What Is The Best Pillow For You?John Miller2020-03-28T11:51:15+10:00
What Is The Best Pillow For You?
The best pillow is designed to keep your spine in a neutral stress-free alignment. However, just like the three bears in Goldilocks... we are all built just a little bit different... so your best pillow may differ to that of your partner, child or best friend.
In simple terms, the best pillow for you needs to be:
suitable for your preferred sleeping position
supportive of your neck and head
suitable for your head, neck, shoulder shape and size
comfortable to lie upon
durable - to keep support for the full night and for many years.
If we reflect upon the three bears. Big daddy's pillow is likely to be larger and firmer than mummy bear's pillow. Baby bear's best pillow will be more than likely be thinner and softer than the rest of the bear family.
Your Favourite Sleeping Position Matters
You'll sleep the best in your favourite position. About 70% of people are side sleepers, 20% back sleepers and 10% stomach sleepers.
What's Your Preferred Sleeping Position?
Back, side or stomach? Once you've decided which is your preferred sleeping posture, we can start to look at the best pillow shape for you.
Matching Your Pillow to Sleeping Position
The best pillow for you will need to support your spine in a stress-free alignment in YOUR favourite position: whether that be side, back or stomach.
Side Sleeper Pillow
Most people prefer a to sleep on their side. Side sleepers should aim to support your spine in a neutral position. The best pillow for you will fill in the space between the mattress and your head and neck. Contour pillows, as shown above, are a good choice if your neck is thinner than your head.
If your head and neck width are similar, then you may gain better support from a conventionally shaped pillow.
Children don't require a pillow until their shoulder width increases beyond the width of their head when a thin pillow would be suitable.
Back Sleeper Pillow
The second most popular sleeping position is on your back. Pillow height is critical.
The more rounded your upper back, the more your head protrudes forward of your neck and upper back, which means the higher the pillow you require.
This a common reason for older people sleeping on two pillows as their upper back increases its C-curve shape, which makes their head sit further forward. One pillow is simply not enough to support your head and neck.
Stomach Sleeper Pillow
Stomach sleeping is not recommended due to the sustained rotation of your neck. You are essentially looking over one shoulder for a few hours. This compresses one side of your neck and over-stretches the other. This commonly results in neck pain, neck stiffness and neck headaches.
A large part of what makes a good pillow is personal preference. If the pillow feels comfortable, it is likely to help you relax, get a good night’s sleep, and feel well rested in the morning. The pillow's surface can also be a source of comfort - some people prefer a pillowcase with a cool, smooth feeling (such as cotton), some prefer warmth (such as flannel), etc. Obviously a chance of season can alter your favourite pillowslip.
Pillow Fine Tuning
Ideally your pillow should conform to your various sleep positions and support the weight of your head. New technology such as memory foam has successfully addressed this issue. They adjust to the unique shape and curves and sleeping position of the user. A pillow should mould to one’s individual shape and alleviate any pressure points.
In reality, a high quality supportive pillow will last several years before needing to be replaced. Unfortunately, cheap polyester or cotton-filled pillows will usually only last a few months. They simply lost their oomph and don't bounce back.
Look for reputable manufacturers, who offer longer warranties. You'll find the best pillows last the longest, as reflected in the warranty. In addition to a better sleep they are better value in the long-term.
Over time, most pillows will begin to lose their firmness and no longer support your neck and head adequately. When your pillow has reached this stage, buy a new pillow.
What to Expect on Your First Night?
It is important to know that your neck may feel different or uncomfortable during the first few nights of using any new pillow. This is because it is still adjusting to the healthy support. In the vast majority of cases, you'll look forward to extreme comfort within a few days.
However, a pillow that does not ease your neck pain within a week is probably not supportive or you have a neck condition that requires professional treatment.
What’s the Classic Signs of an Unsupportive Pillow?John Miller2021-02-07T18:22:54+10:00
Neck Pain, Stiffness or Headaches?
If you’re having a restless sleep or waking with neck pain, stiffness or headaches, your pillow could be the culprit.
A good night's sleep is dependent on a healthy sleeping position and a good pillow. A quality pillow will support your head in natural alignment with your spine. Only a pillow offering good support and adjustability can do this.
What's the Classic Signs of an Unsupportive Pillow?
Most quality pillows will only last you three to four years before you need to change. Some of the lesser quality pillows will only remain supportive for a few months.
The problem is that pillows internal supportive material breaks down with use and time. Whether your pillow is feather, foam, memory foam, rubber, latex or any other natural or synthetic product, they all eventually disintegrate with time and use.
If you are consistently having the following trouble, it's time to change your pillow.
Waking during the night or in the morning with a stiff neck, neck pain or headache.
Restless or interrupted sleep with difficulty going off to sleep.
Another sure sign is an improved sleep when you visit a friend, borrow your partner's pillow or stay in a hotel.
If any of these sounds like you, it's time to change your pillow.
Maybe it's NOT Your Pillow!
Sometimes there is simply no pillow in the world that is best for you.
If you have a neck injury, pain or stiffness you may not have the available pain-free range of neck motion to have a comfortable pain-free sleep. The solution on this occasion is to have your neck professionally assessed and treated. Often just one quality treatment of your neck will solve years of sleeping difficulties.
If you like to see the pillows that most of our therapists sleep on and recommend to our clients, you can view these online here or test then at your nearest PhysioWorks clinic.
Everybody has their favourite sleeping position. However, some are better for you than others. Try to sleep in a posture that helps you maintain the curve in your lower back. We recommend lying on your back with a pillow under your knees (if more comfortable) or on your side with your knees slightly bent.
It is preferable to not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest (the foetal position). However, having said that some back conditions will find this preferable. You should seek the advice of your physiotherapist if you are in doubt.
If you are suffering back pain, you could try lying over a lumbar roll or peanut cushion at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may also be helpful. You may wish to avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress. This sag can cause back strain and can be uncomfortable for your neck.
What is Your Best Mattress?
Select a firm mattress or an ensemble that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your bed's mattress. You can also set the mattress on the floor temporarily if needed. If you've always slept on a soft surface, it may be initially painful to change to a harder surface. Try to do what's most comfortable for you.
How to Rise from Bed
When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs over the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Bend forward at your waist with your core muscles activated.
What is Your Best Pillow?
The human neck curves slightly forward (to sustain the weight of the head when upright), and it is crucial to maintain this curve when in a resting position. If the height of the pillow is too high or low when sleeping, your neck is bent abnormally out of alignment, causing muscle and joint strain. You can even wake with headaches.
Poor pillow support can also cause narrowing of the air pipe, resulting in obstructed breathing, and sometimes snoring, which can hinder sleep.
The best lying or sleeping position may vary, depending on your symptoms. No matter what posture you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position.
To give your body the proper rest it needs, and to ensure the health of your spine, physiotherapists recommend only two sleeping positions: Side sleeping and supine sleeping.
Sleeping on your side, with the spine straight. Sleeping on your back, maintaining the primary curvature of the cervical spine. Both of these positions prevent poor alignment of the neck and upper back. Proper alignment can help to reduce the number of neck aches, backaches, pinched nerves, shoulder and arm referred pain, insomnia, and mental fatigue from a lack of effective sleep.