According to Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation, human beings spend approximately 33 percent of their lives sleeping. This amounts to about one third of an individual’s life, roughly the eight hours per day we need to function properly. Because of this, neck pain and other symptoms present during sleep should be considered a priority. Poor neck posture can result in constant stress being placed on the complex structures of the neck which can ultimately lead to complications, causing pain or an increase in symptoms that can lower the chance of improvement.
Risks Of Improper Sleeping Posture
In healthy individuals during sleep, the neck is at an increased risk of damage or injury when the soft tissues become overly relaxed, resulting in strain from poorly controlled movements and improper support while sleeping. For individuals with previous neck disorders, the risk is combined with muscle and other tissue weakness that may have been stretched before.
Types Of Sleeping Postures And Their Effects
Improper sleeping posture is described as a form of continuous stress which can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches. An individual who sleeps on their back with a pillow that is too high, forcing the head forward can create a disruption of the natural curvature in the neck. This position hyperflexes the neck, stretching the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues in the back of the neck. The longer a person sleeps this way, the more damage can be caused, further aggravating neck pain and other sleeping complications.
In the same way, sleeping on your side with a pillow that is both too high or too low can ultimately cause issues with the soft tissues of the neck, affected the structures surrounding the cervical spine, including nerves and blood flow. When the muscles experience sustained stretching during sleep, these are forced to work harder in order to prevent instability of the spine, eventually causing muscle fatigue. This often leads to loss of strength as well as increase the chance of spinal instability which can have negative effects on the deeper tissues of the spine, such as the discs between the neck bones.
Generally, individuals are not completely still while they sleep as the body tends to normally change positions throughout the night, however, it can only take a few moments of poor sleeping posture to cause issues on your neck. In some cases, certain medications allow the body to remain in a single position longer while in other circumstances, such as a draft from a window or ceiling fan, can cause the muscles of the neck to tighten abruptly during sleep, straining the tissues around the cervical spine.
How To Correct Sleeping Posture
In order to sleep effectively while avoiding poor sleeping postures that can cause neck complications, utilizing special therapeutic pillows can greatly help maintain the neck in a more suitable position while sleeping. These types of pillows have separate areas for back and side sleeping which are aligned according to the different sizes and height levels of a variety of individuals.
Regardless of posture, individuals experiencing significant symptoms of neck pain should seek immediate medical attention to properly diagnose the presence of any types of injuries or underlying conditions which may be causing your neck complications. Sleep is essential in order to maintain the body’s proper function and balance, and if neck issues are causing you to lose sleep, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible to prevent other complications associated with lack of sleep. Chiropractic care focuses on restoring the spine’s natural function through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to carefully re-align the spine and reduce the amounts of stress being placed on its surrounding structures as a result of a spinal misalignment. Chiropractic is an effective alternate treatment frequently used by many individuals to treat neck and back pain associated with injury or other conditions.
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Because getting a good night’s rest is important for the body to function properly, treating neck pain and other cervical spine complications which may disrupt an individual’s sleep is crucial. Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors but an improper sleeping posture, where the neck becomes strained during the night, may be the source of many individual’s neck complications. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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