Upper Back Pain After Sleeping: Causes and Relief Tips

Imagine waking up not refreshed but in pain. This can ruin your plans. Pain in your neck or upper back may slow you down. If this happens often, see your doctor. You should wake up from sleep feeling good. Talk to your doctor about any morning pain. Look at these neck rehab videos for more help.

Key Takeaways

  • Upper back pain after sleeping is a common issue that can disrupt your daily activities.
  • Proper sleep posture, a supportive mattress and pillow, and stretching can help alleviate upper back pain.
  • Underlying conditions like arthritis or muscle imbalances may contribute to upper back pain.
  • Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and stress management, can help prevent and manage upper back pain.
  • Seeking medical attention is recommended if pain persists or worsens, interfering with daily life.

Understanding Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

Do you feel upper back, neck, or shoulder pain after sleep? It’s called “upper back pain after sleeping.” This issue has many causes. Knowing these can help you feel better in the morning and start your day strong.

What is Upper Back Pain After Sleeping?

Upper back pain after sleeping is when your upper back, shoulders, and neck feel sore. This can make daily life harder and lower your enjoyment of activities.

Why Does It Happen?

Poor sleep posture is a big reason for this pain. If you sleep in an odd position without good neck and back support, your muscles can get strained. This will cause pain when you wake up.

Injuries from car accidents or falling down can also be a cause. These injuries might have happened recently. They can make your pain worse if not sleeping in the right position.

Neck pain and upper back pain can also come from a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve might happen if your posture is bad, or if you are injured. Inflammation and swelling can press on nerves, causing pain.

Arthritis can make your back and neck hurt after sleep. If your joints are swollen from arthritis, you’ll feel pain. Certain sleep positions can make this pain worse.

Causes of Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

Not sleeping right can cause neck and upper back pain in the morning. How you sleep really matters. If your sleeping position is off or you don’t have good support under your neck and back, this can hurt you.

Recent Injuries

Injuries to your head, neck, or upper body might lead to morning pain. Things like car crashes or a hard fall can cause whiplash or hurt your upper back. These injuries might feel worse in certain sleeping positions.

Sports accidents can also strain muscles, causing discomfort when you wake up.

Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can make your neck and back ache after sleeping. When a nerve gets squeezed or irritated, it can really hurt. Swollen spots, bad posture, and injuries can all lead to this problem.


Arthritis creates joint pain and swelling. For your neck and back, this means less movement and more pain. Some sleeping positions can make the ache worse.

upper back pain after sleeping

Doing gentle stretches before bed can make a big difference. Try yoga or light exercises to help your muscles relax. This helps you get ready for a good night’s sleep. Stretching also makes your muscles support your spine better. So, you can sleep with your spine in a good position.

If your upper back or neck hurts, try using heat or ice before bed. This can help with pain and swelling in the area.

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Maintaining a Neutral Spine

To avoid waking up with pain, keep your spine in a neutral position while you sleep. A healthy posture from your head to your lower back is important. Your mattress and pillows are key here. They help keep your neck and upper back comfortable.

A good mattress and the right pillows support keeping your spine straight. This is true whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach.

Proper Pillow and Mattress Support

A supportive mattress and pillows are your best friends for a pain-free morning. They help you maintain a neutral spine while asleep. This means your spine stays straight and your muscles are not stressed.

Choose a mattress that supports your back well. Pick pillows that keep your neck in a good position. Your body will thank you for the good sleep.

Ideal Sleeping Positions for Back Pain Relief

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back can help your spine stay in a good position. Use a pillow that lifts your neck just right. This makes sure your head and spine are in line every night. A pillow under your knees can also keep your spine straight.

Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your side is a common position. It’s important to have a pillow that keeps your head, neck, and back in line. A body pillow can support your upper arm to prevent it from falling down. Putting a pillow between your knees also helps keep your hips straight.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can make back pain worse. If you can’t avoid this position, use a thin pillow or no pillow for your head. This helps avoid straining your neck. Putting a pillow under your hips can also keep your back from arching too much.

Morning Stretches and Exercises

Wake up without a sore upper back by stretching first thing. Lie on your back and reach arms up. Stretch your feet out too. Then, pull your knees to your chest for your lower back.

Now sit up and put your feet flat, apart. Stretch your arms up high and out to the sides. This helps your whole body. Planks are great for your core. A strong core means less back pain.


Try a mini-cobra for your back. Lie down on your front. Put your palms by your head and lift your chest slow. Keep your neck in line. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 5 times.


If your lower back is tight, do knee bends. Squat like you’re sitting in a chair. Keep your knees over your toes at a 90-degree angle. Breathe out going down, in coming up. Do this up to 10 times.

Knee Bends

Doing these morning stretches and exercises helps with upper back stiffness. Upper back discomfort overnight can lessen. Listen to your body. Change the exercises to what feels good for you.

Lifestyle Changes for Back Pain Management

Walking is great for upper back pain after sleeping and more. Try to walk 10,000 steps every day. But, any activity that gets you moving helps keep your back strong.

If you sit a lot at work, taking breaks is crucial. Stand up every 30 minutes. Doing this and using a standing desk helps prevent back pain the next day.

Ergonomic Workstation Setup

To feel better, lower your stress. Work on your shoulder blades, trapezius, and chest muscles. This will improve your posture and relax your muscles.

Regular Exercise Routine

Stopping smoking is a big deal. Studies show smokers are more likely to have back pain. They may also get spinal disc problems.

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Stress Reduction

Relaxing can help with back pain. Try journaling, talking with a counselor, or guided imagery. It can make you feel less stressed and more comfortable.

Quit Smoking

Did you know smoking can lead to a narrow spine (spinal stenosis)? It can also make you more likely to have weak bones and painful back fractures.

Over-the-Counter and Home Remedies

Severe upper back pain sometimes needs quick relief. If you’re in a lot of pain, ask your doctor about NSAIDs. These are drugs like ibuprofen that can help with pain and swelling. If you can’t take NSAIDs, Tylenol is another choice for some relief.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can target upper back pain by reducing swelling and easing pain. But, you should always use them as your doctor tells you. Long-term use of NSAIDs can cause side effects. So, it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

A TENS machine is another option for upper back pain. Studies suggest it can help with long-lasting muscle and joint pain. However, your body might need time to get used to the electrical pulses. Ask your doctor if trying a TENS machine is a good idea for your pain.

Topical Remedies

Another way to find relief is by using things like turmeric and peppermint oils. Mix them with carrier oils like jojoba or olive. Then, apply to your sore area. These natural oils can help relieve pain when applied directly.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Upper back pain after sleeping has many causes. Poor posture and muscle strain can be culprits. But, some medical conditions also play a role. Two main ones are disc degeneration and fibromyalgia.

Disc Degeneration

Degenerative disc disease happens naturally as we age. The discs between our vertebrae start to break down. This leads to pain that might be worse in the morning. Treatments include steroid shots and pain meds. You might need to wear a support brace too.


Fibromyalgia is a disorder that makes you hurt all over. It changes how your brain handles pain signals. It’s more common in women. Symptoms also include tiredness, trouble sleeping, memory problems, mood changes, headaches, and stomach issues. There is no cure, but medicines can help. Your doctor might suggest therapy to make things easier.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Have you had upper back pain after sleeping that gets worse suddenly? Does it keep getting worse? If so, it’s time to see a doctor. Often, your back pain will go away in a week or two on its own. But if you get really bad upper back pain often, especially in the morning, and nothing seems to help, see a doctor. A spine specialist can make sure you feel better sooner.

Prevention Tips for Upper Back Pain

To avoid upper back pain, it’s key to lead a healthy life and take steps to prevent it. Let’s check out habits to make your upper back strong, flexible, and painless.

Proper Sleep Hygiene

At night, do things to stop upper back pain after sleeping and more. Warm up and stretch before activities. Don’t lift heavy stuff. Take breaks to stretch your neck and back. And, enjoy a back massage. When it’s time to sleep, use a comfy pillow and mattress. These steps can stop upper back pain from happening.

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Correct Lifting Techniques

Right ways to lift can cut night upper back pain and upper back pain in the morning. When you pick up something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back straight. This way, you won’t hurt your upper back muscles.

Weight Management

Keeping a good weight helps upper back pain. Extra weight, especially in your belly, stresses your upper back. Move often and eat right to stay a healthy weight. This lowers your chance of upper back pain after sleeping.


Upper back pain after sleeping is common and can be annoying. But, there are many ways to stop and handle it. By knowing why it happens and doing the right things, you can lessen upper back pain. This will help you feel better in the morning. If it doesn’t get better, talk to a doctor.

Keeping good posture, moving around a lot, and dealing with any health issues are key. They help keep your upper back discomfort in check. And, they make sure you sleep well. Taking care of your spine and health helps prevent morning back pain and other problems.

Trying different things is a good idea. This could be from stretching and exercises to using over-the-counter remedies. Also, making changes in your life can help. Finding the best fixes for you, with or without a doctor’s help, can beat upper back pain after sleeping. Then, you’ll be ready for the day.


What is upper back pain after sleeping?

Waking up with upper back pain is pretty common. It might feel tight, sore, or uncomfortable.

Why does upper back pain happen after sleeping?

Many things can cause this. It may be from how we sleep, injuries, pinched nerves, or arthritis.

What are the common causes of upper back pain after sleeping?

Bad sleep positions, injuries, pinched nerves, and arthritis are often to blame.

How can stretching and exercises help with upper back pain after sleeping?

Before sleep, do some easy stretches. They can relax your neck and back. Try yoga for a calmer night.

What is the importance of maintaining a neutral spine while sleeping?

Sleeping with a straight spine is key to feeling good in the morning. Good pillows and mattress support are important.

What are the ideal sleeping positions for upper back pain relief?

With support for your back, neck, and side-sleeping or even sleeping on your stomach can be okay. This keeps your spine in the right shape.

What morning stretches and exercises can help relieve upper back pain?

Stretch in bed, do planks, and simple back bends. These exercises can make your upper back feel better.

What lifestyle changes can help manage upper back pain?

A good desk setup, regular exercise, less stress, and quitting smoking can ease upper back pain.

What over-the-counter and home remedies can provide relief for upper back pain?

If it’s really sore, try NSAIDs, TENS units, or natural oils like turmeric and peppermint.

What underlying medical conditions can cause upper back pain after sleeping?

Conditions like degenerative disc disease and fibromyalgia often lead to morning upper back pain.

When should you seek medical attention for upper back pain?

If the pain gets worse quickly and is severe, see a doctor. They can help find the problem and suggest ways to feel better.

How can you prevent upper back pain after sleeping?

Good sleep habits, lifting things correctly, and staying at a healthy weight can prevent a lot of upper back pain.