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Potential issue with new mattress -- stiff neck and headaches 01 Aug 2021 15:52 #1

Howdy. I just got a new mattress, wire platform, and pillows. It is a 'Tango" made by a local manufacturer, AA Bedding, in Queens. It's slightly firm -- a "6 out of 10" according to the gentleman who runs that business. Technical details are: bonnell coils, 312-coil count, 13-gauge steel, and 9 inches thick. Any additional info can be found here in my first thread: <www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/index/23734-best-sub-200-platform-bed-foundation>

My problem is that nearly every other day the week of Sunday 07/26, I have woken up with a headache, or else developed one a few hours after waking up (usually late afternoon to early evening; it happened a little bit Sunday, badly on Tuesday and Thursday, and slightly on Saturday). I sleep nearly exclusively on my back. During this time period, I was sleeping with a "firm" polyfill pillow from Target.

Saturday morning, I woke up early to use the bathroom, and noticed my dad's memory foam bed (with a softer pillow, too) was unoccupied, so I tried that for 2 hours. I slept a lot better and my neck stiffness that day was greatly diminished compared to the other days I'd had them.

Later that day, I got a "medium-firm" (that is, one degree softer) pillow from Target and slept on it. As of Sunday 08/01 (today), I woke up with slight stiffness on my right side of my neck but overall better. (This is to say, I woke up with some discomfort, but less of that and also less pain compared to the nights of sleeping with the firm pillow).

My initial theory is that my firm pillow raised my head too high and stretched my neck muscles out, which would explain the sore neck and dull headaches. (The pain was mostly in the forehead and sometimes between my eyes.) What else could it be? Could the mattress itself be causing issues? I slept on it BEAUTIFULLY the first three nights, but then started having these issues immediately after that period.

What should I look for and what else can I do? The pain and discomfort are bad enough where I've sometimes had to sleep for an hour mid-day; it has also gotten in the way of my productivity. I'd appreciate any pointers. I'm more than a little frustrated, because I spent a long time researching and finding a good bed. Many thanks!

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Potential issue with new mattress -- stiff neck and headaches 07 Aug 2021 12:21 #2

Hey bedlambilly,

Welcome back to the forum :) ! Nice to see you again!

Howdy. I just got a new mattress, wire platform, and pillows. It is a 'Tango" made by a local manufacturer, AA Bedding, in Queens. It's slightly firm -- a "6 out of 10" according to the gentleman who runs that business. Technical details are: bonnell coils, 312-coil count, 13-gauge steel, and 9 inches thick. Any additional info can be found here in my first thread: <www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/index/23734-best-sub-200-platform-bed-foundation>


Congrats on your new mattress purchase! I do remember our earlier chat regarding your choice of either AA Bedding's Tango model or Body Massage model, good to hear that you made a decision. From that post , both mattresses seem fairly basic and economical, shorter-life options, which suit your particular short-term needs.

My problem is that nearly every other day the week of Sunday 07/26, I have woken up with a headache, or else developed one a few hours after waking up (usually late afternoon to early evening; it happened a little bit Sunday, badly on Tuesday and Thursday, and slightly on Saturday). I sleep nearly exclusively on my back. During this time period, I was sleeping with a "firm" polyfill pillow from Target.


There's a good chance that your firm poly fill pillow is forcing your head and neck upwards into an uncomfortable position in your preferred back sleeping position. To illustrate, here is an image borrowed from Google showing head/ neck positioning while back sleeping:


The pillow on the left is likely of a medium or softer firmness, allowing your neck and shoulders just enough sink into the pillow to cradle them as well as encourage proper spinal alignment for the back. The firmer pillow in the middle creates a higher loft (thickness), creating a forward pitch of the head and added pressure on the neck. The soft pillow on the right has too low a loft, causing the head to tilt back and resulting in increased shoulder pressure. Incorrect pillow loft one way or another can cause headaches and pressure pain from uneven neck alignment, and sometimes snoring as well. As correct head and neck alignment varies with each individual, you may consider on online search using the term "pillow fit guide" or similar and use your personal stats to find the pillow height and firmness to best suit your needs.

Saturday morning, I woke up early to use the bathroom, and noticed my dad's memory foam bed (with a softer pillow, too) was unoccupied, so I tried that for 2 hours. I slept a lot better and my neck stiffness that day was greatly diminished compared to the other days I'd had them.

Later that day, I got a "medium-firm" (that is, one degree softer) pillow from Target and slept on it. As of Sunday 08/01 (today), I woke up with slight stiffness on my right side of my neck but overall better. (This is to say, I woke up with some discomfort, but less of that and also less pain compared to the nights of sleeping with the firm pillow).


It sounds as though you arrived at the same conclusion, bedlambilly. Perhaps your Dad's softer pillow, combined with his memory foam mattress gave you some relief and created the idea that the pillow could be the problem. Good job on catching that and purchasing the medium-firm pillow for testing.

My initial theory is that my firm pillow raised my head too high and stretched my neck muscles out, which would explain the sore neck and dull headaches. (The pain was mostly in the forehead and sometimes between my eyes.) What else could it be? Could the mattress itself be causing issues? I slept on it BEAUTIFULLY the first three nights, but then started having these issues immediately after that period.


You seem on the right track with your diagnosis of the pillow's positioning. The best way to confirm your suspicions is to have someone photograph you in your back sleeping position using each of the two pillows for comparison with the above graphic. You could even do it yourself if your smartphone has a timer option. You may be surprised to "see" in the pics what it is that you "feel" using each pillow. Feel free to share your experiment with the forum if you find it helpful for others who may be following your post :) .

What should I look for and what else can I do? The pain and discomfort are bad enough where I've sometimes had to sleep for an hour mid-day; it has also gotten in the way of my productivity. I'd appreciate any pointers. I'm more than a little frustrated, because I spent a long time researching and finding a good bed. Many thanks!


Try the above exercise first and see how that works. My apologies for the delayed response; have there been any new developments?

Thanks,
Sensei
Sensei(@ TMU Team)
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Potential issue with new mattress -- stiff neck and headaches 14 Aug 2021 15:05 #3

I'll try that exercise this weekend. The new pillow has, at the least, eliminated the stiff neck. The headaches are still around, so that's harder for me to explain. I saw a doctor and he thinks it's just "tension headaches" and was skeptical that a headache without stiff neck would be caused by poor sleeping posture. I'm still going to troubleshoot with the bed just to be sure, however. (Also, it's worth noting that I slept in a bed other than my own last weekend and still experienced these headaches. I suspect it's not the bed, but I'll keep troubleshooting to make sure.)

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