For those of us who love a good pillow when we sleep, the thought of sleeping without one is almost incomprehensible. Yet many of us aren’t using the right pillow, and the result is often neck pain. Firm or soft? Down or foam? Here is some pillow talk so your pillows won’t give you a pain in the neck.
Why a Pillow?
The purpose of a pillow seems pretty straight-forward – to keep your head and neck aligned while you sleep. Pillows also help alleviate snoring by raising the head above the chest. They also help drain sinuses so you don’t wake up with a stuffy nose. The problem is, each of us sleeps in a different position and that means the most perfect pillow for one person may not be the perfect pillow for the next.
Take a Position
The best way to determine which pillow is best for you and your aching neck is to figure out what kind of sleeper you are, and then match the pillow to you – not the other way around.
Over the course of the next few days, try to determine the way you sleep. Then, see if your pillow fits your sleep pattern.
- Side Sleepers. If you are a side sleeper, which accounts for about 70% of us, you should consider a firm or extra firm pillow to maintain a proper alignment of the neck and head. The pillow should not be too high – only about 4 inches from the mattress. To keep the firmness, it is recommended you avoid soft substances like down, and seek out memory or latex foam pillows.
- Back Sleepers. If you sleep on your back, there is a good chance you have apnea or at least are a chronic snorer. When you lay on your back, gravity can pull your tongue back, disrupting your breathing by blocking the airways. Back sleepers should use a very firm pillow or wedge to elevate the top half of the body.
- Stomach Sleepers. If your preference is to sleep on your tummy, you will want to seek out a soft pillow. By using a softer pillow, your head will be closer to the mattress, keeping the integrity of your neck’s natural alignment. Down or loose fiber fill is recommended to allow you to breathe easy while on your stomach.
- Restless Sleepers. There are those among us who will sleep one way one night, another way another night. For “combination sleepers,” the ideal pillow will be a combination of soft and firm, usually with the center being lower for nights when we prefer the back, and higher on the sides for when we sleep on our sides.
Pillows and Babies
Just like adults, babies need a good night sleep, too. Pediatricians support the “back to sleep” method – putting infants on their backs when they sleep. Parents who opt for this approach reduce the risk of SIDS and allow for drainage of the sinuses and ears. Babies should never have soft pillows in their cribs. For baby back sleepers, a hard foam wedge is highly recommended.
Neck Pain Treatment in Westlake and Avon, Ohio
If you are experiencing neck or back pain as a result of an inadequate pillow or mattress, visit the orthopedic experts at Orthopaedic Associates today. We offer expert care and treatment for a full range of orthopedic concerns, including neck and back pain. Conservative care is always the first option, but our surgeons can perform surgical procedures for those who need them.
We have two locations in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties: Westlake and Avon. Call (440) 892-1440 for an appointment today.