When a stiff neck develops during sleep, it’s commonly caused by the head resting at an awkward angle, but other causes are possible, such as cold air blowing on your neck.
Here are some tips to avoid a stiff neck while sleeping:
Switch your sleeping position
If you normally sleep on your stomach, consider switching to your back or side. Stomach sleepers put much more stress on the cervical spine, since the head is twisted to the side.
Other options include sleeping on adjustable beds or recliners.
Use the right pillow
Similar to the sleep position, no one pillow type is the best for everyone. If you sleep on your back, consider placing a rolled towel or special ‘cervical’ pillow beneath the neck for more support.
Side sleepers may benefit from placing a pillow between the knees to keep the spine more aligned.
Consider your sleep environment
If you suspect cold air blowing directly on your neck might cause a stiff neck from muscle cramps, make adjustments to prevent that from happening. Pay attention to any nearby fans, vents or open windows.
If a stiff neck is accompanied by a severe headache, fever, arm tingling or weakness, or other troubling symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.