How to Fix a Stiff Neck After Sleeping

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Saturday February 18, 2023

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You try to start every day on the right foot, but waking up with a stiff neck can ruin your morning flow. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage your pain and loosen those tight muscles so that you can still have a great day. This article will cover some of the ways you can fix your neck when you wake up feeling stiff.  

Why Did I Wake Up With a Stiff Neck? 

Your neck’s muscles exert energy to move it from its resting position. Like any other muscle, overuse can cause strain. 

A strain can occur when you’re sleeping when the muscle stays in the same flexed position for too long. So, sleeping in certain positions can stress your neck muscles to the point that they feel stiff and sore in the morning. 

The best sleeping positions keep your entire spine, including your neck, in its natural position. Sleeping without proper support for your spine’s natural curves or with your neck twisted can strain your muscles. 

While it’s less likely, you can also strain your neck from a sudden movement in the night. Involuntary twitches may tweak your muscles or ligaments. You could also hurt yourself by bolting for the snooze button, so take things slow in the morning.   

What Can I Do About My Stiff Neck in the Morning? 

If you woke up with a stiff neck, there are several ways you can try to manage the pain throughout the day, such as: 

1. Ice and Heat

A little cold and heat can go a long way toward soothing your neck pain. 

Start by holding an ice pack on your neck for around 20 minutes. The cold will cause your blood vessels to contract, which reduces inflammation and has a numbing effect. Take a break for 20 minutes before applying the ice pack for another 20 minutes. 

Use ice exclusively for the first two or three days after straining your neck, then switch to heat. 

A hot pack will dilate your blood vessels to increase blood flow to your neck. Blood cells carry the oxygen and nutrients your muscles need to heal. Apply moderate heat to the back of your neck for roughly 15 minutes at a time. 

2. Over-the-Counter Medications 

Taking over-the-counter medications can reduce inflammation and minimize your pain. Some of the best painkillers for the job include ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen. Always use over-the-counter painkillers according to their directions. 

3. Neck Stretches 

When in doubt, stretch it out — but only when the pain reduces enough for you to stretch without causing more harm. Here are a few helpful neck stretches you can add to your morning routine: 

  • Extension: Move your neck down, up, left and right as far as you can without causing pain for five seconds each. 
  • Flexion: Look down for five seconds, lowering your chin to your chest but keeping your head still. 
  • Lateral flexion: With your shoulders and back straight, bend your head toward your right shoulder to stretch the left side, then switch to stretch the right side. 
  • Rotation: Tilt your head to one side, then slowly roll it down and to the other side.  

Now that you know how to fix a stiff neck after sleeping, you can take steps to reduce your pain and be more comfortable after a nighttime neck strain.

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