Headaches and Migraines - Can Your Pillow Keep You From Waking Up With Head and Neck Pain?

Do you hate going to sleep because you don't want to wake up with another miserable headache?

Do you think it's amazing that we can do things to hurt ourselves even when we are asleep? I know I do.


Have you ever thought your headache or migraine might be caused by your pillow? Or, that the position you sleep in causes your headaches?

Does your doctor or neurologist just give you medicine for head pain? That's typical because most doctors know very little about the roles of muscles in headaches, neck pain and migraines. They get much more training in drugs than in muscles. As a result, muscles are usually overlooked as a cause of head pain by most doctors.

Muscles which are not supported well can get downright cranky. And, they do. They like to be kept in fairly neutral positions. Aggravate your muscles and they will aggravate you!

So, here are several suggestions to help you get a better nights' sleep and wake up feeling well.

Side-sleepers often tilt their chin to the ceiling or floor. Then your neck is not straight. It's bent, curved sideways. You also squash, overstretch, compress and shorten the muscles on the top, front and around your shoulder. None of this is good for your muscles and they will complain. Ideally, you would learn to sleep on your back with your neck and shoulders properly supported.

Back-sleepers can wake up with headaches, too. If your pillow is too fat it pushes your head too far forward and causes muscle stress or strain in the back of your neck. Those muscles attach to your head. If your pillow is too hard, it won't support the natural curve behind your neck. That also creates muscle strain.

Side-sleepers can buy a special pillow for people who sleep on their sides. It has some "loft" or "fluff" all around but a firm core. This pillow needs to have enough height so your neck bones are straight and supported, and not allowed to curve to the floor or ceiling.

Back-sleepers can use a "shaped" pillow to support the natural curve of their neck. These pillows come in various sizes, although "medium" is most commonly found in the stores. Some are temperature-sensitive foam and are firmer in cold weather than in warm weather. Most seem to be too big, fat or hard for many of our necks.

A soft, flat down pillow ("for stomach sleepers") might also work well for you. Puff up the area that will be under your neck and "pull" the side tails up after your head is on the pillow. The tails will keep you from rolling your head into strange positions that will strain your neck and cause headaches or migraines.

If you can't find a pillow that gives your neck the correct amount of support (not too much and not too little) you can make your own with fiberfill. Buy a batt of fiberfill (fiberfill is the stuffing in quilts) at a fabric store or department. It is very inexpensive. Don't get the loose fill. Be sure to get a batt.

Open the package and unroll the batt. Roll the batt into various thicknesses until you find the one that feels best under your neck when you are on your back. Cut the batt and tape the roll so it will keep its' shape. You might want a flat thickness or two (or three) under your head as well.

Play with the thickness of the neckroll and for under your head until it feels comfortable for you.

You could sew nice covers for your homemade pillow, or you can just do as I do. Put your pillow in a pillow case - no sewing involved.

You might want to make a few different size pillows and switch around to whatever feels most comfortable at the moment.

If your head is far forward ("forward head posture") and it is hard for you to lay flat, you may need to prop your pillows differently to support your back, neck and head without strain.

Headaches and Migraines - Can Your Pillow Keep You From Waking Up With Head and Neck Pain?

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