The Myth Of The Magic Pillow

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 in Physiotherapy, Spinal Physiotherapy | No Comments

Are you one of those people who owns 20 pillows? Each one bought on the hope that it will be The One.  You’re looking for that pillow that magically fixes all your neck niggles, allows you to slumber peacefully through the night and does the washing up.  I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that this pillow, sadly, does not exist.

What you can get is a pillow that supports your neck and helps maintains your posture while you sleep.  Firstly, you need to consider whether you sleep on your back, side, stomach or somewhere in between, as this will help you work out how big a pillow you will need.  I know that a lot of people toss and turn in their sleep, but the easiest way to work where you spend the most time is to think about the position you wake up in, as this will probably be the position you spend the most time in.

To work out the height of the pillow you just need yourself and a wall.  If you sleep on your side stand next to the wall, with your shoulder firmly on the wall.  The distance between the side of your head and the wall is roughly the same as the size of the pillow you’ll need.  The same runs true if you sleep on your back; stand up against the wall with your heels as closed to it as you can, your shoulders resting on the wall and the back of your head comfortably above your shoulders (try not to force you head onto the wall, you want to be standing fairly relaxed).  The distance from the back of your head to the wall is the height of the pillow you need.

Now you know how big your pillow needs to be, we now need to think about what type of pillow you need. There are a lot out there. Latex, foam, feather, contour, polyester are some of the standard materials that make up your pillow. There is little research, but all of the current research points to the firmer pillows -latex, foam and polyester. The firmer pillows resulted in the least amount of movement between vertebrae, meaning they maintain their support of your neck as you relax into the surface. Interestingly there was little to no difference between a regular shape firm pillow to contour pillow in neck position and support.

So if we put these together, you should be able to develop your perfect pillow combination. It’s important to remember that we spend a third of our life in bed, so considering your support through your back is important. If you have neck pain or headaches in the morning, your pillows maybe influencing this and it’s important to talk to your Physio about this. You can come in and see one of our Bend + Mend Physio’s at Barangaroo – King Street Wharf or Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD.

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