How To Sleep With Neck Pain

Figuring out how to sleep with neck pain can be tough. There isn't a magical pillow out there. Most of the time, it comes down to positioning yourself properly.

Best Sleep Positions With Neck Pain

Whether you have neck pain or back pain, the 2 recommended sleeping positions are the same. 

  1.  Back Sleeping
  2.  Side Sleeping

Illustration of proper sleeping positions in side-lying and and on back

Click to learn more about the Best Sleep Positions.

Is It OK to Sleep on Your Stomach?

It is not healthy for your neck or your back to sleep on your stomach.  Sleeping face down requires turning the head and neck to the side for breathing. This causes the joints and tissues in the neck to be compressed for long periods. Overtime, this can lead to wear and tear in the neck. 

man sleeping on his stomach with head turned to the left. Not a good position for sleepStomach sleeping may also cause you to wake up with a kink in the neck. This can cause a sharp or locking pain in the neck. 

Best Pillow for Neck Pain

There are lots of studies on pillows that suggest different things. As a Physical Therapist, I usually recommend that patients have to find what works for them. I give a few guidelines. 

Consider the distance from the shoulder to the ear. With side-sleeping, the pillow needs to be high enough to keep the neck in a neutral position. The neck should be aligned in a straight position with the body. If the pillow is too high or too low, the neck will not remain in a neutral aligned position.

With Back sleeping, the head and neck should be supported to a slightly elevated position. The pillow should support the head and neck, but not stretch the neck while sleeping.

How Many Pillows Should You Use?

The number of pillows depends on the thickness of the pillow. If a softer pillow is preferred, it may squish when the head is on it. In that case, try using more than 1.

Watch this VIDEO to learn more about pinched nerve in the neck.

Neck Pain Exercises

There are simple exercises that you can do to help neck pain in most cases. Click to learn neck exercises you can do at work

If you are interested in receiving physical therapy, visit us at one of our 12 rehab physical therapy centers or three spine centers. Call (904)858-7045 to schedule.

To see a JOI Spine Doctor, call (904)JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. 


Image and title of Ehren Allen DPT COMT content writerEhren Allen - Medical Content Writer

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