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The pillow you sleep on every night will influence your spinal alignment. Having an incorrect sleeping position may be the cause of your sleepless nights and stiff ache mornings. Poor sleeping posture will place unnecessary tension and pressure on your spine, nerves and muscles. It will likely prevent you from having a good nights sleep and will lead to you waking up often. Complaints such as neck stiffness and headaches can be attributed to an incorrect pillow.
The purpose of using a pillow is to support your head and neck in a neutral position, so it is aligned with the rest of our spine. Variables such as sleeping position, body frame and spinal health will affect the required pillow height. It is important to identify your dominant sleep style, this will influence the type of pillow you should consider.
Side position– You will generally require a thicker pillow, as the space between your bed and neck is greatest in this position. The pillow will also need to be firmer and there should be no gap between your neck and the pillow to ensure adequate support. A pillow that is incorrect in width will result in neck tilt in either direction which may contribute to neck stiffness and headaches.
Back position – Your pillow will need to be thinner to ensure your head isn’t elevated forward. The pillow should support the natural curvature in your neck, this is where a contour pillow will be of preference to some people. The curve in the pillow follows and supports the natural cervical lordosis (neck curve).
Tummy position – You should look for a very thin pillow. No matter how good the pillow is, this position is less than desirable for you neck and will most likely result in neck stiffness in the morning.
Always make sure you test the pillow in store on a mattress that is similar to your own. If you have someone with you, get them to check the alignment of your spine while on the pillow. Make sure you replace your pillow as soon as it starts to loose it’s support. A good guide is every 12-18 months.