Do you struggle with getting a good nights rest, feeling worn out and generally achy?
Well you aren’t the only one, 38.9% of Australian adults also experience inadequate or non-restorative sleep.
The alarming evidence, other than the bags under your eyes, is that non-restorative sleep predisposes you to be twice as likely to have musculoskeletal pain (SHF, 2017).
Burning the candle at both ends is a common occurrence but for some the culprit is their pillow.
It is time to consider if the relationship with your pillow is healthy.
The benefits of a pillow suited to you are multifaceted including a better nights rest, reduced headaches and decreased neck pain and snoring.
Your neck has a natural lordosis (or curvature) so finding the best pillow to fit this nook is critical.
Essentially a pillow should support your neck and head to be in a horizontal line.
So next time you lay your head, assess if your neck is awkwardly tilted, it may mean your pillow is too thick or thin for you.
Everyone is different so your partner’s pillow may not be appropriate for you.
Whether you are a back sleeper or a pillow hugging side sleeper, your sleeping position will influence the pillow that best supports your necks neutral spine.
Side sleepers when you sleep on your side there is a greater distance from your head to the bed.
Therefore you need a medium thickness and slightly firmer pillow, so there is no gap between your neck.
Whilst tummy sleepers you will require a flatter pillow.
As tummy sleeping is not a desirable position for your neck or lower back, consider utilising another pillow under your hips to also support your lumbar curvature.
Back sleepers need a thinner to medium pillow to support the back of the head, however not to the point where it forces the head to be tilted forwards (CPAP, 2018).
This diagram is a helpful guide for both back and side sleepers (Cafarello, 2015).
Another consideration is the material of your pillow and this will be a personal preference.
However there are particular types that cater for certain sleeping positions and heat sensitivity.
If you are a side sleeper latex may be your fit as it provides better support and they are hypoallergenic, a recent study also found they reduced pain and stiffness in the morning (CPAP, 2018).
Other materials that cater for side sleepers in warmer climates or if you are sensitive to heat, are down and bamboo pillows, as they are cooler and lightweight. An unfavorable characteristic of down pillows is they flatten quicker and therefore may require more frequent exchange. If the cost of turn over is a major consideration foam pillows are more durable due to their density and are favourable for back sleepers (Pillow talk, 2018).
Memory foam pillows conform to support the natural curvature of the neck and are appropriate for both back and side sleepers. They are regarded as being very comfortable, however they tend to retain and produce more heat.
Change is always daunting but your neck will thank you for being snuggled into a good posture.
A good nights sleep has also been proven to boost both your physical and mental health (SHF, 2017).
As a take home message your first consideration when choosing a pillow is finding one which supports your neck in a straight line in whatever position you sleep. Sweet dreams!
Lauren Mutton, myPhysioSA Physiotherapist Mount Barker
For More Information, you can visit:
Sleep Health Foundation, 2017, ‘Asleep on the job – costs of inadequate sleep in Australia’, Sleep Health Foundation, Accessed: 15/7/2018, <www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=867&Itemid=1125>.
Pillow Talk, 2018, ‘The perfect pillow awaits!’, Pillow Talk, Accessed: 15/7/2018, <http://blog.pillowtalk.com.au/pillow-buying-guide-how-to-pick-the-perfect-pillow/>.
CPAP Australia, ‘How pillows provide a good night’s sleep’, CPAP Australia, Accessed: 15/7/2018, < https://ww2.cpapaustralia.com.au/blog/pillow-good-nights-sleep>.
Cafarello N, 2015, ‘The importance of pillow posture’, The Blade, Accessed: 19/7/2018, <http://www.toledoblade.com/Medical/2015/11/08/Proper-alignment-is-as-critical-as-the-type-of-pillow-for-a-good-night-s-sleep.html>.