How to Treat a Stiff Neck After Sleeping

How to Treat a Stiff Neck After Sleeping

Are you one of the many people who suffer from a stiff neck?

If so, you’re not alone.

A stiff neck is one of the most common problems people have when they wake up in the morning.

The pain can be unbearable and make doing things like driving or reading very difficult.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat a stiff neck after sleeping.

In this article, I’ll go over the best ways to treat a stiff neck.

But, before I do, let’s take a look at what causes a stiff neck in the first place.

What causes a stiff neck after sleeping?

One of the most common causes is sleeping in an awkward position.

For example, if you sleep on your stomach, you’re more likely to wake up with a stiff neck in the morning.

That’s because when you sleep in this position, your neck is bent forward and compressed.

This can cause the muscles and joints in your neck to become stiff and sore.

Another common cause of a stiff neck is sleeping on a pillow that’s too high or too flat.

If you sleep on a pillow that is either of these things, the muscles in your neck are forced to work harder than they should.

This can lead to a stiff neck in the morning.

In fact, according to Healthline, a pillow that doesn’t support your head and neck properly could be the root of your stiff neck problem.

Other causes of a stiff neck after sleeping include:

  • Clenched jaw at night (Sleep bruxism)
  • Poor standing posture during the day
  • Looking down at your phone or tablet for long periods of time
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Osteoarthritis

How long can a stiff neck last?

A stiff neck can last anywhere from a day or two to a few weeks.

However, the sooner you address the issue, the quicker it will go away.

Now that you know some of the common causes of a stiff neck. Let’s take a look at the best ways to treat it.

How to treat a stiff neck after sleeping

Here are the best ways you can treat a stiff neck after sleeping.

1. Rest

The first thing you need to do is rest.

Since your neck muscle has tightened up, it will be harder for blood flow and nutrients to get into the area that needs them most.

By resting in a comfortable position where the stiff neck isn’t aggravated, you will allow your body to start the healing process.

If you don’t have time for a full day of rest, try taking a break from any strenuous activity and see if that helps to loosen up the muscle.

2. Apply Heat

One of the best natural treatments for a stiff neck after sleeping is applying heat.

Heat will increase blood flow to the affected area and also help to relax your tightened muscles, which can speed up recovery time.

You can use something as simple as a heating pad or hot water bottle.

If you don’t have access to a heating pad or hot water bottle, you can also use a warm towel.

Just apply the heat for roughly 20 minutes, and you should notice some relief!

Soaking in a hot bath is also great for soothing the pain of a stiff neck after sleeping as well as helping to relax your muscles and reduce any tension that may be built up from stress or anxiety.

3. Apply Ice

Using ice is another great way to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with a stiff neck after sleeping.

The ice will help to numb the pain and reduce any swelling that has built up.

The best way to apply ice is by using something like an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel.

Ice should be applied for no more than 20 minutes at a time and take breaks in between.

4. Take a Pain Reliever

If the pain is severe, you may want to take a pain reliever to help get relief.

Many over-the-counter medications can help ease the discomfort of a stiff neck.

Doctors recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

Note: If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a history of liver problems, you should consult your doctor before taking any pain reliever.

5. Gentle stretching

One of the best ways to treat a stiff neck after sleeping is to loosen up the muscles with some simple stretches.

Stretching your muscles can help loosen them up, allowing for better blood flow and oxygenation into that area.

Just be sure to take it slowly and only stretch as far as feels comfortable.

You don’t want to pull the muscles any further than they are already strained!

Here are a few simple stretches that you can do:

  • Slowly turn your head from side to side several times.
  • Roll your shoulders backward and down.
  • Slowly raise your chin up and down.
  • Move the head in a circular motion clockwise several times, then switch directions.
  • Bend your head forward towards your chest, then bring it back up to a neutral position several times.

6. Get a massage

Getting a gentle massage can help loosen up your neck muscles.

It may sound like an odd treatment to use, but it works.

Ask a friend or family member for a massage, or go to a professional masseuse.

Just be sure to avoid any vigorous massaging or deep pressure, as that could aggravate the muscle even further.

7. Reduce your stress levels

When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol which causes the muscles in your neck to tense up.

So if you are feeling a lot of stress and anxiety over something that happened during the day or night before, then it could be causing this stiffness.

If stress is an ongoing issue for you and affects how well you sleep, then you may want to consider reducing your stress levels with some form of relaxation technique.

Some good things to try are meditation, yoga, or listening to music.

You could also take a nice hot bath before bedtime in order to relax your muscles and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Quick tips to prevent stiff neck after sleeping

  • Try to maintain a good posture during the day
  • Use a pillow that supports your neck and head
  • Getting a firmer mattress
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach
  • If you have to turn your head during sleep, do it slowly and carefully
  • Exercise regularly

Final thoughts on how to treat a stiff neck after sleeping

A stiff neck after sleeping can be very uncomfortable and frustrating.

But luckily, you can treat it at home with a few simple treatments like heat, ice, stretching, and massage.

If the pain is severe or doesn’t go away after a few days, then be sure to see your doctor.

Stay healthy!