Definitely, pillows are used as something our heads rest on when it’s time to sleep. However, we must keep in mind that pillows have more purpose than just being our bedtime companions. This might be a simple and no-brainer reason, but pillows are there to give our bodies support and help us retain good posture and alignment even as we sleep. But then again, not all of us sleep in the same way, thus each one of us might expect different from a pillow than the next person.
In here, we will discuss different sleeping positions and physical conditions, and this will help us identify the best type of pillow that works best for our lifestyle.
A person’s sleeping position has a significant impact on the quality of sleep they get, which in turn affects their overall health. Of course, it only makes sense that if one has a good sleeping position, they sleep better and will therefore feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally. On the other hand, poor sleeping positions might be a cause of bodily pains and disrupted sleep. Below are common sleeping positions, which determines possible good and adverse effects from each one.
1: Side Sleepers
If you’re a side sleeper, there is a big possibility that your spine can be elongated. This prevents you from suffering neck and back pains. Sleeping on your side also keeps your airways open, so you are less likely to snore and suffer from sleep apnea; open airways also aid in digestion, which lessens your chances of getting heartburn and acid reflux.
On the other hand, side sleepers are also unfortunately at risk of getting premature wrinkles. This is because your skin is frequently pushed against the pillow. Sleeping on your side also constricts your neck and shoulder muscles because your shoulder supports your body weight. And we are all too familiar with our blood circulation getting cut off when a body part is pressed on.
With these in mind, side sleepers should use a pillow that is thick enough to support their head and neck. Usually, memory foam, buckwheat, or latex pillows are suitable for this sleeping type because they are flexible and do not flatten quickly compared to other pillow fill materials. Pillows in the market that are “extra firm” are also recommended, as these pillows help in maintaining the proper alignment of the head and neck.
2: Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers are the ones least susceptible to snoring because this position keeps the upper airways open, thus helping with digestion and reduces chances of sleep apnea. However, sleeping on the stomach flattens your naturally curved spine, so you end up having lower back pains. You can also get neck pains because you would have to turn your head to one side if you sleep on your stomach. There is also unnecessary pressure on the muscles and joints, resulting to numbness, tingling, and pain and irritation to the nerves.
If this is your preferred sleeping position, try sleeping lying face down instead of having your head turned to one side. Prop a pillow on your forehead so that your face is not covered and your breathing not hampered. Use may also want to use a low, soft pillow, preferably made from down or feathers, so that it is not too high that it might strain your neck.
3: Fetal Position Sleepers
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), fetal position is the most common sleeping position in adults – this is when you lie down sideways with your knees bent close to your upper body, like a baby in the womb. This position is recommended for pregnant women because it improves circulation for both the mother and the baby, and it prevents the uterus from pressing against the liver. This position can also help the sleeper prevent snoring.
On the other hand, sleeping in the fetal position can cause joint pains, and if you have arthritis, it can worsen by leaving you feeling sore when you wake up. You will need additional support for your neck and head, so a thick pillow is recommended for you; memory foam or latex would work best for you. Another pillow in between your legs can also help provide support to your hips.
4: Back Sleepers
Aside from being the most natural sleeping position, experts also claim that sleeping on your back is the best and healthiest for your body because it maintains the neutral position of your neck, head, and spine, therefore lessens your chances of getting aches and pains in those areas. Your face is also free from obstructions, thus lessening chances of premature wrinkles. Sleeping on the back also keeps your head elevated and higher than your stomach, thus preventing acid reflux.
If you sleep on your back, though, chances are you also snore (or at risk of snoring!). This is because the base of your tongue tends to block your airways – blame gravity – and cause you to suffer from sleep apnea.
With these pointers in consideration, you would want to use a puffy pillow – firm enough to support your head and neck, but fluffy too, to provide maximum comfort with minimum effort, because you wouldn’t want to use too many pillows. If you want to use additional pillows, put one under the arch of your back to support your spine alignment.
If you, as a sleeper, experience any sort of physical pains during your bedtime, then you need to take into consideration the type of pillows and mattresses that you use. It is important to know that these items have a significant effect to the quality of your sleep. To find out more, and to identify which pillows or pillow material will work best for you, read on:
1: Shoulder Pain
If you are a side sleeper, you might be familiar with the shoulder pains associated with strained muscles in that area. Sleeping on a flat pillow worsens the pain because your shoulder has no protection against the firmness of your bed. You must choose pillows that will allow you to sleep comfortably and relieve shoulder pain while sleeping.
Memory foam pillows are highly recommended for people with shoulder aches or injuries, they are especially made to follow the structure of your head and the shape of your shoulders, and cushions them so you get ample support. You also wouldn’t have to worry about this pillow deforming, because memory foam returns to its original shape (hence the name!), and it amazingly works for people of every shape and size.
2: Neck Pain
Experts claim that sleeping on the back or on the side is best to reduce neck pains. A pillow that is too high or too firm gives your neck too much work to do and will not be able to fully relax while you sleep. On the other hand, if your pillow is too low or too flat will also put strain on your neck.
If you sleep on your side, use a higher pillow so that your head and neck are aligned above the shoulders. Place a pillow under the neck (or a rolled towel will do) for added support.
It is important to remember that an ideal pillow has the following characteristics: fluffy, durable, and can keep your neck in a neutral position. Usually, a memory foam pillow will work best because they follow the curve of your head and neck, allowing for maximum support. Down or feather pillows and polyester pillows is also recommended – not too firm and not too soft – and available in varying thickness to suit your needs.
3: Back Pain
If you experience back pains, you are discouraged from sleeping on your stomach, and instead recommended to sleep in the fetal position. If you prefer to sleep on your back, you may want to place a pillow under your knees and another under your lower back. You would also want a firm pillow to provide the needed support for your neck and head if you would be on your back the entire night.
The most recommended type of pillow to alleviate back pain would be polyester pillows. These pillows have fillings that can easily be adjusted to fit your preferences. Back sleepers are often encouraged to sleep on pillows are that thinner than usual, so that their head is not positioned too far forward than the rest of their body.
We should recognize the importance of one’s sleeping position and how it affects our body, our posture, and our overall health. Aside from that, remembering several types of pillow materials and what works best for our sleeping habits will be beneficial for us especially in the long run.