Good Night to Neck Pain: How to Choose Pillows for Neck Pain
Do you often wake up with neck pain? Does your neck feel uncomfortable when you lie down on your pillow?
While neck pains can be experienced by everyone, especially as we grow older, a poor pillow choice can make the pain worse.
If you're thinking about replacing your pillow, make sure it's the right kind to help you finally say goodnight to neck pains. This guide will help you find the best pillow to alleviate your neck pain.
What Causes Neck Pain When Sleeping?
Many of us don’t give our sleeping position and type of pillow as much thought as we do the mattress. But these two things can also significantly affect the quality of our rest at night. In fact, sleeping on the wrong pillow for your specific sleeping position can cause chronic pain.
Sleeping Position and Neck Pain
Everyone has a preferred sleeping position. Most sleepers sleep on their sides; some sleep on their backs; and others sleep on their stomachs. If you’re one of those who love to sleep on their stomachs while facing their faces to the side, you are giving their necks some added pressure. This can strain your neck or cause muscle stiffness when you wake up.
If you also allow your stomach to sink into a mattress that is too soft, you are also pressing on and straining your spine.
If you’ve been suffering from chronic neck pain, the problem can be as straightforward as sleeping on an old, unsupportive pillow. To maintain your comfort, your pillows should be replaced every year or two, depending on their material.
Wrong Pillow Choice
Like your mattress, the right pillow is associated with your sleeping position. The correct pillow should offer the firmness and loftiness that are needed to support your head, neck, shoulders, and back. Back sleepers, for example, will need a low-profile pillow, a neck roll, or a specialised ergonomic pillow to promote the neutral alignment of the spine. Side sleepers will need a lofty pillow to make up for the gap between their head and shoulders when lying down. Stomach sleepers will also need a flat pillow to prevent the neck from straining. We’ll talk more about these as we go along with the guide.
Sudden tilting of your head, tossing, and turning may cause tension and neck pain. This is not just common for restless sleepers but also for those who stay in a specific position for a long time while sleeping.
Quality of Sleep
Poor sleep habits can cause or worsen neck pain. The first is straining your neck by sleeping on your stomach. Sleep deprivation and low sleep quality also have a reciprocal relationship with lower back and neck pain. When you don't get enough rest, you may experience more pain.
Existing Health Condition
Physical injuries, poor posture, and other health conditions can also cause neck pain, a stiff neck, or sore muscles. If you feel that your neck pain is not necessarily caused by your pillows, make sure to visit a doctor.
What are the Best Pillow Types for Neck Pain?
In general, the best pillow to alleviate your neck pain will depend on your sleeping position. Many standard pillows are rectangular in shape. There are also other pillow types, like cervical pillows, horseshoe pillows, bolsters, and orthopaedic pillows, that can offer unique benefits based on your needs.
Moreover, we recommend changing your sleeping position if you’ve been sleeping on your stomach, since it can both affect your neck and back health.
Pillows for Back Sleepers
If you often sleep on your back, the best pillow should follow the shape of your head and neck when you lie down. Down or memory foam pillows offer an excellent shape that supports the neutral alignment of your spine while providing adequate support for your neck. Aside from the right contour, a low- to medium-loft pillow will also prevent your neck from being strained.
In terms of firmness, a medium-firm pillow with the right amount of support and contour can support your head as you lie on your back without completely flattening in response to your weight. It should also properly distribute the pressure without straining your neck.
To improve your comfort, try adding a pillow under your knees to lessen the pressure exerted on your back.
Pillows for Side Sleepers
When sleeping on the side, we highly suggest opting for a loftier pillow to help your neck and head be more aligned with your shoulders. This can even be subjected to change depending on the sleeper’s body type. A tall person with broader shoulders, for example, will benefit from high-loft pillows. However, if you are on the petite side, choose a medium-loft pillow. A firmer pillow that can maintain its shape even when pressure is added is also helpful for people who sleep on their sides. Try adding a pillow or a bolster between your legs to improve your comfort.
Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
As much as possible, we do not encourage sleeping on your stomach, which is notorious for arching your back and stressing your neck. The best way to prevent strains and body sores for stomach sleepers is to shift to a healthier sleeping position. While working on your sleeping position, you may try sleeping on a flat pillow to prevent your back from arching when you sleep. You may also support your stomach and hips by adding some pillows beneath them.
Other Ways to Alleviate Neck Pain After Sleeping
If you still wake up with neck pain after upgrading your pillow or changing your sleeping position, you may be able to alleviate the pain by doing some neck exercises. If the pain persists, visit a doctor to check if there are any underlying problems, treatments, or medications that can be done.
As you search for the best mattress for better sleep quality, your pillow also needs some attention. You’ll be surprised how impactful your pillow choice is to the quality of your sleep.
When buying a pillow in Singapore, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the pillow too high or too flat for your preferred sleeping position?
- Will the pillow support the neutral alignment of your spine when you lie down?
- Is the pillow too firm or too soft for your liking?
Aside from choosing the right pillow height and firmness, it’s also important to choose one that feels comfortable according to your preferences.
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