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Are you waking up with a headache or neck pain?

Waking up to a headache or stiff neck pain is not ideal to start your day. Early morning headaches may make you feel unrested and tired throughout the day, leave alone moody. Headaches and neck pain in the morning occurs more often than most. Poor sleep positions can trigger headaches and neck pain. Having a good night's sleep helps the body keep healthy.

Let's start. What is the incorrect sleeping position?

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended as it is tough on your spine. Your back is arched, your neck twisted to the side of the pillow for hours, and this causes stress on your spine.

When you are sleeping, the muscles on your neck are not working as hard to support you as you are lying down. This means when you get up; your muscles tend to tighten and struggle to support the spine and neck.

What is the best sleeping position?

The preferred sleeping positions are often set early in life and can be tough to change, not to mention that we don't often wake up in the same place in which we fall asleep. Still, it's worth trying to start sleeping on your back. In this position, your spine is neutral, and your neck is supported on a pillow.

What is the best pillow?

The type of pillow may also contribute to your headache or neck pain. A pillow should help cushion your head and neck. It is essential to choose a rounded or contoured pillow to support the natural curve of your neck to cradle your head, minimising stress or pressure on your neck.

What are other triggers that affect your sleep?

A tip to prevent getting headaches in the morning is identifying different triggers; sleep posture is only one thing that can affect headaches or neck pain. Other triggers may include:

  • Grinding your teeth at night can cause wear and tear on your Temporo-Mandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in headaches. Some don't even know if they grind their teeth at night or clench chronically. Usually, wear and tear on your teeth is evident and using an occlusal splint will help reduce the grinding and tension in the jaw.

  • Alcohol-related headaches are prevalent, especially from too much alcohol after a big night. Controlling alcohol consumption and hydrating before you sleep will help avoid headaches in the morning.

  • Excess consumption of caffeine can be causing headaches in the morning. Especially drinking coffee later in the day may bring out caffeine withdrawals.

As with so many things, when it comes to neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control. But by improving your sleep posture and eliminating triggers, you can minimise your risk of neck pain and headaches.


  1. Swift R, Davidson D. Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(1):54-60.

  2. Vgontzas A, Li W, Mostofsky E, Mittleman MA, Bertisch SM. Baseline sleep quality, stress, and depressive symptoms, and subsequent headache occurrence in a six-week prospective cohort study of patients with episodic migraine. Headache. 2021;61(5):727-733. doi:10.1111/head.14105

  3. Son J, Jung S, Song H, Kim J, Bang S, Bahn S. A Survey of Koreans on Sleep Habits and Sleeping Symptoms Relating to Pillow Comfort and Support. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(1):302. Published 2020 Jan 1. doi:10.3390/ijerph17010302


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