Following up on our discussion last month on good sleeping positions this month we will take it a step further by discussing how to choose the right pillow.
This is a question we get asked often at the clinic, especially after someone has hurt their neck. Sleeping on a bad pillow can lead to muscle strains, headaches and poor quality sleep. Here are a few features you should look out for when choosing the correct pillow:
- Sleeping Position: First determine what time of position you sleep in: are you a side sleeper, back sleeper, or are you a stomach sleeper? If you are a stomach sleeper, you might as well stop reading, as stomach sleeping is terrible for your back and neck! If you are a side sleeper, measure the distance between your shoulder and head. This measurement should correspond with the width of your pillow. If you are a back sleeper try choosing a pillow with a depression in the center. This will allow the head to rest more naturally. If you are a stomach sleeper, you’re out of luck; the extreme rotation of the neck puts an intense amount of pressure on the neck and joints. Try a body pillow to help you gradually sleep on your side.
- Size: People come in many different sizes and so do pillows. If you are a petite person choose a smaller pillow filled with softer materials such as feathers and down. If you are a larger person, a thicker memory foam might be a better option for you
- Brand: This is something most people do not pay attention to, but a good brand is important when it comes to the quality of your pillow. Choosing a pillow that is made in North America will generally mean better quality materials and better overall support. A good pillow should last 1 to 2 years, however cheaper quality pillows will start loosing their shape and support within a few months. Do the research, it will save you the headache, literally!
- Support: Speaking of support, make sure to try the pillow out in store. Most people may find this uncomfortable, but a 5 min test run at the store could save you from pain in the morning! If you are a side sleeper look for proper alignment of the neck with the rest of the body as shown below:
If you are a back sleeper, ensure the neck is supported as shown in the picture below:
Proper alignment will relieve the pressure on the muscles and joints and allow for a more comfortable sleep.
As you can see, choosing a pillow is not a simple as you might think. Take your time and try our different brands and styles. Here are three pillow brands we have found to be helpful: