Do you sleep on your back, on your side or on your stomach? Maybe you sleep in a combination of several different positions? Comfort is a significant part of getting quality sleep. You may already enjoy being snuggled in your bed, but having a proper supportive pillow can make a huge difference while you sleep.
Regardless of how you sleep, your pillow should be placed beneath your head and neck, instead of your shoulders. Different types of sleepers will need different pillows.
Keep in mind that most people sleep between 6-8 hours per night. That means that 1/4 to 1/3 of your day (and life) is spent in bed. You need to make sure that your body is getting the support it needs and that sleep position is not contributing to your health issues.
If you sleep on your back:
If you sleep on your back, you want to support your head and the natural curve of your spine. To achieve this, use a firm pillow that will fill the space between your neck and your mattress. For maximum support, back sleepers will need a firm but thinner pillow to avoid their head from reaching out too forward. Back sleepers will also benefit from using another firm pillow placed under the knees. This is especially ideal if you sleep in this one position for the whole night. Having a pillow behind your knees will relieve the pressure or stress on your back while maintaining the natural curve of your spine.
If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need the opposite. A firmer pillow will fill the space between your ear and the outside shoulder, keeping your head and neck in a straight alignment with your body. If your pillow is too soft, it can tilt your head down to the side that you’re sleeping on and result in a stiff neck or headache.
Sleeping on your side is the most supportive position for your spine. So to maximize this support, you can also place a firm pillow between your knees. Better yet, a body pillow will do the job of supporting your shoulders and your legs without it moving around. Having a pillow in between your knees puts your pelvis into a neutral position and will remove the pressure from your hips and lower back.
Sleeping on your stomach:
As much as sleeping on your stomach can be super comfortable, this is a very stressful position on the spine. This position increases the curve in the low back putting stress on the joints in the lower part of the spine. Often times, to relieve that low back pressure, one ends up raising one of the knees toward the head of the bed. At this point, the pelvis is now in a twisted position. Moving on to the neck, it will be turned to one side or the other, with the pillow propping your head up. This too puts a great amount of strain on the joints of the spine.
Choosing the material and filling of your pillow
Once you decide what kind of sleeper you are and the type of pillow you need, it’s also beneficial to choose the material that’s right for you. You want one that’s obviously comfortable . Some pillows can cause an allergic reaction or release an odour that smells like chemicals, which is why it’s important to shop around. Do not just look at the price.
If you want something firm, a latex pillow may be ideal (unless you are allergic to latex). They are shaped for neck support and are resistant to mold and dust mites.
Foam pillows are also firm but you can choose the density that will be most comfortable. High-density foam pillows will provide you support without getting too soft. They also come in a range of different fillers such as solid foam, shredded or in pellets.
Memory foam pillows are also an excellent option and come in various shapes that will support the neck, sometimes contoured in the shape of an S. Memory foam pillows can reduce pressure points and stiff necks since they mold to the shape of your body, but they can also make you feel hot or release a chemical-like odour.
Down or feather:
Down or feather pillows are highly recommended for the best beauty sleep. It’s soft, yet still firm with all the support. There are different levels of fillings to choose from and you can move the stuffing around to where you need the support. But some people can be sensitive to the pillow if they suffer from asthma or allergies.
Wool or cotton:
If you suffer from allergies, cotton or wool pillows are an option for you. These pillows are hypoallergenic and are also resistant to mold and dust mites. There are several types of thicknesses for this pillow.
Learn to sleep tight
There are also several shaped pillows that are designed for your sleeping needs or the position you sleep in. You just need to find the right one for you. Beauty sleep is important. By using the wrong pillow, it can cause neck or back pain, a stiff neck, numbness in your arm or shoulder, discomfort or worsen your headaches. It can even cause sneezing or wheezing during sleep if you have allergies. Pillows are meant to support your head and neck by keeping them in a neutral position with your shoulders. You want to avoid having your head resting back too far or being propped up too far. So decide what kind of sleeper you are, then get the right pillow for a proper slumber.
Call us at 416-792-2599 to learn more about pillows at Back2Life Chiropractic in Toronto.
– Nicolette Mendoza