The eight hours you spend in bed every night is critical for those who suffer from neck pain. The position you adopt as you sleep can either relax your neck or put it under additional strain. Therefore, having a supportive pillow that keeps your neck in neutral alignment during sleep is essential. Without the proper pillow support, the intricate structures in the neck may be stressed and exacerbate your neck pain and stiffness during the day.
To help you get started, we have summarized to 4 important factors to help you find the pillow that works best for you.
1. Height of the pillow
Back sleeper: If you sleep on your back, you want a pillow that keeps your head and neck aligned with your spine. A pillow that is too high or too low can force your neck to bend at an unnatural angle and cause unnecessary strain as the neck tries to compensate for the lack of support.
Side sleeper: If you sleep on your side, you need a slightly higher pillow. The height of the pillow should be equal to the distance between the ear and the edge of the shoulder, keeping the head in line with the spine.
2. Shape of the pillow
If you have a “text neck” or loss of curve in your neck spine, a cervical pillow that contour to the neck curve may help. Instead of leaving a space where the neck spine is unsupported, a cervical pillow is ergonomically designed to help support cervical spinal alignment and relieve pressure.
3. Firmness of the pillow
The firmness of the pillow can affects the actual height of the pillow. Medium to medium-firm support is recommended for best support and maximum comfort. If it is too soft and “sinks” in too much, it does not provide adequate support for your neck and head, you may end up with sore neck after using it for a while. On the other hand, if it is too firm and does not conform to the shape of your head and neck, it is uncomfortable and may cause some pressure pain.
4. Material of the pillow
Poly-fibre: It is synthetic fibre, low cost and machine-washable. It is usually soft, provide little to medium support, and can flatten over 1-2years. It can harbour dust mites and may provoke allergies in some people.
Cotton: It is natural, toxic-free and odour-free. However, it can clump and flatten over 1-2years, especially after wash. Unlike memory foam and latex, cotton pillow cannot hold a shape to provide support to the neck.
Memory foam: It is chemically produced synthetic foam, hence, it is more costly. New pillow can emit chemical odour up to 3 weeks. It provides soft to firm support. The slow rebound characteristic allows it to follow the shape of your head and neck. With increased area of contact with the body, it is used to relieve pressure pain and dissipate pressure. But, at the same time, it traps heat.
Latex: It is made from natural rubber tree sap, hence, it is more costly. Latex pillow comes with natural scent of the rubber tree sap. It provides soft to firm support. The fast rebound characteristic and buoyant feeling provide excellent support to the head and neck while minimizing pressure pain. It is naturally anti-dustmites and durable for 5-10years.
There are plenty other reasons for your neck pain and poor sleep that you may need professional help. However, do not let “bad pillow” be one of the reasons.
Check out our partner COCO pillow, the chiropractic approved pillow for neck pain patients.