Neck Pain and Your Pillow

Just like choosing the right mattress can help with lower back pain, choosing the right pillow can help with existing neck and shoulder pain and related symptoms, such as chronic headaches. Choosing a pillow that keeps your neck in alignment can also help you sleep more soundly. What type of pillow is the best for preventing neck pain?

Just like a mattress, the best pillow provides support for your spine, yet is not too soft or too firm. A medium-firm pillow has enough softness to be comfortable and conforming, but isn’t soft enough to compromise on neck support.

The best pillow to choose also varies depending on how you sleep. If you sleep on your back or your stomach, a thinner pillow will provide adequate neck support. One that is too thick can lift your head at an uncomfortable angle and put strain on the neck and shoulders. However, if you sleep on your side most of the time, a thicker pillow can keep your head and neck in neutral alignment.

There are many different types of pillows on the market, including foam pillows, latex pillows, down/feather pillows and synthetic polyester pillows. The two most commonly used varieties are the polyester blend pillows and the down/feather pillows. The stuffing of the pillow can be chosen based on your personal preference, but the down pillows or polyester synthetic down pillows are considered a good choice for support and comfort. If you have allergies, a synthetic pillow is probably the best choice. You can also get orthopedic memory foam pillows that are supposed to keep your spine in alignment. No matter what kind of pillow you choose, make sure that you feel as though it is comfortable.

The recommended amount of time for the life of a pillow is two years maximum. If your pillow is old, it can break down and not provide adequate support. Additionally, a pillow that is a couple years old can be filled with dead skin cells, mold and dust mites and can contribute to household allergies in sensitive individuals. After a couple of years, about half of the weight of a pillow can actually be composed of these contaminants instead of pillow stuffing.

Choosing the right pillow can help you get better sleep and have less neck pain throughout the day.

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