Late last week, I woke up in excrutiating pain in my neck.  It was literally out of the blue.  I woke up around 1 am with shooting pains.  I was really out of it and spent the rest of the night half awake/half asleep thinking I had just pinched my neck and would be fine once I woke up.  At some point, I shuffled to the bathroom and took a couple of Advil.  I spent the rest of the night wondering why the Advil wasn’t working?

Turns out, I had really done a number on my neck.  I’ve been so busy lately with the kids, work and general life that when I’ve been falling asleep at night (early – like 9 pm, yes, I’m a grandma), I am OUT COLD.  Only thing I can guess is that I fell asleep in some weird position and because I was just so beaten down exhausted, my body didn’t wake me up to tell me I was doing something wrong to my neck.

So Friday morning I woke up with a lot of pain.  I somehow got through the day – which included volunteering at school in the morning and then hosting a birthday party for Cole which involved twenty-one 7 and 8-year-olds running around playing laser tag and dodgeball. (!!!!) And of course because I had to be responsible for them, I was always turning my head.

Do you guys realize how much you turn your head and neck during any given moment?  I had no idea.  It is constant.  Oh – and my head.  Never have I been more aware of how friggin-heavy my head is on top of my neck.  It was like giant bowling ball pressing down on my neck and spine.

Apparently this is a thing.  I shared on Facebook and had lots of “oh yah, I’ve done that” responses and a quick Google search on “slept on neck wrong“ returns over 3 million pages.

But I’ve been doing a lot of research and learned a few things.  It’s most likely that I did this while I was on my stomach.  I definitely am a stomach sleeper.  I used to primarily sleep that way before kids but you guys know how that goes, big pregnant belly, you learn to adapt.  Since having kids, I’d say I spend at least half of the night on my stomach.  It’s apparently horribly bad for you.  I sort of knew this already but not to the extent that I do now.  Back sleeping and side sleeping is best – basically any way your neck won’t have to be turned for hours at a time.

To recap so I remember this in 6 months time when this post is forgotten:  Stomach sleeping is bad.  Side or back sleeping is better.

Also, a supportive pillow is key.  Nothing too fat and nothing too flat. I have a very flat pillow.

If you do this like I did, here are some tips and things that helped ease the pain.  Today is day 5 and it’s the first day I feel I can function although things are still a bit sore.

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Give your family a laugh and get yourself a neck collar.  I got a supportive foam one at my local CVS for $19.99.  It helped tremendously because it gave me some support but also didn’t allow me to turn my head (you forget and turn your head all the time and that hurt!)  {Photo from WikiHow}

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Get yourself a neck pillow.  A friend lent me her airplane travel pillow and the nights I had it were much more restful than the ones before when I didn’t have it!  It helped keep me on my back and also gave me the support I needed to sleep.  I’m actually going to be ordering myself one now like this one above too just to have so this doesn’t happen again, or if it does, I’m prepared.

Gentle massage can help.  I used some Lemon Verbana Oil from CVS that I had reviewed last month. I was very gentle about it but rubbing in circular and then a pulling motion helped to relieve some of the tension.  FYI I didn’t do this until day 3 or so because I couldn’t go near it the first day or two.  I hear essential oils of all kinds can be fabulous for this. (At least, that’s what Twitter told me.)

Acupuncture.  My fabulous acupuncturist was able to fit me on in Saturday, my worst day.  I made the mistake of driving myself (I would NOT recommend that) but once there she helped me gain some mobility back.

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When all else fails, ibuprofen & whatever it takes to ease the pain.  My neighbor gave me a tub of IcyHot and another friend recommended Zim’s Max Freeze.  A warm heating pad helped me too (there’s conflicting opinions online as to whether ice or hot will help – IMO do whatever makes you feel better!  At times, the heating pad was the only relief I felt.)

What I did on my neck still continues to amaze me.  I just can’t believe that with one action, I was able to totally put myself out of commission so intensely.  I’ll definitely be working on some neck strengthening moving forward and trying to find a better way to sleep moving forward.

 

 

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  1. […] in my 20s. The worst culprits are my lower back and my neck. For starters, a couple of years ago I pulled a muscle in my neck while sleeping. That took months, if not years to get better and I still to this day get a little […]

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