woman sitting on mattress with stiff neck
Sleep Health

Stiff Necks No More - 6 Easy Remedies

    Last Updated
    April 5, 2022
    min read

    Mornings can be beautiful when you wake up refreshed and rested, but a stiff neck can easily ruin even the greatest of nights of sleep. Does that mean you’re doomed to bear it while trying to get through the motions of daily life? Not necessarily.

    There are many quick fixes and remedies for neck stiffness. Read on to find out about some of the easiest things you can do to relieve neck strain.

    What Causes A Stiff Neck?

    Almost everyone has experienced neck pain at some point in their lives, but what causes it?

    Because our necks contain a combination of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bone, there are many reasons a person might experience acute pain in their daily life. However, it mostly boils down to overuse due to strenuous activities, general exhaustion, or poor posture.

    That said, there are a few other reasons a person may experience neck stiffness. If the stiffness is accompanied by numbness or shooting pains in your chest or shoulders, you may want to seek medical attention or contact your healthcare provider.

    How To Relieve A Stiff Neck

    Sore neck muscles can really impact a person’s quality of life, so it’s only natural to seek easy solutions and remedies. Luckily, there are plenty of easily accessible options when managing neck pain. Here are a few things you can do to resume your normal activities as soon as possible.

    1. Exercise And Gentle Stretches

    Our first tip is the most obvious one: engage in a little bit of gentle stretching to speed up the healing process. It might be tempting to stretch your neck as far as it can go, but patience is vital when dealing with muscle strain. Aside from a round or two of gentle stretching, you might want to consider doing a few additional exercises to restore mobility. Many health care providers suggest engaging in a simple therapeutic exercise routine that you can do at home. Here are some moves you can perform at home:

    • Roll your shoulders back and down - 10x
    • Squeeze shoulder blades together - 10x
    • Push your head backward onto a car headrest and hold for 30 seconds.
    • Touch your ear to your shoulder - 10x on each side

    While these might not bring instant and complete relief, going through the motions may keep some of the pain away. If you also experience shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, other stretches like child's pose and the doorway stretch may provide additional relief.

    2. Get A Massage

    When at-home neck stretches don’t work, and the neck pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, it might be time to get some professional help. If you suspect the stiffness might be caused by tight muscles, we recommend seeking out the nearest massage therapist and booking a session.

    If this is your first time, be sure to communicate with your therapist throughout the massage. That means letting them know where it hurts and giving them feedback if the pressure is too much or too little for you as they knead out those tough tissues.

    3. Try Acupuncture

    If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t get squeamish at the idea of needles, alternative treatment like acupuncture might be an excellent option for you. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help relieve neck soreness for short periods of time. However, if your common neck pain lasts longer than a few days, you may want to seek traditional medical care instead.

    4. Consider Chiropractic Care

    If you start feeling acute pain in your neck joints, chiropractic neck adjustments may be all you need. Be warned, though – you’ll end up coming back again and again because of how effective chiropractic care can be.

    5. Apply Ice

    One of the most common at-home stiff neck remedies is using temperature to manage the pain. Ice treatments can manage swelling caused by straining during physical activities. This is especially effective during the first 48 hours after straining your neck since bodily swelling tends to happen earlier on.

    A word to the wise, though: when using ice treatment for neck pain, be sure to cover your ice pack or with a cloth and take frequent breaks after 20-30 minutes of application. This helps prevent frostbite.

    6. Apply Heat

    Swapping ice packs out for hot compresses can be just as effective. However, ice and heat therapies have different functions, and knowing the difference can help you make the right decision.

    Cool compresses help with swelling and short-term pain, while hot compresses assist with blood flow and getting nutrients to the rest of the body. A warm shower works the same way.

    In short, warm compresses can help right when you’re climbing out of bed to warm up the soft tissue in your neck. You can also combine this with over-the-counter pain relievers for a powerful start to your day.

    Avoiding Neck Pain

    The best remedy is prevention, especially with strain in your neck muscles. Luckily, most prevention strategies are relatively simple and easy to implement. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your neck from getting stiff and painful in your day-to-day life:

    • Maintain correct posture: Whether you’re reading a book while prone in bed or sitting at your computer, you should mind your alignment. Poor posture is one of the most common causes of inflamed muscles in the neck area, and maintaining the correct posture is such an easy fix.
    • Keep your stress in check: Emotional stress can lead to unneeded tension in our bodies, and leaving it unmanaged results in physical pain, too. If neck soreness is a constant issue, you may want to sit back and unwind every now and then.
    • Find a comfortable sleep position: Bad posture can seep into every part of our lives, including sleep. Ensure your spine is perfectly aligned with the right pillow so you can get quality shuteye without neck soreness in the morning.

    Make Stiff Necks A Thing Of The Past

    Almost everyone experiences a stiff neck now and then after sleeping in an awkward position, but that doesn’t mean they have to sit in pain all day. There are many simple at-home remedies to manage neck pain, but the best solution is simply optimizing your sleep space.

    Are you ready for a neck pain-free life? Check out our guide to bedroom furniture and take a peek at our selection of comfortable pillows.

    Purple Harmony Pillow

    Head and neck support with airflow design to keep you cool.Hugging Purple Harmony


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.