A question most Osteopaths get asked most days is!
We generally hear this after one of our patients wakes up time and time again with a stiff and sore neck.
To address this question properly I first like to get my patients to understand why this occurs.
A good pillow is important yes, but so is the 12-16 hours before your head even touches it!
Why the right pillow is so important!
If you have spent the day aggravating your neck with activities like using a laptop or phone, unhealthy lifting or poor posture, your neck will slowly start to become annoyed and possibly inflamed.
The good thing about day-time life is that we are often moving, and as such, this inflammation or strain may not be noticed or felt.
At night however, when we stop moving for 6-8 hours, this can have a more noticeable effect. So looking out for your neck throughout the day is crucially important for a good nights sleep.
Another critical factor to consider before selecting the ‘right’ pillow is your sleeping position.
If you have a habit of sleeping on your tummy, no pillow will ever help your neck live happily. People tend to choose this sleeping position out of bad habits or to find extra warmth. Sometimes we hear people choose to sleep this way to reduce their snoring / sleep apnoea symptoms, or to protect other injury sites, like shoulders.
Try to train your slowly out of this. A trick I find has helped is using a pillow/cushion between you knees and under one shoulder to slowly get your body more used to the more ideal side lying sleeping position.
If you must sleep on your tummy, then I would suggest no pillow or something extremely thin to reduce the strain this position causes.
I suggest a side lying sleeping position as, especially when coupled with a supportive mattress and pillow, it maintains neutral spinal position.
Choose a pillow height according to your general build. People with broader shoulders may opt for a high profile pillow, where as if you have a shorter build, a low profiled pillow may be a better fit.
I usually recommend latex pillows as they tend to maintain their shape for longer. They also don’t allow bad postures to help, like memory foam sometimes can.
I also would recommend changing your pillow annually. Not only is this good hygienically, it also ensures the pillow maintains its integrity and thus support for your neck.
Want to find out more. Your osteopath can guide you on your journey to finding the best sleep ergonomics.