Are You Sleeping With the Enemy?

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The Sports Injury Clinic

Jordan Rouse

February 27, 2018

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Pillows. It's one of those things that everyone has an opinion about the best one out there. But if you're in the market for a new one, where do you start? Big or small? Firm or soft? And if you tend to wake up with neck soreness or stiffness, choosing your pillow wisely can be very important.

We spend one third of our time in bed. And whether you sleep predominantly on your back, front or side, your head and neck are going to need a fair amount of support during this time. Dependent on what position you spend most of your time sleeping, your choice of pillow could differ.

When sleeping on your side, think about the distance between the side of your head and your shoulder. If you sleep with a low or small pillow, your head will be angled towards your shoulder the whole night, which can be uncomfortable and you are likely to wake up tense and with restricted movement. Side sleepers often feel better with a slightly higher pillow.

For back and front sleepers it can be the opposite though. Sleeping with a pillow that is high will force your head forwards or backwards, straining the neck. If you are a front of back sleeper, it is important for postural alignment to keep the head and neck in the midline of the body.

How do you decide on the firmness of your pillow? Firmer pillows tend to help support your head and neck more than soft ones. If you tend to wake up with a particularly sore neck and shoulders, a firmer pillow might just be a good investment for a good night's sleep. However it also comes down to comfort and some people need a soft pillow to get a good night's sleep.

All in all, a magic pillow to cure all doesn't exist. But trying to find one that supports your head and neck, that keeps you in a good position and posture is a great place to start.

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