Pillows are intended to reduce the stress placed on your neck while you sleep by keeping it an as close to neutral position as possible. However, different sleeping postures place different levels and types of stress on your neck, upper body and lower back so it is important to pick a pillow that best suits your sleeping patterns.
If you are a back sleeper, you will want to reduce the amount of forward flexion you're neck is going into. Therefore a flatter pillow is preferred. A small lift under the neck can assist in keeping the natural curve of the cervical spine. A contoured pillow or a small rolled up towel in your pillow case can provide this support.
*Sleeping on your back can put some stress on the lower back. Placing a pillow under your knees can help alleviate this by putting the hips and knee into slight flexion.
When sleeping on your side, you will need a pillow with more height to keep your cervical spine (neck) in a straight line with your thoracic spine (upper back). In a side-lying position. The weight of your head will try to pull it down towards the bed, causes a lateral or side bend of the cervical and upper thoracic spine. Therefore, choosing a pillow that is roughly the same height as the distance between the point of your shoulder and the angle of your neck, allowing for some cushioning, is preferred
*Side-sleeping can also put some rotational strain on your lower back and hips. Putting a small pillow between your knees with help alleviate this strain.
Sleeping on your stomach puts the most strain on your body of all the sleeping postures. Your head is rotated to one side with your lower back in extension. Having a pillow that is as flat as possible, or even no pillow at all, is best for this position.
*A small pillow under your hip can help reduce the stress placed on your lower back.
Why a good nights sleep is important.
Whatever your sleeping posture, the most important thing is that you are getting a full nights sleep without being woken by pain. Some of the health benefits that come from a good nights sleep include:
Healing of damaged cells in the body
Boost your immune system to fight off disease
Recharging your heart and cardiovascular system for the next day
Most of these benefits only come during NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phase of sleep or "deep sleep" which can be broken if you continually wake through the night.
At Bodywise, we recommend the Complete Sleeprrr Pillow. If you would like to know more about these pillows, get in touch with us the clinic.
Available for purchase in clinic.