Ideally, after a good night’s sleep you will find yourself well-rested, energised, and ready to start the day. In life, however, many experience something much different. If your day begins with a stiff neck or even neck pain, check your pillow – very likely, you are not using the right one. And – good news! – it is not that challenging to find an ergonomic pillow that fits your needs.
Pay attention to your pillow
Essentially, do not underestimate the ways in which a thing as basic as a pillow affects your health. If the neck is not kept in its natural spinal position throughout the night, it is not surprising it is aching the next day. Not only does unnatural neck position create stress in the neck itself, but it also results in problems in the lower back and can even cause back pain. Thus, a pillow that keeps the neck in a neutral position can reduce an array of health problems without you putting any effort.
Sleeping positions and your neck
How to choose the right pillow? Well, different sleeping positions mean the neck itself is in different position in relation to the spine, and thus it is wise to choose your pillow keeping that in mind. People who sleep on their backs need thinner pillows since the neck is only slightly below its natural spine line. For the ones used to sleep on their side – this position seems to be the dominant one among people participating in statistical surveys – thicker pillows are needed for the neck not to fall too low and cause stress. People who sleep on their stomachs, which is the least healthy position to sleep in, need thin and soft pillows as the neck does not fall much below its natural spine line yet people tend to move a lot to find themselves comfortable lying down like this. Unfortunately, there is no magic pillow to fit everyone’s needs, yet ergonomic pillows are pretty close to that.
Feel the difference
Ergonomic pillows, unlike regular ones, are designed to adapt to sleeping positions – that is, various neck positions – of their users and to minimize the stress that is otherwise caused by unnatural spinal curves. Ergonomic pillows are made of special foam that provides greater support for the neck and reduces tension if one sleeps in the same position all night. Usually, it is not just the material itself that makes such type of pillows more effective: they are also shaped in a way to fit the natural curves of the spine. Interestingly, if you switch from a regular pillow to an ergonomic one, it takes time for the neck to get used to its natural spinal position and so give your ergonomic pillow up to two weeks to feel the real difference. In case you feel extremely uncomfortable during the night, it is fine to switch to your old pillow, but try again the next night.
Even if you do not get enough sleep, it is worth making that night-time as healthy for you as possible. While taking a nap on your couch among a couple of throw pillows in the afternoon is certainly relaxing, your body needs actual sleep with perfect conditions. Choosing the right pillow that would help your neck is one simple step towards making yourself feel better, and, who knows, maybe that is all you need!
Kate Simmons is a freelance writer on topics related to health & wellness, organic foods and non-invasive medical procedures.