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Neck brace for sleep?

craigfisher256's picture
Last seen:
4 years 4 months ago
08/04/2016 - 9:06am
Neck brace for sleep?

Neck discomfort is keeping me from sleeping.

I realize that progress can be slow and that reshaping the neck takes time, but none of the strengthening/lengthening/shoulder-rolling/stretch-sitting seems to be helping since I'm barely sleeping. It's like everything is being broken but nothing is being put back together. I work at a desk job, so there's no avoiding it.

Every night I have to fight for hours to find a position that my neck can tolerate. Here's the catch-22's:

- If my neck is "straight" on the pillow, my shoulders/traps are too taught and start to sting.
- If my neck is more 'relaxed', my head starts to "grab the pillow" and roll backward till I can't breath.
- If I try rolling my shoulders back in advance, either my upper or lower back seems to get misaligned/compressed, and then THAT keeps me from sleeping.
- If I switch to my side, my head always seems to be set wrong: too low, too high, too twisted left or right. My shoulders? Forget it.

Usually when I wake up I'm on my side and my neck is hunched forward in some ridiculous way. I often don't fall back asleep because the second I move I've messed it up.

It's been hell.


Main question:
- Would it be safe/comfortable/recommended to wear a neck brace to bed? Is there a "style" of neck brace that you recommend? Amazon seems to be swamped with neck braces and they all seem to be fundamentally different. If a style is good for sitting upright, is it still safe to sleep with it?


Related questions:

- If I'm breathing through my mouth, is it pretty much impossible to do the recommended techniques? Whenever I open my mouth on a pillow, it seems to either sway my neck OR dig into my throat. If I strongly lengthen my neck & expand my chest I can avoid this, but then I can't hold that position very long.
- What parts of the neck need to "re-shape". Is it just the muscles, or do the bones and ligaments need to literally re-shape themselves? How long does this take?

Norm Brekke
Norm Brekke's picture
Last seen:
4 years 7 months ago
11/15/2012 - 12:51pm

Thanks for your question. As you mentioned, the neck is a slowly changing area. For some, it could take months or years to see the desired change.  You didn't mention, Craig, if you have taken the Gokhale Foundations Course, or are working with a Gokhale Teacher. The teacher is able to work with you individually and ensure that you are not missing some subtle nuance in the method. He or she can observe your practice of stretchlying on the back and side, and can ensure that you are in the optimal position for your body. Given your comments about difficulty adjusting your sleeping postion, it may be beneficial to seek additional individualized attention. For many, "Eight Steps to a Pain-Free Back" is sufficient, but others need just a bit of tweaking.

Concerning your main question: Unfortunately we cannot make recommendations concerning the efficacy or safety of any particular products (such as a neck brace). Our educational approach is relatively 'product light,' and our method as taught simply using pillows and/or blankets has been effective for thousands. 

If you have taken the course, simply continue to follow the simple techiniques you have been taught: shoulder roll, lenghening the neck, and the supporting exercises in the appendix of the book. Seek help of a qualified teacher, and perhaps explore complementary and alternative disciplines such as massage, chiropractice, and acupuncture.

Norm Brekke, Gokhale Method Teacher, Minneapolis

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