Are you using the right pillow?

January 19, 2016
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Ergonomic Pillows

As we can spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping – with our head on a pillow – it is an important factor in the quality of our sleep and our spinal health.

Those with neck pain often search for a pillow which assists their pain. We know of one customer who bought 30 pillows in the years following her car accident!

There is no one ‘best pillow’. It is a very personal choice and the right pillow for you depends on what you are accustomed to, your body size, your mattress and what position/s you sleep in.

The aim of a pillow is to keep your head reasonably in line with your back and spine so that the vertebrae and soft tissue are in relatively neutral, stress free, comfortable positions.

Back Sleepers: Should not need a high pillow as this will force the head up (causing neck and upper back flexion).

Side sleepers: Need a pillow to suit shoulder width. Broad shouldered people need a higher pillow but if a narrow shouldered person sleeps on a high pillow their head will be forced upward.

Stomach Sleepers: Generally this position is not recommended for those experiencing neck pain as the neck is not in a neutral position but turned to the side. So if you need to sleep on your stomach, a low and soft pillow is best, to reduce the amount of potential neck extension and/or rotation.

Pillow Construction

What should the pillow be made of? This is a personal preference and cost may influence choice. Most pillows are made from:

Polyester/polyfill. This is the cheapest material but flattens over time. Lesser quality pillows will flatten quicker than better quality. On the plus side, the shape can be altered a little to suit your needs. Some styles allow filling to be removed or added to.

Latex rubber have a contoured shape, and retain this shape for years. Latex is more expensive but these pillows do not flatten. There are choices of firmness which is helpful.

Traditional and memory foam manufacturing is much better than in the past and foams can last a long time now. These foam pillows will be made in a contoured shape and also in different firmness options. There is even an adjustable foam pillow, with removable inserts to allow the changing of pillow height and shape.

Feather and down allows adjustability as the filling can be pushed away or plumped up. Sewn in channels will assist the shape to be retained. The more Down content the better the quality and comfort of the pillow.

You can purchase a range of different pillows from ergonomic stores such as the Back Centre, Adelaide. You can also book consultation with SAOT Consultants to asses your activities of daily living. We will come out and assess your everyday living situations and help improve your everyday ergonomics to get you back to work, or simply keep healthy and pain free. Contact us today.