Pillow Talk! Best Pillow for Your Neck
It is no surprise how important sleep is to our overall health and how essential it is for recovery and normal bodily function. But did you know that using the wrong pillow consistently over time may cause your spine to shift out of alignment and cause a Neuro-Structural Shift?
So what are some essential logistical factors to note when examining which pillow is right for you and which is the best pillow for your neck? Pillow features, such as cervical (neck) support, pillow temperature, sleeping position, firmness levels, and overall comfort are some of the main areas to consider. The National Library of Medicine examined the varying effects of feather, memory foam, and orthopedic pillows.
“When comparing the cervical curve of the 3 different pillows, that of the orthopedic pillow was significantly higher than that of the other 2 pillows. The degree of temperature increase was significantly lower for the orthopedic pillow than for the memory foam and feather pillows… pillow comfort was significantly higher in the orthopedic pillow than the other 2 pillows.”
Studies showed that the shape and contents of your pillow play a significant role in cervical support, temperature and comfort, concluding that orthopedic pillows may be optimal for sleep quality.
Most standard pillows currently on the market are feather and polyester-filled pillows. However, studies have shown that these pillows are not conducive to supporting the natural curve of your cervical spine and are not the best pillow to support the neck. Just check out the image below that shows the position of your cervical spine on a standard pillow compared to an orthopedic pillow. And feather pillows, specifically, are not helpful for temperature control.
Other options on the market are orthopedic pillows, which are usually filled with bio-foam or latex, or memory foam pillows.
- Orthopedic pillows allow for cervical support and proper spinal alignment, helping you to maintain a neutral spinal position while you sleep. Orthopedic pillows are beneficial for people with neck pain as they reduce neck tension by keeping the neck and head in alignment, alleviating neck pain. The materials they are made from also tend to allow for better temperature control.
- Memory Foam Pillows are often structured to allow for some cervical support when you are on your back. However, they do not reduce the pressure on your spine and are not recommended for people with chronic pain. Memory foam is also known for trapping heat while you are sleeping.
In addition to weighing out the benefits of varying materials, your specific sleeping style will also impact your buying decision when it comes to pillows. Most people sleep on their stomach, side, and/or back.
When considering a pillow with your preferred sleeping style, you want to ensure your neck and back will be in a supported and neutral position while asleep. A neutral position means that your spine is straight, with your head centered between your shoulders, and your ears properly aligned with your neck and shoulders. For instance, if your head is on its side, but your shoulders are tilted upward, your spine is now twisted.
So which sleeping position is best?
- Stomach Sleeping: Stomach sleepers can reduce snoring and diminish sleep apnea. However, it’s also taxing for your back and neck. When sleeping on your stomach, most of your weight is in the middle of your body, causing your spine to be out of alignment with its natural curve. Laying with your neck rotated to the side for such a long period of time is not recommended. Instead, aim to be in a neutral position. There are many drawbacks to continually sleeping on your stomach, such as back, neck, joint and shoulder pain. If sleeping on your stomach is the only way you can fall asleep, we recommend laying on your back with an orthopedic pillow for 5-10 min before you fall asleep and after you wake up. This will slowly allow your body to adjust to a new sleeping position.
- Side Sleeping: Side sleeping is a better option than stomach sleeping. You can maintain a neutral position on your side if your pillow provides enough support to raise your head an appropriate height above your resting shoulder. Many memory foam and orthopedic pillows have cervical support but do not allow for side sleeping. Instead, the cervical support bends your neck out of a neutral position when you are on your side. Also, if the pillow is too soft and/or low, you may end up tilting your head downward, affecting your cervical spine, resulting in side sleepers with neck pain. If you are a side sleeper, you may want to bend your knees with a pillow between them, extending from your knees to your ankles so that they remain parallel to each other for additional support.
- Back Sleeping: Back sleeping is the easiest to keep your spine neutral, and with proper neck/cervical support can promote a healthy spine’s natural curves and discs. Choose a pillow that has cervical support that is the right size for you and also helps to keep your head centered. If you struggle with sleeping on your back, try putting a pillow under your knees to help support and ease the tension in your lower back.
So what is the best type of pillow for your neck and the pillow we recommend? The Proper Pillow.
The Proper Pillow is an orthopedic pillow with excellent cervical support and allows for back, side, and stomach sleeping. With two different size cervical support options, the Proper Pillow has an option that works for pretty much everyone since it’s an adjustable pillow. It also has areas on both sides that allow for a good neutral position while side sleeping and an optional insert to raise and lower the pillow to your preference. The design also allows for excellent airflow, preventing your pillow from getting too warm. And the best attribute we enjoy most about the pillow – it still feels comfy! Want to learn more? Give the front desk a call so we can discuss – (408) 533-0553