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When Sleeping On Your Stomach Becomes A Pain In The Neck: 3 Drug-Free Solutions

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Are you a devout stomach sleeper? If so, you may be one of the many stomach sleepers who suffer from chronic neck pain. Although there are a multitude of causes, neck pain can often be contributed to one's sleeping position. Stomach sleepers place stress on the neck and spine as they turn their head to one side. This may eventually place the spine out of alignment, leading to a sore neck or a more serious problem such as a herniated disk. If you believe sleeping on your stomach is giving you a pain in the neck, here are 3 drug-free ideas for a quick and easy fix:

1. Check Your Pillow

If your pillow has lost its form and shape, replace it at once. However, if you've been sleeping on a high or overstuffed pillow, or you've been using two pillows, your head may be too elevated. This may be causing more strain on your neck muscles.

Try using a very thin memory foam pillow designed specifically for stomach sleepers. This type of pillow conforms to the contours of your neck, and the thinness will help keep your head and neck aligned with your spine. A feather pillow is another good choice, as it also conforms to your neck shape. You might also place a pillow under your pelvis area as you sleep, to help keep your spine aligned. You may find that not using a pillow at all is even better.

2. Consider a New Mattress

In order to avoid neck pain, stomach sleepers need a mattress with proper support. Consider a mattress with medium-firm support. Mattress manufacturers often rate firmness on a scale system, with a 10 being the most firm. Look for a mattress that is rated somewhere in the middle, depending upon your personal comfort level and preference. Anything too soft will cause your mid section to sink into the mattress, placing strain on the spine and neck.

3. Retrain Yourself to Change Your Sleeping Position

When all else fails and you're still experiencing neck pain upon awakening, you might want to transition away from your usual sleeping position. It may feel awkward at first, but retraining your body to stop sleeping on your stomach may be your best solution. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

  • Ask for Support: Support from your spouse or significant other may keep you on track. Ask him or her to gently prod you if you subconsciously roll onto your stomach while sleeping. This will remind you to stay on your side or back.

  • To encourage side sleeping, use a full-length body pillow: This also allows the sleeper to drape their arms around the pillow, offering similar warmth and comfort to sleeping on one's stomach.

  • Use Your Marbles: In the literal sense, using your marbles (or one marble, at least) may help you transition. Simply tape a marble to the middle of the chest area, on the outside of your pajama top or sleep shirt. Now whenever you roll onto your stomach during sleep, the discomfort will prompt you to roll back onto your back or side. After a while, you'll retrain yourself to a new and improved sleeping position that will be better for your neck. 

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