Waking Up with Stiff Neck – What To Do?

Neck, Spine, Blog, Sports Massage, Shoulder, / By Koh Peh Chia

Waking up with a stiff neck can be unexpected and inconvenient. It can quickly bring on a bad mood and make simple movements, like turning your head, painful.

In this week’s blog, we will share with you some home remedies when it comes to managing the stiff neck.

Causes of Stiff Neck When You Wake Up

1. Awkward Angle

The head or neck may be positioned at an awkward angle, due to unsuitable type or height of pillow used, for an extended period while sleeping. Therefore, stretch and stress muscles, ligaments, and joints beyond their normal limits.

2. Sudden Movement

Sudden neck movements may occur while sleeping, possibly because of rolling over or reacting to a dream and can strain or sprain the neck.

3. Daytime Injury

Some injuries that happen while awake, such as whiplash, may take many hours before pain and stiffness develop later while sleeping.

4. Pre-existing Injury

Several other chronic factor such as facet joint osteoarthritis or cervical degenerative disc disease, might frequently put you into a stiffness neck when wake up in the morning

Remedies for Stiff Neck after Waking Up

Ice or Heat Therapy

  • Apply ice for 10 minutes at a time can help reduce inflammation in your neck structures.
  • If you’ve had pain for a day or more, apply hot pack to the sore area for 10 minutes at a time. This can help to loosen and relax the muscles, which may also reduce pain and improve range of motion

Over-the-counter pain medication

  • Taking an over-the-counter medication may be recommended if the pain and stiffness are severe enough to significantly limit movement in one or more directions.
  • Some examples include ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen.

Gentle stretching

  • After pain level decreases, some gentle stretching can be done for further loosening the muscles surrounding neck.
  • Some stretches cannot fully reach the end range due to the neck’s pain and stiffness, which is OK. The goal is to gradually increase the flexibility without causing more pain.


  • Similarly, the hand and fingers can be used to press the tense muscle area so long as it does not increase pain.

However, if there is still pain, we recommend seeing a physiotherapist as they will determine the root cause of your condition and treat you accordingly. If you have any more questions or would like our physiotherapists to assess or treat your buttock pain, feel free to drop us a question, talk to us, or fill in the form below. Do check out our Instagram page too.

Yap Shi Qi

Rehab Therapist

[wpforms id=”2414″ title=”false” description=”false”]


  1. Roland, J. (2019, June 27). Why Are You Waking Up with Neck Pain, and What Can You Do About It? Healthline.
  2. Cooper, G., MD. (2018, July 19). How to Treat a Stiff Neck After Sleeping. Spine-Health.
  3. Image 1, 2, 3, 4