The human neck curves slightly forward, it is very important to maintain this curve when in a resting position. If the height of the pillow is too high or low when sleeping, your neck is bent abnormally out of alignment, causing muscle and joint strain. When you lie on your side with your head on the pillow, your spine should be in a straight line from your neck to your low back. When you lie on your back, your spine and head should line up in the same way as when you stand up. Your chin should neither be tucked in nor your head tilted backwards.
No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position. Many pillows collapse under the weight of your head, or aren’t thick enough in the first place. Using a thicker pillow or two pillows does not compensate for most pillows’ lack of proper neck support. Many people even fold their pillow in half when attempting to compensate for a pillow that is too soft.
The type and number of pillows used will depend on how wide the shoulders are to the neck, the sleeping position and personal preferences. Physionorth offers a variety of orthopaedic pillows and our trained staff will be able to assist you in making the right choice for you.
Choosing the right mattress for you:
If you are buying a new mattress, it’s vital to try it before making the purchase – you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on and mattresses are no different, especially as we all spend such a large amount of our lives in bed.
If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard).
The main thing to keep in mind in regards to your sleeping position and pillow is the proper support of your neck and spine. You want a pillow that conforms to and supports the curve of your neck with enough firmness to support your head without collapsing. It is fine to sleep on your back or your side (or both) as long as your spine is kept in a neutral position and not bent out of alignment.
If you have any questions or would like individualised advice and recommendations, please don’t hesitate to contact Physionorth to make an appointment with one of our qualified Physiotherapists.