Patients often ask me which type of pillow they should be using. Pillow choice is very important, not only affecting how well you sleep, but also how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Today there are so many different types of pillows on the market, with varying price tags, it’s hard to know which one to choose. Often when I speak to patients they have never even thought about changing their pillow, and usually can’t remember how long they’ve had their current one for. If you can’t remember, it usually means that you’ve had it for too long!
When we are sleeping, we can often stay in the same position for hours. If you think about how uncomfortable you may feel during the day if you adopt the same position and don’t move even for half an hour, you can imagine how you are going to feel when you wake up from a heavy sleep with your neck in an awkward position. We’ve all slept awkwardly on a plane or on someone’s couch before, using the wrong pillow can have the same effect.
So what is the best type of pillow to use? Well as per usual, it depends on the individual. As well as providing comfort, a pillow can also function to support the head and neck and maintain good alignment of the spine whilst lying down. At the bottom of the neck the spine curves forward, leaving a gap between the neck and the surface you are resting on, if lying flat. If your pillow is supporting you properly it should help to maintain this curve in your neck.
If your pillow is too high it can bend the neck forward or to the side which can place strain on the joints and muscles of the neck and upper back. If your pillow is too low it will also fail to maintain the alignment of your spine and can place strain on the neck and upper back too.
The most supportive type of pillow is usually a contour pillow, which curves up to support the small of the neck but then down again for the head to rest on, so that the spine stays in alignment. The height of the pillows and the material they are made from vary, and really depend on the individual.
If you are unsure of whether you may need a more supportive pillow, or which type of pillow would be best for you, contact your Bend + Mend Physiotherapist today.