For many people, waking up with a stiff neck might be a common occurance, especially during the summer months. This can be a problem for some, because often times a stiff neck can lead to other problems, such as headaches, difficulty moving or turning of the head, intense neck and upper back pain, or even problems swallowing. There could be several different reasons for having a stiff neck, and while most people may pass it off as just "sleeping wrong," perhaps the most common reason is something as simple as a cool breeze!
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Yes, it turns out that maybe the most common reason for people waking up with a stiff or sore neck is from cold air blowing on them while they are sleeping. Often times when people go to sleep, their bedroom may be a little too hot. So they open a window, or turn on the air conditioning or a fan. Any of these options will create a slight breeze throughout the room. Then while the person is sleeping they might toss and turn or do something else to throw their covers off a little bit, so now that cold air is directly on their skin. This causes the muscles to begin to tighten, then later start to cramp up until eventually the spinal joints in the upper back start to lock up. At this point, any movement in the wrong direction can lead to stiffness, muscle spasms, and pain.
Fortunately, while this is one of the most comon causes of a stiff neck, it is also one of the easiest ones to fix. All you have to do is eliminate or at least lessen the cold air in the bedroom! Try some of these steps:
- If you need to open the window, open it as little as possible so that you do not get a breeze.
- If you are using a fan, point it away from you and point it upwards so that the air in the room circulates without blowing directly on you.
- If you have an air conditioner or central air, make sure the vent does not blow on you. If it does, install a deflector so that the air blows away from you instead.
- Wear clothing or use blankets that will cover up your neck better and prevent it from getting cold.
At The Illinois Back Institute we are dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it!
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