Millions of people suffer from neck pain and tension after sleeping and start the day feeling little refreshed despite getting enough sleep. Here you can find out what causes the painful muscle problems in the morning and what simple tips you can use to prevent tension or provide quick relief.
Table of Contents
- Neck pain in the morning
- Causes of neck pain after sleeping
- Tips against neck tension after getting up
- Preventive measures
- Tips for immediate help
1. Neck pain in the morning
Neck pain and tension are widespread and a common phenomenon, especially in the morning. It is estimated that one in three suffers from painful tension in the neck area at least once a year and we are all familiar with the feeling of waking up with a stiff neck, unpleasant pain when moving or even a headache and having to start the day more exhausted than refreshed. As a result of the uncomfortable night, we not only suffer from pressing, stabbing or pulling neck pain during the day, but also feel physically restricted or struggle against the consequences of poor sleep, for example tiredness, lack of energy or problems with concentration and attention. An uncomfortable night also affects sleep itself, because the tension in the morning is often not only the result of a lack of regeneration, but in turn can be a main reason why we do not get the rest we deserve despite a sufficiently long night's sleep.
The causes of muscular tension in the neck area are varied and are also related to whether the symptoms already exist before going to bed or only occur after sleep.
2. Causes of neck pain after sleeping
Wrong sleeping position / unhealthy sleeping posture
One of the most common causes of neck pain after sleeping is an inappropriate sleeping position at night. Staying in a certain position for too long can have a negative impact on our back and neck. A natural and healthy position of the body and especially the head, neck and shoulder area is therefore fundamental for a restful sleep and makes a decisive contribution to ensuring that our muscles can relax at night. Only then can the muscle cells and muscle tissue be rebuilt during sleep and damage to cells or fibers repaired. For a healthy sleeping posture, the shoulders and cervical spine should be at right angles to one another and the head and spine should form a straight line all the way to the pelvis.
Our pillow, the mattress and our preferred sleeping position determine the posture in which we spend the night and how particularly our sensitive cervical spine is positioned during sleep. The wrong pillow and a mattress that is too firm or too soft can lead to buckling or compression of the cervical vertebrae, increased pressure on the lumbar spine and uncomfortable muscle tension. This means that sleep is less restful and neck tension in the morning is almost inevitable.
Lack of movement/mobility
We humans are simply not designed to sit still for hours and without exercise our muscles cannot adequately supply themselves with oxygen and nutrients. A lack of movement or incorrect posture in everyday life often means that our joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons do not function optimally and stiffness, tension or pain occurs more quickly. This not only affects our well-being, but also our sleep! Especially at night, a lack of physical relaxation gets in the way of sleep itself and all the important recovery processes. Numerous studies also show that regular exercise and sporting activity during the day have a positive effect on our sleep and help us fall asleep. You can find out more about this in this article from our sleep magazine.
Stress & lack of relaxation
We all know that a lack of relaxation and persistent stress have a negative impact on sleep, make it difficult to fall asleep and disrupt the natural sleep process. This also prevents the energy stores in our muscle cells from being filled and the muscle tissue from being sufficiently regenerated. In addition, internal tension, restlessness, fears and depression can also contribute directly to tension and tension in the neck muscles and lead to pain in the neck and head area even before going to bed.
Bad sleeping environment
An unsuitable sleeping climate and drafts promote the development of colds and can also cause painful muscle tension. At night we lose a lot of heat and moisture through our skin and our breathing. If a cold draft hits sweaty or damp skin, it can quickly lead to a stiff neck and painful blockages, especially in summer or when using air conditioning and fans.
3. Tips for neck pain after getting up
#1 Keep moving
Depending on your everyday life, job or state of health, it is not always easy to get enough exercise during the day. To prevent muscle tension or joint stiffness, you should still try not to stay in a certain position for too long and especially avoid sitting or standing for hours. This works best if we regularly integrate short breaks, walks or sport into our everyday lives and often take the stairs instead of the elevator.
#2 Reduce stress
Stress and inner restlessness prevent relaxation in the evening and quickly lead to a tense posture, which creates tension and blockages overnight. Especially in the evening, it is important to leave everyday stress behind so that your body and mind can calm down and slowly prepare for sleep. You can read some tips for relaxing before going to bed here.
#3 Choose the right pillow
A healthy and comfortable sleeping position contributes significantly to feeling rested in the morning. The pillow determines the position of our head while we sleep and, at best, ensures that our sensitive cervical spine is well positioned and protected at night. This allows the muscles, ligaments and tendons to relax and reduces pressure on our bones and joints, enabling pain-free sleep and preventing the development of headaches, stiff muscles or severe tension in the head, neck and shoulder area.
We give you helpful tips for finding a pillow that is perfect for you in the following articles in our sleep magazine: Your pillow guide | The optimal pillow height | Which sleeping position is the best?
Tips for immediate help against neck pain
#1 Heat & Massages
Warm and gentle massages promote blood circulation and loosen muscle tissue. In this way, sticky fascia and muscle fibers can be relaxed and painful tensions can be gently released. In the evening before you go to bed or if you have acute pain in the morning, you can combat neck pain with a warming balm, small cherry stone pillows or a hot bath as well as gentle massage movements.
#2 Stretching, loosening and stretching exercises
Light stretching or relaxation exercises can not only be used as a preventive measure, but can also help to activate the body immediately after getting up and slowly warm up the muscles again after a night of inactivity. A short stretch in the morning can be very effective in mobilizing the spine and loosening tense muscle tissue. In this way, the circulation is slowly increased, the blood circulation and metabolism are stimulated and we can become awake and active more quickly. And even if you don't have much time when you get up: Some quick basic exercises can be safely integrated into your (evening and) morning routine and can simply but effectively help combat nasty neck pain after sleeping .
Neck pain in the morning is widespread and can often be attributed to an unhealthy sleeping position, an unsuitable pillow, a lack of daily exercise, stress or a poor sleeping environment.
To prevent neck problems in the morning, you should keep moving during the day, reduce stress and adopt a healthy sleeping position at night with the right pillow.
Heat treatments, massages and simple relaxation and stretching exercises help to relax in the evening and to combat acute tension after sleeping when you get up.
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