It may be that the pillow you already have is absolutely fine and it could be other factors that are causing neck and back pain whilst you sleep.  This short video takes you through the important elements to consider with your pillow and how you lie on it.   In addition we talk through 2 types of pillow and their individual merits.

How to Choose the Correct Pillow

As therapists we are often asked should I sleep on one pillow or two? However that question can’t be answered because it depends on the size of the pillow/s you are sleeping on. So by the end of this article (the video above will give far more clarity) you will know what factors you need to check to ensure you are getting the best chance of a good nights sleep.

Because we spend so many hours sleeping in bed, if the pillow height isn’t correct it’s going to cause problems in the long-term. Whether that be pain and tension across the upper back into the neck, lower back, headaches or waking up with that feeling of a tight band around your head that leaves you a little bit muzzy headed.

So the first thing that you really need to take into consideration is the bed that you’re sleeping on.  Your mattress needs to be soft enough to give for your hips and shoulders, keeping your back in a nice straight line.  When you are lying in bed, you should be able to completely relax and your mattress should hold you in place. Your torso should not roll or twist at all.

Choose the right pillowOnce you know that your mattress is right, your pillow needs to be an extension of this so that your neck is in a straight line with your spine.  Your pillow needs to fill the space between your shoulder and your neck. The video above shows the difference between a pillow that is too thin and one that is too thick.

When a pillow is too thin it causes your head and neck to drop below horizontal. This can cause pressure in and around the neck which often leads to neck pain.

With a pillow is too thick/high it causes the opposite problem creating a compression on the joints on the upper part of the neck and tension on the muscles on the underside.  All of which affects the ligaments and the muscles and cause pain and tension over time.

That is why it is so important to make sure that your pillow is correct. Now thankfully there is a solution in the form of neck or orthopedic type pillows. The video above talks you through in more detail about the pillows in the Sittingwell range.

The Royal Rest pillow has a contoured edge to it so it’s higher one side than the other, with a nice hollow in the middle. Your head fits in the hollow area so that your neck is supported whether you’re lying on your back or your side. Additionally there is a higher side and a lower side, which means that this pillow can pretty much cater for most sizes. The side you would choose depends on your height and the width of your shoulder.

Royal rest memory foam pillow
Often the perception is that memory foam is quite firm. The Royal Rest pillow squishes nice and easily (see the video at the top of the page). This is fabulous because it means that as you’re lying on it, the memory foam gently cradles and supports your neck and then when you come off it just returns back to its original shape.

The main difference between the two Royal rest pillows we stock is that the foam pillow doesn’t have as long a life as the memory foam pillow. So as an example, when these pillows first came out I (Rachael) had the foam pillow.  This started to show signs of wear after about 2 1/2 years whereas the memory foam pillow I’ve had for about 3 1/2 – 4 years now and it’s still going strong.  So although it is a bigger investment you pay for the longevity ultimately saving money in the long term.

If you have never slept on a pillow like this before, then with the foam pillow being a lower cost then it can just be a better starting point. But just bear in mind that in the long run, it won’t last as long.

Choose the right pillow stop neck pain

Our last example is the Putnam’s Memory Foam pillow. It has the same shape all the way through and has a nice cutaway for the shoulders, there is also a slight hollow for your head to fit into. The main difference with the Putnam’s pillow is the memory foam is slightly firmer. So if you prefer that type of feeling then this could be the pillow for you.

Personally I (Rachael – at 5ft 1in) find the Putnam’s pillow a little bit too high, whereas  Lorna (She is 5″ 8′) finds this absolutely perfect for her. So again, if you have a smaller frame or narrower shoulder width, then you’re probably better off with the Royal Rest pillow.

So hopefully that’s answered most of your questions. If you have any more then please do get in touch info@sittingwell.co.uk.  Otherwise, I hope you’ve enjoyed the information and happy pain-free sleeping.