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Neck pain after sleeping? Cause and solutions

You wake up in the morning and ohhh… It’s the first thing you feel: that neck. If you gently move your head from side to side, you can even hear it crackling in your neck. Like walking on a shell path. What causes neck pain and what can you do about it?

What Causes Neck Pain After Sleeping?

About thirty percent of the Dutch people sometimes suffer from neck complaints. Extremely annoying and often it doesn’t just stay with a sore neck, but you also get painful shoulders, headaches or even the neck pain radiates to your hands and arms.

Neck overload

Neck pain is often caused by overexertion. And by that we mean that your neck has an unfavorable position for a longer period of time. Just think of working behind the computer where you don’t pay attention to your posture or the sore neck that arises after hours of painting your ceiling. Another good example is falling asleep on the couch or on the plane with your neck in an unfortunate position, so you can hardly move your head when you wake up. And that way, without noticing it, you can also overload your neck when you are quietly snoring, so that you wake up with a stiff neck after sleeping.

Wrong sleeping position

Do you wake up with neck pain and are you a stomach sleeper ? Then we have bad news for you. Although, news… you probably already know that the prone position is the worst sleeping position for your neck. If you lie on your stomach, your neck is twisted anyway and that position already causes an overload that makes your neck muscles feel stiff and painful in the morning.

There are tricks that could help you to stop sleeping on your stomach. One is the tennis ball method. To do this, sew a washcloth onto the front of your sleep shirt, into which you put a tennis ball. This makes stomach sleeping very uncomfortable.

A little less spartan is the use of extra pillows, which make it more comfortable to lie on your side and more difficult to turn on your stomach. If you lie comfortably on your side and put a pillow against your stomach and put a pillow between your knees, you will find that you can lie on your side quite comfortably and it will become more difficult to turn on your stomach in your sleep. There are also special pillows for this on the market under the name of positioning pillow.


Well, stress is not only a psychological problem, but can also cause a lot of physical misery. There are countless causes of stress: money problems, a complicated relationship, a busy job with many responsibilities and so on. If you are stressed during the day, it can be harder to relax at night. That’s because of your sympathetic nervous system. Simply put, that nervous system is a kind of survival mechanism. It is switched ‘on’ as soon as you are ‘in danger’ and it increases your muscle tension and therefore the tension in your neck. Super useful if a dangerous beast is approaching you, because the increased muscle tension allows you to run away very fast. But if you’re under a lot of stress during the day, that sympathetic nervous system stays on, which keeps your body in a tense position all the time. And that is revenged by, among other things, painful muscles and tension in your neck.

How can you ensure that you do not lie in bed in that tense position, but become completely zen when you crawl under the wool? If you read the piece above, you already know it: relax very consciously. Try to insert moments during the day in which you can completely relax and not be busy with all the fuss or worries. For one this is half an hour of sports and the other prefers to meditate. Do what suits you.

If you like to exercise, it is better not to do it right before going to sleep. In the evening, just before going to bed, it is better to do sleep meditations , such as Mindfulness or breathing exercises. You can find countless of them on the internet.


But even if you are a very relaxed person and you are sleeping very relaxed on your side, you can wake up due to pain in your neck. Chances are this has something to do with your pillow or mattress. Do you sleep with a pillow that is too soft or too hard? Or does your pillow always end up on the floor and do you sleep without a pillow? And what about your mattress? Which type should you choose if you often have pain in your neck? Also read all about the best mattress for neck complaints and take a look at the Morningstar Stellar mattress .

Need personal advice about the best mattress for neck complaints?

Are you still unsure which mattress to buy to prevent neck complaints? Call, email or app today for personal advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get rid of neck pain after sleeping?

First of all, try to find out where the problem comes from. Do you experience stress or is the burden caused by overload? It is also possible that you are lying incorrectly due to an old or incorrect mattress and/or pillow. You can remedy the latter with a search for the right mattress for you and tension can often be solved very simply with relaxation exercises. In severe cases, consult a therapist.

What Causes Neck Pain After Sleeping?

Neck pain after sleeping can have various causes. Think of wrong sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach is especially bad for your neck. Causes such as stress and overload can also cause neck pain after sleeping.


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