sleeping position neck pain migraines

Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain and Headaches/Migraines

After a good night’s rest, one should feel refreshed and recharged to handle the day ahead.  But sometimes sleeping may not be as easy as it seems (I know right, but stay with me) that is all because of pain, specifically in the neck and head. Having a major headache or any type of neck pain will make sleeping a challenge and you may have a fear at the back of your mind that your sleep position may make your pain even worse. Worry not because this article will guide you to what is the best sleeping position for neck pain and headaches so that you can get a lot of rest and feel better in the morning.

The best sleeping position for neck pain and/or headaches/ migraines is on your side or on your back. The whole point of a good sleeping posture is to make sure your spin (which, as you know, is a long extension of your neck) still has its natural curve with all its vertebrates in their correct places.

The correct pillows will do wonders for your sleep and body and they are a great way to help ease the pain of your neck and head. A great pillow is designed to keep your head and neck in place so that your body could even heal itself while you dream away. Check out my best pillows for headaches article.

Can a bad sleeping position REALLY cause headaches and neck pain?

can bad position cause headaches

You may be asking yourself: Can a bad sleeping position REALLY cause headaches and neck pain? And the answer is yes. This can be because you could be sleeping in a position which puts a strain on your neck.

This strain could be caused by having too many pillows or having too firm of a pillow or even having a pillow that is too high (remember you want a pillow to support your neck, in a way to cuddle it, not to unnecessary extend it).  

As for headaches, this can be the result of having insomnia, teeth grinding while you sleep and having the wrong type of pillow that does not support your neck and head and only strains it. Plus, sleeping in a very cold room could also add to the neck and head tension triggering neck pain and headaches.

best sleep side headache

Different Types of Sleeping Positions

There are mainly three types of sleeping positions that people learn from a young age. So much so that breaking out of your current sleeping position may be a challenge but it is not impossible.

These positions are sleeping on your back, sleeping on your sides and sleeping on your front/ stomach.  You can also add some ‘sleep helpers’ such as another pillow under your legs or a towel under your neck etc.

What Is The Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain and Headaches?

As mentioned before the best sleeping position for people who have headaches or neck pain is on their backs. This is because sleeping on your back can give full support (with the right pillow and mattress) to your neck and spine.

Plus, sleeping on your back can help your neck not lean to one side which will curve the spine. You may want to try placing either a thin pillow or a folded up towel under your knees in order to help your neck, spine, and legs be more in a vertical line so that your spine can be in more of its natural position.

However, sleeping my your back may make you snore or if you snore already it may make you snore louder, which if you (or your partner) do not mind then sleeping on your back is the best way to help with neck pain or headaches.

If sleeping on your back is something that you are not comfortable with then there is another position which may be equally as good and that is sleeping on your side.  

Sleeping on one side of your body can also give your neck the support it needs in order to rest and feel better. It’s a good idea to sleep on the side of your neck that is not in pain as much pain as the other side.

Sleeping on the less painful side can allow your neck to move around so that it gets comfortable without feeling more pain. Your spine should be able to curve naturally as you sleep on your side and this position may also be able to help with lower back pain.

There are some things you should keep in mind while sleeping on your side in order to help your neck and headache feel better in the morning.

While sleeping you want to try to keep your body as naturally straight as it should be.

This is done so that your spine can stretch out from your tailbone to your head. Therefore, you would not like to roll yourself up in a small ball since this will not help with your pain.

Having your pillow at the right height will also help this position since your pillow is what supports your neck keeping your spine in a line. It would be a good idea to make sure that your pillow is tall enough to reach and support your neck while you are on your side.

How long does neck pain last from sleeping wrong?

stiff neck sleeping wrong

The answer can depend on what an expert says but generally, you should feel the difference (feel less neck pain) in a few nights (about two to three evenings) of sleeping well on your side with the correct support.

Worst Sleeping Position sore

What’s The Worst Sleeping Position for Neck Pain and Headaches?

The worst sleeping position you could be doing while having a headache or neck pain is sleeping on your stomach since this seems to be the main cause of strain on your neck and back.

This is because your back is arched while your neck is turned to the head (so you can breathe since people do not usually sleep face down in their pillow). Your neck and head are also elevated which makes your spine go into an unnatural position.

If you’re a stomach sleeper then try to sleep on your back or your side. Place some pillows around your body to try to stop it from rolling over on to the stomach or you can usea body pillow to help keep your body in place.

This may take some time to form a habit but it may help in the long run.  

 Is sleeping without a pillow better for your neck?

That’s a common question and the answer is no. Always have a suitable pillow under your head to support it as well as your neck.

neck tension migraines relief


So, what’s the best sleeping position for neck pain and headaches?

How to sleep with neck pain from sleeping wrong is a question which has an easy answer in theory but in practice will take some time.  Good thing you can use some support help with the process such as sleeping with a pillow under your knees while on your back; or having a rolled up towel under your neck while on your back, or having a pillow in between your legs while on your sides.

The best advice would be, if you have a headache or neck pain, sleep on either your side or your back and have the correct pillow to help support your body in order for you to get better and sleep well.

It will take time to learn a new sleeping position but hopefully, this article can put you on the right path to better sleep.