Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you wake up with a stiff neck in the morning? Do you wonder if your pillow is part of the problem? Read on to find out if your pillow is right for you, and if it’s not, how to find one that is. At Action Physiotherapy, we’ve helped may people deal with issues that are preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep. Contact us HERE to find out if one of our professionals can help you.
We all use pillows, but how do we know if we’re using the right one? From water pillows to cube pillows, memory form to old fashioned down filled, it seems there’s always a new ad for the latest and greatest in sleep technology. Given that some of these pillows can cost well over $100 (and that you can’t return them), it can be a little intimidating to figure out if you’re making a good investment. Today we’re going to talk about some theories about pillows, and answer some of the questions we get in our clinic about them.
One of the most common questions we get is: “How do I know that my pillow is the right size/shape for me?”. My first question is then always: “How do you sleep?”. Your body position in bed goes a long way to finding the right pillow for you. Other than being comfortable, your pillow’s job is to try and keep your spine in a neutral position while you rest. This will take the pressure of the joints of your spine while you sleep, letting them recuperate after a long day of keeping you vertical.
If you are a side sleeper, the thickness of your pillow will determine how flat your head is lying. Too thick, or too thin, will leave your head on an angle relative to the rest of your body, causing your spine to bend at night, and can often leads to kinks or soreness in the morning. To get a good estimation of how thick your pillow should be, measure the horizontal distance from your neck to your shoulder. This is much easier with someone else, but if no one is available, you can tape a ruler to the wall and look in a mirror to get the distance. This will give you a good idea of how thick your pillow should be. Keep in mind that if you prefer a softer pillow, the weight of your head will compress it more, so you may want it a little thicker than what you measured.
If you are a back sleeper, you ideally don’t want much of a pillow at all. Some people in fact just prefer a towel roll or a small tube pillow under their neck. Compared to a side sleeper, the curve of your neck requires much more support if you’re sleeping on your back, so a contoured pillow can really help. How thick your pillow should be as a back sleeper is entirely dependent on your posture. Stand up comfortably straight with your back against a wall, and have someone measure the distance from the back of your head to the wall. This will give you your pillow thickness guideline. You can get a pillow with a contour for additional neck support, or even roll a small towel inside your pillow case to help out with neck support as well. Just like before, start thicker with a softer pillow.
All of this theory aside, the ideal pillow for you is the one that gives you the best night’s sleep! My starting advice for anyone looking to change up their pillow is always the same: First of all get whatever pillow you currently find the most comfortable. Next we’re going to use the towel trick I mentioned earlier. You can roll it up and stick it inside your pillow case, and fine tune it to see what works best for you. Roll it tight, or roll it looser. Fold one or two flat under the pillow for extra height, or lay one or two flat on top for extra firmness. It is a trial and error process, but it doesn’t cost you anything, and by the end of it you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for when you go to purchase your next pillow.
Having good support for your neck will go a long way to getting a better night’s sleep, but if you have underlying neck or back issues, it may not be enough. If you have concerns about the quality of your sleep, click HERE to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you get the sleep your body needs.
We are here to help
Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist
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