Author: Dan Halliday
A good pillow is just as important as a good bed, in providing a quality night’s sleep. In my experience as a physiotherapist, I like to trial most pillows on the market, I also ask my clients to bring their pillows into my practice so that I can assess their condition, whether they are being used correctly and whether they need to be replaced.
People rarely give a lot of thought to the pillows they use but buying the right pillow and positioning it correctly is an important factor in sleep success. In addition to providing comfort, they give support to the neck and spine alleviating and preventing pain.
The human neck curves slightly forwards (to sustain the weight of the head when upright) and it is important to maintain this curve when in a lying position. If a pillow is too high when sleeping on your side or back, the neck can be placed in an abnormal position, causing muscle strain in the neck and back.
The best pillow for you is one that meets your contours and sleeping position, as well as the density of your mattress. It should fit like a glove. The goal is to allow your neck and spine to be aligned properly so there is no gap between your neck and mattress. It should provide support for the head, neck, and upper spine while the body is lying in bed in a resting position.
- BACK SLEEPER
Your pillow should support the natural curvature of your spine. Bear in mind that too large may tilt your head forwards and too small may tilt your head backwards.
HIGH - MEDIUM
- SIDE SLEEPER
Be sure the gap between your head and shoulders is filled by pillow so that your spine maintains a midline position.
MEDIUM - LOW
- FRONT SLEEPER
When sleeping on your stomach, your pillow should be relatively flat, to keep your spine in alignment. This will minimise strain on the neck/lumbar region.
The fill of the pillow you choose is important, different fills provide different advantages and degrees of firmness but often choice will come down to personal preference.