The Worst Sleeping Position For Your Neck And Shoulders

In the US, there's an alarmingly high prevalence of neck and shoulder pain issues. According to the statistics shared on Practical Pain Management, every year 30% of the American adults report neck pain problems. Experts fear that the number of chronic neck aches might reach 50% in the upcoming years.

If you're someone who often wakes up with severe pain in the neck or shoulders, you either have been sleeping on a mattress or pillow with awful support, or resting in the wrong position (via Duroflex). Sleeping in an incorrect position may pose seriously negative consequences on your overall wellbeing. A 2019 study published in the British Medical Journal evaluated the literature available on sleep positions and their effect on posture. They revealed that sleeping in an incorrect position can wreck the alignment of your spine, neck, and shoulders, leading to lumbar or cervical pain. You might also experience a crick in the neck after sleeping in an improper posture, because, at times, even a slightly odd curve, toss, or turn can put strain to the neck muscles, resulting in severe neck ache, warns Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey (OAWJ).

Which sleep position can cause neck or shoulders pain?

According to Mind Body Green (MBG), sleeping on your arm can be a terrible position for your neck and shoulders. During an interview with MBG, Dr. Nishi Bhopal who is a sleep medicine expert, says, "Sleeping on your arm can cause shoulder and neck pain by compressing the nerves in the shoulders and misalignment of the head and the spine." As a result, you might feel numbness in the arms in the morning. If this position continues, you might even develop a condition called tendonitis, which can make your tendons swollen and lead to joint stiffness in the upper limbs, warns Dr. Bhopal.

Additionally, you might also want to be mindful of sleeping on your tummy, as it's known to be one of the worst positions for your spine health, explains Healthline. That's because when you lie on your stomach and move the head to one side, it puts pressure on the neck. This results in misalignment of the spine and eventually leads to pain. Instead, Cleveland Clinic recommends snoozing on your back or alternating sides as they prevent putting pressure solely on shoulders, neck, or arms.