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How long has it been since you last changed your pillow? Some of you may be on the search for a new pillow and if you are or recently have been, you have probably noticed there are a lot of options to choose from. Others probably can’t remember the last time they changed their pillows.
If this is you, don’t worry – you aren’t alone. When I ask my patients this question, they often disregard the importance of their pillow and go straight to talking about their mattress. Mattresses are important and one of the best and most important financial investments you’ll make when it comes to your sleep. But pillows are a close second and shouldn’t be forgotten about.
So, if you’re sleeping on a worn-out pillow, or find yourself folding it or removing it every night to get comfortable, then that is your first red flag. If you are waking up with a headache, stiff neck and/or feeling unrested every morning, that is your second red flag and it’s time for you to read this blog and update your pillow!
Your pillow’s number one job is to support you in your sleeping position, all night long. The right pillow should keep your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment, as well as support the natural curvature of your spine. This alleviates neck pain and pressure throughout your entire body. If your neck and shoulders don’t get sufficient support or are propped up at an angle that causes twisting and crunching, this causes your spine to be out of its neutral alignment and leads to strain and discomfort throughout your neck, shoulders and back, as well as restlessness and sleeplessness.
As a general rule, bed pillows should be replaced after 18 months. That being said, high-quality pillows will last longer than inexpensive ones. But, if you are sleeping on a pillow that is six to seven years old, you are not getting the support you need, nor sleeping as comfortably as you should. If you aren’t sure whether your pillow needs to change, there are some tricks to finding out:
It’s important to note that your sleeping position will determine what kind of pillow you choose! But that is just one point to take into consideration. For example, hot sleepers, memory foam fans and latex lovers are all going to want a different type of pillow to accommodate their personal preferences.
So, to start, let’s dive into the different kinds of sleeping positions and the pillow you should be looking for to suit you.
When sleeping on your side, you may need a firmer and thicker pillow. A thicker pillow is important when side sleeping as this is going to prop your head up so that it’s in neutral alignment with your spine. It will also relieve pressure in your shoulder, making sure that it is not bearing the full force of your body’s weight. The firmness will serve to keep your head and neck in line throughout the night. If your pillow is too soft, your head will gradually sink down over the course of your sleep, throwing your spine out of alignment and causing a stiff neck.
When sleeping on your back, the pillow should support the natural curve of your neck. So, nothing too thick, as this will force your neck into extension. Medium firmness is best as this will keep your head supported and aligned with your spine. Back sleepers may also benefit from finding a pillow that conforms to pressure, so something like memory foam is particularly beneficial.
Firstly, if you are a stomach sleeper, I would highly suggest changing to an alternative position, as sleeping on your stomach puts your lower back into extension, causing low back pain. If you can’t seem to break the habit or you have to sleep on your stomach, choosing a reasonably flat and soft pillow is best. A flat pillow will maintain a neutral spine; if your pillow is even slightly too high your head and neck will be extended upwards and throw your alignment out. Feathered pillows or something that is adjustable are ideal for stomach sleepers, as you can decrease the height as much as you need.
Yes, there is an endless number of pillows to choose from these days and this is a good thing. So, don’t ignore your pillow! You now know what to look for and they are such an important element when it comes to your sleeping environment. Having the right pillow can make for a more comfortable and restful night’s sleep.
If you have changed your pillow and are still experiencing pain and/or sleeplessness, consider booking in with one of the chiropractors in Perth here at Karrinyup Wellness Centre to see if we can help!
Happy pillow shopping!
Dr Emily Udiljak
At the Karrinyup Wellness Centre we have brought together a team of chiropractors, naturopaths, massage therapists, kinesiologists and a dietitian all dedicated to providing a holistic approach to your health care. Every member of our team shares a common passion and drive: to help every person in their care to improve and reach their health and wellness potential naturally.
Servicing the areas of Karrinyup, Carine, Doubleview, Scarborough, Trigg, North Beach, Gwelup, Marmion, Duncraig and surrounding northern suburb areas.
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