What Is the Best Way to Sleep for People with Occipital Neuralgia?

What Is the Best Way to Sleep for People with Occipital Neuralgia

When occipital neuralgia is present, aching, throbbing and a persistent need to shift positions can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This could then spiral out of control since sleep deprivation exacerbates existing conditions.

It may be rather challenging to sleep when in pain, as anyone who has tried will attest. Occipital neuralgia is not uncommon to induce headaches and neck pain, which frequently worsens at night.

If you're receiving treatment for occipital neuralgia, you might want to discuss your sleeplessness problems with your physician. Here are some strategies for improving sleep quality while treating this excruciating nerve disease in the interim.

Best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia

By changing your sleeping position, you may be able to avoid some additional pressure that can exacerbate head, neck, and scalp pain, as occipital neuralgia pain typically begins at the base of the skull and spreads.

Some persons may have symptoms of occipital neuralgia even when they move very slightly. Having a comfortable sleeping position will help lessen your nighttime tossing and turning tendencies, which may lower your chance of experiencing headaches and pain afterwards.

Think about the following helpful advice:

  • Lie on your back: This lessens the possibility of applying pressure to your nerves and causing pain as a result. According to a 2019 study, supine positions can help relieve some forms of headaches that are treated with occipital nerve blocks.
  • Use a supportive pillow: Keeping your head in position and your spine in alignment can be achieved by using a pillow to support your neck.
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable: Cool, dark settings promote better sleep, which lowers your chance of having jerky movements at night.

The best type of pillow for occipital neuralgia

One strategy to reduce neck and head pain from occipital neuralgia is to make sure you sleep in a comfortable position and use a supportive pillow.

Many pillows from firms that claim to relieve pain from illnesses like occipital neuralgia can be found while browsing online. To find the ideal fit, you might need to do some trial and error on your end.

Nonetheless, the best kind of cushion for occipital neuralgia is typically one that is:

  • breathable or cooling
  • made from either memory foam or latex
  • washable

What you can do to make sleep more comfortable with occipital neuralgia

Apart from implementing particular sleeping postures, there exist additional measures you can take to enhance your comfort level at night to promote sounder sleep. Take into account the following strategies to support improved sleep hygiene:

  • Make an effort to obtain 7–8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure you follow your usual sleep routine, including on the weekends.
  • A large dinner, alcohol, and too much water should be avoided shortly before bed.
  • Limit your coffee consumption to the mornings.
  • Steer clear of nicotine.
  • Half an hour before bed, turn off your electronics, including your phone and TV.
  • Make sure your bedroom is cold and dark.
  • Before going to bed, try doing some moderate stretching, meditation, or taking a warm bath to help you relax.
  • Exercise regularly, but try not to work out right before bed since this could interfere with your sleep afterwards.
  • To relieve pain in your neck, place a warm compress 
  • or heat pad there.
  • For acute pain, use over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines (sometimes, and only if prescribed by a physician).

When to contact a doctor

It might be time to seek medical assistance if your occipital neuralgia is still preventing you from sleeping through the night.

These may indicate that modifications to your treatment approach are necessary. The following are possible therapies for occipital neuralgia pain:

  • OTC or prescription pain relievers
  • steroid or Botox injections
  • antidepressants
  • massage therapy
  • physical therapy
  • occipital nerve or spinal cord stimulation surgeries
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • heat therapy

Even if you have not been diagnosed with occipital neuralgia but believe you may be experiencing symptoms at night, you should still make an appointment with a physician. This uncommon nerve disorder typically begins with a base of the skull pain and can radiate to your:

  • the back part of your head
  • scalp
  • ears
  • forehead
  • eyes

The aforementioned symptoms do not include light sensitivity, aura, or nausea, in contrast to migraine.


As of right now, occipital neuralgia has no known remedy. Medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications are all part of management.

Although it can often be challenging to fall asleep when suffering from occipital neuralgia, getting adequate sleep can also help you control the pain associated with the illness. Proper sleeping postures, high-quality pillows, and effective sleep hygiene practices can all be beneficial.

If after implementing these adjustments your sleeplessness persists, you might still need assistance from a physician.


How should I sleep if I have occipital neuralgia?

Don't bend your neck up when you sleep. Keep it straight.

Does occipital neuralgia get worse when lying down?

The severe pain is often worse at night

How do you relax occipital neuralgia?

Initially, you could attempt cautious home remedies like heating or cooling the neck, sleeping, massaging the muscles in your upper back or neck, and using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

Can you live a normal life with occipital neuralgia?

Many of them find it difficult to continue with their 'normal' lives

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