Neck and Head Pain When Lying Down: Causes and Remedies

Tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position, only to be met with neck and head pain when you finally lay down? It can be frustrating and disruptive to your sleep. In this blog, we will dive into the causes of neck and head pain when lying down, from tension headaches to the wrong pillow or mattress. We will also discuss when you should be concerned about these headaches and explore possible treatment options. Plus, we’ll answer common questions like whether sleeping wrong can cause headaches and what sleeping positions to avoid. Say goodbye to sleepless nights filled with pain and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.


My Head Hurts When I Lay Down on My Pillow…Why?

Headaches when laying down can be caused by tension headaches, migraines, poor sleep posture, an uncomfortable pillow, sinus infections, neck muscle tension, or underlying medical conditions. To relieve the pain, try adjusting your sleep position, using a supportive pillow, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Common Causes of Headaches While Sleeping

Headaches experienced during sleep can be caused by various factors, leading to discomfort and disturbed sleep. Poor sleep posture, wherein one sleeps in an awkward position, can strain the neck and contribute to headaches. Sleep apnea, a condition marked by interrupted breathing during sleep, is also known to cause headaches upon waking. Underlying neck or spinal issues, such as cervical spondylosis or herniated discs, can exacerbate pain while lying down. Bruxism, or teeth grinding during sleep, can result in tension headaches. Sinus congestion, nasal congestion, or sinusitis can cause pressure and head pain when lying down. Using a supportive pillow and ensuring proper alignment of the head and neck while sleeping can help relieve headaches and improve sleep quality.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches, one of the most common types of headaches, can cause head and neck pain when lying down. These headaches are typically triggered by muscle tension and stress. They can be aggravated by poor sleep positions or an uncomfortable pillow. In addition to tension headaches, other factors like migraines, sinus congestion, and sleep apnea can contribute to head pain during sleep. To find relief from tension headaches, it’s crucial to establish good sleep habits, maintain proper posture while sleeping, and use a pillow that provides adequate support. If the severity of the headaches persists or worsens, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options.



Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep, can contribute to neck and head pain when lying down. Lack of quality sleep can lead to tension headaches, migraines, and other types of headaches. The experience of insomnia and the resulting headaches can be exacerbated by factors such as stress, anxiety, and underlying medical conditions. Treating insomnia often involves identifying and addressing the underlying causes, such as stress, and implementing healthy sleep habits. Remedies for relieving neck and head pain caused by insomnia may include using a supportive pillow, practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime, and seeking medical advice if the problem persists.

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression can contribute to headaches while sleeping. The stress and tension associated with these mental health conditions can cause muscle tightness in the neck and head, leading to throbbing pain and discomfort. Additionally, poor sleep quality due to anxiety or depression can increase the likelihood of waking up with a headache in the morning. Managing stress through relaxation techniques like yoga and acupuncture, therapy, and medication can help reduce headaches caused by anxiety and depression. Improving sleep hygiene, such as maintaining proper sleeping posture and using a supportive pillow that promotes neck alignment, can also alleviate headaches associated with these conditions. If symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional to address any underlying causes and explore further treatment options.



Dehydration and changes in blood sugar levels can contribute to headaches when lying down, commonly known as hangovers. The consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation in the brain, leading to headache symptoms such as throbbing pain. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are often accompanying symptoms. To alleviate hangover headaches, it is recommended to drink ample amounts of water, rest, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. Avoiding alcohol in the future can prevent recurring hangover headaches and improve the overall quality of life. In case hangover headaches persist or worsen, seeking medical attention is advisable to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

The wrong pillow or mattress

The discomfort and pain experienced in the neck and head when lying down can often be attributed to the use of the wrong pillow or mattress. Improper alignment of the neck and head during sleep can strain the neck muscles, leading to an increased risk of developing headaches. Additionally, a mattress that is either too firm or too soft can create pressure points, intensifying the discomfort. To alleviate these issues, it is crucial to find a pillow and mattress that offer sufficient support for the head, neck, and spine. Many individuals find relief in using memory foam pillows and mattresses, as they are designed to contour to the body’s shape and provide optimal support, promoting proper alignment and reducing the likelihood of experiencing neck and head pain when lying down.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common cause of headaches while sleeping, leading to reduced oxygen levels in the blood. Along with snoring, daytime fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, these headaches can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Treatment for sleep apnea often involves lifestyle changes, including weight loss and avoiding alcohol before bed. The use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is also recommended. By following these treatment options, individuals can find relief from their sleep apnea-related headaches.

TMJ and teeth grinding

TMJ disorders and teeth grinding are frequent causes of headaches while sleeping. These disorders are characterized by pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint, which can radiate to the head and neck. Grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep can exert pressure on the muscles and joints in the jaw, leading to headaches. Other factors such as tension in the neck muscles and poor sleep posture may also contribute to headaches during sleep. If you experience headaches related to TMJ disorders and teeth grinding, it is crucial to seek appropriate remedies. These may include wearing a night guard, practicing relaxation techniques, and consulting with a healthcare provider or dentist. By addressing these underlying causes, you can alleviate head and neck pain, improving your sleep quality and overall well-being.


Dehydration can contribute to neck and head pain when lying down, leading to discomfort and muscle tension in the neck and head. Lack of proper hydration affects the elasticity of muscles and tissues, increasing the risk of strain and tension. To prevent dehydration-related headaches, it is essential to drink enough water throughout the day. Adequate hydration maintains muscle and tissue elasticity, reducing the likelihood of headaches. In addition to staying hydrated, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, following good sleep hygiene practices, and using supportive pillows or a comfortable mattress can also help alleviate headaches while sleeping.

Medications and supplements

Medications and supplements can contribute to headaches or worsen existing headaches while lying down. Some specific medications, such as blood pressure medications or antidepressants, have the potential to disrupt normal sleep patterns and lead to headaches. Similarly, overusing pain relievers like analgesics or migraine medications can also contribute to headaches during sleep. If you suspect that a medication or supplement is responsible for your headaches while lying down, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider for guidance. They can make adjustments to your dosage or suggest alternative treatments to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Other medical conditions

Sinus Infections, Migraines, and Sleep Disorders:

Aside from tension headaches and dehydration, headaches while sleeping can also be attributed to other medical conditions. Sinus infections, for instance, can cause inflammation and blockage in the sinuses, leading to pressure and pain in the head. On the other hand, migraines are severe headaches that can be triggered by changes in sleep patterns or sleeping positions. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia can disrupt sleep quality, resulting in headaches or migraines. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of your headaches while sleeping and develop an appropriate treatment plan. By addressing these medical conditions, you can find relief from neck and head pain, improve your quality of life, and promote better sleep.

When to be Concerned About Headaches While Sleeping

Experiencing neck and head pain when lying down can be a cause for concern. While it can be attributed to common factors such as poor sleeping posture or an uncomfortable pillow, there are serious underlying medical conditions that may also be responsible. These conditions include sleep apnea, migraines, and even brain tumors. It’s important to pay attention to the severity and frequency of the headaches, as well as any accompanying symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or vomiting. If you find that the headaches persist or worsen over time, it is recommended to seek medical attention to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Addressing these concerns can greatly improve your quality of life and overall well-being.

Possible Treatment Options

When seeking relief for neck and head pain when lying down, there are several possible treatment options to consider. It is crucial to identify the underlying cause of your pain, whether it is related to poor sleep posture or an underlying medical condition. Making adjustments to your sleep position or using supportive pillows can aid in pain relief. Incorporating relaxation techniques and stress management practices can help reduce tension in the neck and head. physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer targeted exercises and adjustments to alleviate discomfort. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. Remember to prioritize your health and seek professional guidance.

My head hurts when lying down. Can I get a headache from sleeping wrong?

Yes, it is possible to develop a headache from sleeping in an awkward position. Poor sleep posture can strain the muscles in the neck and head, leading to headaches. Using a supportive pillow and maintaining proper alignment while sleeping can help prevent this. If headaches persist or worsen, seek medical advice.

What’s the best sleeping position to avoid headaches?

The optimal sleeping position for headache prevention is on your back with a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. Avoid stomach sleeping to prevent neck strain and headaches. Side sleeping with a supportive pillow can also help, but ensure your spine remains aligned. Try different pillow heights and firmness to find the best position for headache prevention.

Can the type of pillow I use cause headaches?

Certainly! The type of pillow you use can indeed contribute to headaches. Using a pillow that is too high or firm can strain your neck, leading to tension headaches. It’s important to choose a pillow that offers proper support and aligns your head, neck, and spine. Experiment with different types, like memory foam or cervical pillows, to find the best fit for you.

Is there such thing as a migraine sleep position?

While there isn’t a specific “migraine sleep position” that guarantees relief, maintaining a comfortable and supportive sleeping position can help alleviate head and neck pain. It’s recommended to sleep on your back with a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. Experimenting with different positions and pillows can help find what works best for you.

Which sleeping positions should I be wary of?

Sleeping on your stomach strains the neck and can cause head pain. Using too many pillows or a high pillow can also contribute to neck and head pain. Side sleeping with an unsupportive pillow leads to misalignment and discomfort. The best position for neck and head pain is usually on your back with a supportive pillow.

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can lead to strain on your neck and head, causing pain and discomfort. The misalignment of the spine in this position often results in morning headaches. To prevent yourself from getting morning headaches, it is essential to change your sleep position. Using supportive pillows can also help alleviate the pain associated with sleeping on your stomach. Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime may help reduce the severity of the headaches. If the pain persists, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options. Understanding the underlying causes of neck and head pain when lying down is crucial in preventing future discomfort.

Putting your arm over your head

Putting your arm over your head while lying down can contribute to neck and head pain. This sleep position, often used by individuals seeking a comfortable position, can actually cause strain on the neck and shoulder muscles, leading to discomfort and stiffness upon waking up. It can also affect circulation to the head, exacerbating any existing pain. In addition, this sleep position may contribute to headaches, including tension headaches and migraines. To alleviate neck and head pain associated with this sleep position, it’s important to maintain a neutral position while sleeping, avoiding any unnecessary strain on the neck muscles. Using a supportive pillow that helps maintain proper alignment of the spine can provide relief and promote better sleep quality. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or gentle stretching before bed, can also help relieve any tension or stiffness in the shoulder and neck area. In some cases, seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional may be necessary if the pain persists or is severe. By taking proactive measures to optimize sleep posture and prioritize pain relief, individuals can improve their quality of life and reduce the occurrence of neck and head pain when lying down.

How do I prevent myself from getting morning headaches?

To prevent morning headaches, ensure you have a suitable pillow that supports your sleeping position. Stick to a regular sleep routine and get enough restful sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as they can disturb sleep. Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and tension in the neck and head.

Frequently Asked Question

What are some common causes of neck and head pain when lying down?

Neck and head pain when lying down can be caused by poor sleeping posture, muscle tension from stress or overuse, medical conditions like cervical spondylosis or migraines, and using an unsupportive pillow or mattress. It’s important to address these factors for relief.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

To find physiotherapy near you, use online directories or location-based search engines. Check with your insurance provider for preferred physiotherapists. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare professionals. Contact local hospitals, clinics, or sports centers for information on nearby physiotherapy services.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

To find sports massage near you, utilize online directories and review websites. Inquire at local sports clubs, gyms, or fitness centers for available services or recommendations. Seek referrals from individuals who have experienced sports massages in your area. Contact professional massage therapy associations for certified therapists in your location.


If you’re experiencing neck and head pain when lying down, it’s important to understand the causes and find remedies that work for you. There are several common causes, including tension headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression, hangovers, the wrong pillow or mattress, sleep apnea, TMJ and teeth grinding, dehydration, medications and supplements, and other medical conditions.

If you’re concerned about your headaches while sleeping, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions. They can provide guidance on possible treatment options based on your specific situation.

To prevent headaches while sleeping, there are a few things you can try. Find the best sleeping position that avoids putting strain on your neck and head. Consider using a pillow that provides proper support and avoids causing headaches. Be mindful of your sleep environment and make adjustments as needed.

Remember, getting a headache from sleeping wrong is possible but often preventable with some simple changes. If you’re looking for more tips and information on how to manage neck and head pain while lying down, download our comprehensive guide now.

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