I get asked this question every week in our clinic. What type of pillow to use?
Ideally it should be a medium density pillow with medium size. Feathered pillows are too soft and your head will fall through them and not support you enough.
When Lying on your back you want your neck to feel supported but not in too much of a forward bend position. When we stand in perfect posture our ear should line up with the lateral tip of your shoulder, that is the preferred position for our neck. Therefore, your ear should not be too far ahead of our shoulder and if it is, you are putting too much stretch on your ligaments and muscles.
Some clients like the contoured pillow as it provides support to keep your neck in it’s natural curved position. When we are young and healthy our neck needs more support as it is more flexible and hyper mobile. As we age our neck starts to wear out and this causes stiffening of the neck joints, so a relatively softer pillow is likely more comfortable, so anyone in their 6th decade or greater.
When lying in sidelying, you want a pillow that you can fold up in half to double the height and help support your neck to avoid any shearing sideways on your neck. Another great tip is to put a firm density pillow between your knees, this will help keep your lower back and pelvis from twisting and getting uncomfortable. If you are in a comfortable supported position, you are more likely to stay in that position longer which leads to higher quality sleep.
Do NOT sleep on your stomach as this as this puts way too much rotation and lateral sheer on your neck joints and soft tissue and often results in a “kink” or fixated facet joint when you awaken in the morning.
So there you have it. Preferred positions for sleep are on your back or sidelying. Currently my 2 favourite pillows are a foam contour pillow I bought at IKEA for around $20, and a pair of pillows I bought online from “MyPillow” as they have a great ability to support and contour, but you have to compress the pillow sideways and lengthwise to puff up the pillow as it is filled with small chunks of foam.
Try these suggestions and let us know how it works for you. Here to a great nights sleep!
I am Blair Schachterle on behalf of the Nose Creek Physiotherapy team.