The goal of using a pillow is to support your head so that it doesn’t bend back too far or forward to far but sits squarely on your shoulders. If your neck and back are properly aligned, you can prevent the pain and stiffness that many people experience after a night’s sleep on the wrong pillow. There is no one pillow that works for everybody but what matters most is comfort and support.
How to Choose the Right Pillow
Finding the right pillow to prevent neck and back pain is not straightforward. Many factors need to be taken into account such as your sleep habits, the characteristics of the pillow and the material it is made from.
Your sleep position is one of the key factors when it comes to choosing a pillow for your comfort and body alignment. If a pillow is too high for you, the cervical spine won’t be aligned and you will experience discomfort and pain. If the pillow is too flat or too low, the same problem occurs. If you change positions during the night, the pillow needs to be able to accommodate those changes.
There are three types of sleepers: side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers. If you are a back sleeper, your pillow should support the natural curvature of your spine with enough support for the head, neck, and shoulders. Pillow height is generally lower than that required for side sleepers.
When lying on your side, you need to make sure that your pillow supports your head and neck so that your spine stays in a straight and natural line. Sleeping on the stomach is the position with the most stress for the neck and back and many patients suffering from pain are advised to try and avoid this position.
When it comes to the pillows themselves, the materials they are made from all have different pros and cons. Personal preference will play a role in your choice. If a pillow feels comfortable, you are more likely to fall asleep. Pillows are made from a variety of different materials including buckwheat, memory foam, latex, polyester, microbeads, feathers, down and water-based materials.
Types of Pillows
A water pillow is able to maintain its shape without any fluffing or punching. It easily conforms to your neck and still offers support. If you tend to move around while sleeping, it will stay in place. You can adjust it to be softer or firmer by changing the amount of water inside. When you sink your head into this type of pillow, you don’t have to worry about it collapsing under the pressure.
The Mediflow Water Pillow offers great support for the neck and back. This pillow was part of a clinical trial at John Hopkins University. Participants in the study found this pillow to be the best in categories such as how long it took them to fall asleep, sleep quality, interruptions to sleep to readjust the pillow and how long it took them to fall asleep again and whether the pillow helped with the pain. This pillow was top in all categories. There are others as well, check out some online water pillow reviews and choose the one that suits you best.
The outer layer is made of hypoallergenic, soft polyester that is easy to clean and durable. Your head rests on this soft layer enclosing the water chamber.
Memory foam pillows retain their shape, mold to the contour of your head, keep your spine aligned and allow your nasal passages to remain open so they reduce snoring. You do not have to flip them or fluff them and the density of the material prevents your neck from bending into awkward positions.
The Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow comes in five different sizes and is made of non-allergenic, non-toxic foam. Its ergonomic design works for different sleeping positions. It incorporates two shapes into one pillow, allowing proper support to the spine while side sleeping or back sleeping. It won’t lose its shape or resilience and it comes with a polyester/cotton machine washable cover.
Bamboo covers are recommended for those who suffer from lung problems, snoring or asthma. These covers are breathable and prevent bacteria and dust mites from causing problems.
The Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow has an extra-breathable cover made of bamboo, polyester, and lycra that keeps you cool and is fully machine washable. The foam used is eco-friendly and is a mixed combination that is fluffy while offering full support.
This pillow is lighter and more resilient than many other shredded memory foam pillows on the market. The pillow has a zipper that allows you easy access to add or remove foam to adjust thickness. This pillow is also hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant and contains non-toxic components.
The Coop Home Goods Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillow has over 14,000 customer reviews on Amazon. This pillow offers support, durability, shapeability, breathability, and adjustability. The Bamboo derived viscose rayon fabric is designed to be breathable and doesn’t retain heat. The pillow is adjustable to different sizes, weights, sleeping positions, and shapes.
Countless densities were tested to find the perfect combination of soft and yet supportive. The proprietary mix of shredded visco-elastic memory foam is certified free of all toxic elements as well as being hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. If you aren’t satisfied with this pillow you can return it within 30 days for a refund.
These pillows are used extensively in the Orient and are still the pillow of choice in Japan. They keep the head cool and the belief is that when the head is cool and the feet are warm the body is in balance. When the opposite occurs, the body suffers from many ailments.
The Buckwheat hulls used in these pillows offer firm support and yet they are breathable and malleable at the same time. They conform to the body and provide cool, all-natural support. They are not like those pillows which collapse under your head, straining your neck and back muscles. You can also adjust their thickness by adding or removing the hulls.
The Zen Chi Buckwheat Pillow is filled with 100% organic buckwheat hulls that conform to the shape of your head and promote air circulation for a natural cooling effect. Buckwheat hills are believed to offer therapeutic benefits that far outweigh those of traditional foam or feather pillows. They have stood the test of time and offer all-natural therapy for muscle pains, stiff necks, and headaches.
Down is the underneath, fluffy part of a bird’s feather. It tends to hold its shape so it offers good support and is very light and soft. It does require constant fluffing, however, and is difficult to clean. The good ones can also be pricey but they are durable so they will last for years. Just make sure that your down pillow is 100% down and doesn’t include feathers.