If you wake up with neck pain, or you suffer from ringing in your ears, dizziness, or ear pain, there is a good possibility that it may be caused by the way you are sleeping.
One muscle that causes all of these symptoms is called sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short). Your SCM originates on your collarbone and inserts into the bone behind your ear, and when it contracts you turn your head to the opposite side. However, if the muscle is tight (for example, when you’ve held your head turned toward one side for an extended period of time) and then you bring your head back so you are facing forward, the tight muscle will pull on the bone behind your ear and cause havoc.
The symptoms for a tight SCM are tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness, loss of equilibrium, ear pain, headaches, pain in the eye and around the skull, pain at the top of the head, and even pain in the throat. Amazing! What’s even more amazing is that it’s rare that this muscle is considered when a medical professional is searching for the cause of your symptoms.
I’ve found that people who have chronic issues with their SCM often sleep on their side and their pillow is either too thin (causing their head to tilt toward the mattress all night) or too thick (causing their head to tilt up toward the ceiling all night). Either case will cause neck pain that won’t go away until the pillow situation is resolved.
In the case of SCM pain, not only is their head tilted up or down, but they also rotate it at the same time. It’s worthwhile to look at how you’re sleeping and adjust it so your head, neck, and spine are in a straight line. If you sleep on your back, your head should be on the mattress (not propped up with a pillow) and you should have a tiny support (like a folded washcloth) under your neck, or you can have a wedge pillow that starts at your mid-back and gently raises your entire trunk and head up while still allowing your head and back to be in a straight line. And, if you sleep on your stomach, this is the one position that is so bad that it behooves you to force yourself to change your position. If you do sleep that way, let me know and I’ll give you some suggestions that work to change your habit of sleeping. It takes time and energy, but the results are worth the effort.
Wishing you well,
P.S. Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living will show you how you can successfully self-treat your SCM. Details are demonstrated in pictures and clear text. Read how by going to http://www.julstro.com/about_PFL.html