Neck pain is a common pain condition that develops often in adults, especially women. More specifically, reports show that 15% and 25% of men and women, respectively, ranging in age from 21 to 55 years experience both neck and shoulder pain during their lifetime. This condition often becomes the cause of chronic pain and discomfort. Neck pain from sleeping may seem like a small issue, but there is evidence that a large number of individuals who experience pain in the neck may continue to suffer from it up to six months after the pain has begun. Whether you are waking up with neck pain or pain in the neck prevents you from falling asleep in the first place, here are nine ways to prevent and fix neck pain from sleeping.

Why am I waking up with neck pain every morning?

The neck is made up of seven delicate cervical vertebrae surrounded by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Inside of these vertebrae, the spinal cord, with its bundles of nerves connecting the brain to various parts of the body, is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid. Each vertebra is connected to the other with bony protrusions called facet joints. All of these parts of the neck—bones, muscles, connective tissues—work in conjunction with the shoulders and upper back.

Because of the interrelatedness of these areas of the body, neck pain can be caused by issues that arise in the shoulders and upper back. The most common neck pain causes include:

  • Muscle stress or strain: Muscle stress or strain is one of the most common causes of neck pain. This can occur from improper posture (e.g., text neck) or it may be a result of injury during daily activity.
  • Degeneration of the cervical spine: Over time and with regular use, the cervical spine may suffer from naturally occurring degeneration. This occurs mainly in older adults and may happen in conjunction with some forms of arthritis (i.e., osteoarthritis) or osteoporosis.
  • Facet joint damage: The facet joints that connect the vertebrae are susceptible to damage due to injury or degeneration. This can cause significant and intractable neck pain.
  • Cervical spinal stenosis: Stenosis occurs when the spine becomes compressed and narrows the spaces between the spinal bones and the tissue that surrounds them. This places pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain that is often severe.
  • Bulging or herniated disc: This common cause of neck pain can occur due to injury or simply over time with improper use. Poor posture can result in stress that causes discs to bulge and, eventually, to herniate.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash refers to a quick jolt that causes the neck and head to jerk back and forth. Rollercoaster rides and car accidents are highly associated with the occurrence of whiplash. Whiplash can lead to persistent, chronic pain in both the neck and lower back.

These common causes of neck pain may make it challenging to fall asleep. They can also cause you to suffer from severe neck pain after sleeping. Below we will tackle the most common treatment and preventative strategies for both situations.