How to Sleep with Occipital Neuralgia (Sleep Position & Tips )

Having enough sleep daily is easily one of the most essential parts of having a healthy lifestyle. Though, sleep can be one of the hardest things to come across when you have medical problems such as Occipital Neuralgia. Conditions that make it hard to sleep, effectively make it more difficult to do ordinary daily tasks due to your lack of sleep. Since our ability to receive quality sleep dictates much of what we can accomplish in our lives, having a good night’s sleep is vital. Especially for someone who is suffering from Occipital Neuralgia.

What is Occipital Neuralgia?

best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia

Occipital Neuralgia is a condition that causes pain along much of the person’s head, neck, and even scalp. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Occipital Neuralgia is “caused by irritation or injury to the nerves, which can be the result of trauma to the back of the head, pinching of the nerves by overly tight neck muscles, compression of the nerve as it leaves the spine due to osteoarthritis, or tumors or other types of lesions in the neck.

Localized inflammation or infection, gout, diabetes, blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis), and frequent lengthy periods of keeping the head in a downward and forward position are also associated with occipital neuralgia.”  With what a person goes through when they have Occipital Neuralgia, it is easy to see why sleeping would be such a challenge. It would be physically uncomfortable, painful to allow your brain to ease into sleep, and frustrating to find a way to sleep. Furthermore, laying down and trying to sleep with that pain for hours on end without distractions sounds infuriating. So, we are here to find out how to sleep with Occipital Neuralgia.

Tips for Occipital Neuralgia

Before a person with Occipital Neuralgia goes to bed, they must prepare their bodies for sleep. Here are a few tips that will help you with everyday living, and preparing to get a good night’s sleep when you have Occipital Neuralgia:

Do not consume caffeine.

Do not consume caffeine

I know, I hate the idea of putting the coffee and tea away too. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. It has been proven that when you are addicted to caffeine, your blood veins shrink in width. This leads your Occipital Neuralgia symptoms to worsen when you do not have your caffeine. Being dependent on a substance is not a healthy lifestyle, even if it is only coffee. Do yourself a favor and cut it out.

Use gentle exercises to relieve tight muscles

Cow Pose for sleep apnea

Gentle exercises like stretches or yoga can help you to relieve pain. It additionally can be a great way to relax your body before laying down to bed. Though it sounds odd to stretch before bed, that does not mean it does not have its benefits. The pioneer clinic suggests putting gentle pressure at the base of your skull using your fingertips. This easy and light exercise can be a great way to relax before bed.

Ice or Heat Therapy

cold compresses

Ice and Heat Therapy is an easy home remedy that can control a significant amount of pain in many situations. Occipital Neuralgia is no exception. Applying heat from a heating pad, or cold from an ice pack allows your blood vessels to widen and prevents tightness. Just make sure to have a protective barrier between your skin and either the ice pack or heating pad. Additionally, make sure to only use either type of therapy for no more than 20 minutes increments.

See a pain doctor for suggestions. If you find that your symptoms are worsening, or that you are having trouble going to sleep, see your doctor. While several remedies can be done at home, there are several things your doctor can either suggest or prescribe to you. This way, your doctor will be able to know about your situation, and also get possibly get you some comfort you may not have been able to get for yourself previously.

best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia

best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia

Now, into sleeping positions. Typically in the daytime, it is fairly simple to control the movement in your neck or remedy any pain you may have. However, while you are asleep, it becomes much more difficult simply because you are not consciously holding your head in a certain position.

You may fall asleep in one position and wake up in another. Or you may find that you held your head in an awkward position all night and it only made your pain worse. This is why making sure that you are sleeping in a position that is going to be most gentle on your neck is vital. It is suggested by the Spine and Pain clinics of North America, that you sleep directly on your back with a supportive pillow. If you absolutely cannot sleep on your back, sleep on your side. The key is to make sure you sleep with your head and spine aligned completely and that you are in a comfortable position.

Best Pillows for Occipital Neuralgia

Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow

Your pillow is going to support you most when it comes to providing a stable spot for your head to stay while you sleep. Your pillow must provide neck support and be sturdy enough to keep your head in one position as long as it can. You will want to make sure to avoid bending your neck when it comes to getting comfortable on your pillow.

This is why the Therapeutica Orthopedic pillow is one of the top-tier pillows to get a full night of sleep. It has a natural center cavity for your head to rest, which will keep your head up, as well as a neck wedge to provide a spot to rest your neck. It is a great resource to have and can become a lifesaver when it comes to living with Occipital Neuralgia.

As you can see there are many ways in which this condition can have a role in how fully you can live your life. Thankfully, it does not always need to have a tremendous toll on you, when you take care of yourself and have the proper tools to support yourself.

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