pillow

Did you know that almost 70 percent of Americans report that they struggle to sleep at least one night a week?

Poor sleep can lead to a variety of other problems, including stress, a weakened immune system, and weight gain. For people who suffer from neck, shoulder, and back pain, getting a night of restful, comfortable sleep can be even harder.

Having the right pillow is an important part of getting a good night’s sleep. A lousy pillow can cause you to wake up with stiff muscles or spasms. The right pillow, however, will give you the support you need.

Ready to start sleeping better? Check out these features to look for in the right pillow.

What’s on the Inside Counts

If you go to the department store to look at pillows, all the options available might overwhelm you. Understanding the differences between the fillings can help you choose one right for you.

Keep in mind that for each type of fill, pillows are available with different quality ratings. Pillows receive a rating based on the quality of the materials used to fill them and their durability. Whatever type of filling you choose, get the highest quality rating you can afford. 

Down/Down Alternative

Down pillows are some of the most common and are the ones you find most often in hotels. These pillows are usually light and soft. If you have an allergy to the down feathers, you can consider down alternative, which consists of synthetic materials.

Wool and Cotton 

For people who prefer firmer pillows, cotton and wool are good options. These pillows tend to hold their shape, which can help provide more support. They are also not susceptible to dust mites, making them a hypoallergenic choice.

Memory Foam

As the name suggests, memory foam pillows “remember” the shape of the sleeper and conform to that shape. This makes them popular with sleepers who experience neck and back pain. Some memory foam pillows are also made with a contour to provide additional support matching the spin’s curvature.

Keep in mind, however, that memory foam pillows also retain heat. For those who sleep hot, this can lead to sweating and stuffiness. 

Latex

Some people prefer to avoid pillows made from animal products, which can make latex a good alternative. They are also mold-resistant, which makes them good for those with allergies. Finally, latex provides a similar experience to memory foam but has a cooler feel to it.

Position Matters

Many people do not realize that the position they sleep in impacts what type of pillow they should use. 

Side Sleepers

Almost three-quarters of Americans sleep on their sides. If you’re one of these sleepers, you should use a firm or extra-firm pillow. This helps maintain the proper curvature for your neck and back.

You may want to consider a memory foam or latex pillow, as these will keep their shape and firmness. A down pillow is usually too soft for side sleepers, as it is might be too soft to support the head in this position.

Just make sure the height of the pillow is suitable to your body size meaning you want your head parallel to the bed and not laterally flexed in either direction as this will strain the neck throughout the night. 

Back Sleepers

If you sleep on your back, you will want a slightly softer pillow than if you are a side-sleeper because you will need the pillow to cradle your head. 

If you struggle with sleep apnea, you may want to use two or three pillows to prop up your head more. This will help prevent snoring and airway blockage. However this can cause some strain to the neck. It would be best to have an adjustable bed that can incline if you suffer from sleep apnea. 

Stomach Sleepers

This is not the optimal position to sleep in, but if you tend to sleep on your stomach, you do not want a firm pillow. Your head is close to the mattress when you sleep on your stomach. If your pillow is too firm, it will leave your neck at a severe angle, which can cause stiffness and pain. 

If you must sleep on your stomach, you want a softer, flatter pillow. A feather or down alternative usually works well.

However, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach if at all possible. 

What if I Switch Positions?

Some people toss and turn all night, moving into different positions as the night goes on. People who change positions might benefit from using multiple pillows that they can stack for different positions, or using a curved pillow that is lower in the middle and higher on the sides.

How Often Should I Get New Pillows?

No matter how good your pillow is, it has an expiration date. As a rule of thumb, you should switch out pillows once every 18 months.

Of course, most of us don’t remember when we purchased our pillows. If you didn’t mark the date on the calendar, there are a couple of tests you can do to see if your pillow is past its prime.

First, examine your pillow visually. If it has stains, tears, or shows signs of fraying, it’s time to replace it. 

Also, give your pillow a good sniff. Replace your pillow if it smells musty or dusty.

Next, fold the pillow in half. A pillow in good condition will spring back into its original position, whereas an old one will remain folded.

When you buy new pillows, consider writing the month and year that you bought the pillow on the tag so that it will be easy to remember when you next need to replace them.

Stop Living With Neck, Back, and Shoulder Pain

Using the right pillow to sleep can help alleviate neck, back, and shoulder pain. That said, it’s not necessarily a complete solution. 

If you’re still struggling with musculoskeletal pain, it may be time to seek out a Chiropractor. Contact us today to set up an appointment.  

- Elite Spine and Health Center
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