks.
2. Start Yoga
One great thing that I can personally recommend is joining a yoga class. It’s healthy not only for your neck and back, but for many other systems of your body!
Yoga is designed to increase the health of our body and minds through relaxing stretches and exercises. These poses benefit the body by relieving stress and tension. What can be better after a hard day at work? The best part? Virtually anyone can take up yoga! Yes, even you. Even if you’ve never done any exercising in your life. It’s always best to find a quality instructor in your local yoga studio. This way not only can you follow instructions and get feedback on how you are doing, but you join a small community of like-minded people.
However, it’s possible to find beneficial exercises online. It’ll definitely help you save some money, and you don’t have to go or drive anywhere. Hello morning yoga in pajama pants! If you’re doing yoga at home, be sure to be careful and not to do anything to injure yourself. Don’t do more than you feel confident is safe. Take it easy. It’s okay if you can’t do every exercise at first. For starters, try the following exercise. Again, make sure you are comfortable and able to perform it before attempting.
Start by taking a few deep breaths until you are completely relaxed. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Let your head hang naturally. Now start to move your head in a slow circular pattern towards and away from your chest. Stay relaxed and do not force your head into any direction, especially if you feel pain or discomfort. For beginners, it’s always best to find a yoga instructor who can help you perform each exercise correctly. Doing an exercise incorrectly can have negative consequences for neck health, so it’s imperative that you are careful.
If you don’t know where to find a yoga class, check Yelp or other online review sites. Be sure to read about the place so that you can have an idea of what to expect on your first day. Check out their reviews and testimonials – there should be plenty on their website and review sites like Yelp. If you feel uncomfortable going to class alone, see if you have a friend to go with you. If not, this is a great opportunity to meet like-minded friends in class! Having a friend accompany you helps you stick to a yoga routine that is sure to work wonders for your neck!
3. Consider Getting a Massage
For some of us, a massage may seem like a relaxing privilege, but did you know that there are actually several health benefits of getting a massage? Whole body relaxation, muscle tension relief – who wouldn’t want that? A good massage can be particularly good for your neck. By having your neck massaged and tired neck muscles soothed, you will definitely feel better short-term and it can help you stay healthier long-term! If you have such an opportunity and means, visiting a massage place can make sure your neck is as stress-free as possible.
There’s a catch, of course. Make sure to see a licensed masseuse who is trained to deal with neck issues. Though it may feel good, getting a massage from a non-professional may do little to actually help your neck. In fact, it can cause more pain and discomfort, or even an injury. Don’t let just anyone touch your neck! Also consider different styles of massages. Seeing a chiropractor probably won’t be the same as seeing a licensed Chinese masseuse, for instance. You should experiment and find what works for you. Be sure to tell your masseuse of any concerns you may have or if you’re feeling any pain. Again, be careful with what you or anyone else does to your neck.
4. See Your Doctor If You Have Any Concerns
It should go without saying that if you have any concerns about your neck, you should see a doctor. Though it’s possible to make daily routine changes to improve your neck health, realize that some issues can only be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Sometimes neck pain and abnormalities may be signs of a serious infection or illness. Some of these may include swelling, tenderness, pain, or other uncommon symptoms. If you notice severe, abnormal, or lasting pain, swelling, or the inability to swallow, seek immediate medical care. Neck swelling may be because of swollen lymph nodes, indicating infection. It’s also possible for abscessed teeth to spread infection into the throat and close off airways. Only by seeking a medical professional can you diagnose and treat these, or other, conditions. It’s also a good idea to go for periodic check-ups to make sure your health is good. It’s smart to address any concerns or questions you may have about your health or neck during this time. For people with chronic neck pain, it’s great to work with your doctor to create a routine to alleviate symptoms and restore neck health. The key to maintaining health is to always stay one step ahead, so be sure to be mindful of your neck health at all times.
Note: I am not a doctor and do not have professional knowledge of medicine/health of various systems of the body. This article is based on online research combined with personal experience of myself and other people. I do not provide medical advice or any type of guarantee. I also care about your health safety. If you know of a reason that prohibits you from sleeping on the floor, please do not do it. If your doctor told you not to sleep on hard surfaces, please do not do it. (Unless you do your own research and understand the risks for your potential condition.)