All about pillows

How to choose the right pillow?

Pillow is a very individual thing. There is no one pillow or one brand that fits all. A higher price doesn't guarantee a better night's sleep. The best way to choose a pillow is to lie down and try if possible.

The material needs to be bouncy to support the neck. It means that when you make an indentation in the pillow, it should come back pretty fast. Some elderlies in my family once like to use pillows filled with tea leaves for certain health benefits. That is absolutely not bouncy, and wouldn't be comfortable if you already have neck problem.

If you sleep mostly on your side, a slightly higher pillow would be more comfortable, but that also depends on the width of your shoulder. The pillow needs to support your head and neck into a neutral position when you are lying on your side, meaning that you shouldn't feel your head is tilted downward or upward when you are lying down on the pillow. That's why the best way to choose a pillow is to lie down and try.

The shape of the pillow is up to each individual's preference. A Contoured pillow may be savior for one yet disaster for another. Sometimes the most ordinary and cheap pillows work the best. Again, you have to lie down and try to be sure that's the pillow for you.

Can I sleep without a pillow?

Sleeping without a pillow is not a good idea, especially if you like to sleep on your side. Without a pillow, the head and neck will be tilted to one side for hours. A lot of muscles are put on stretch in that position. Do you remember the feeling when you last did a sit and reach? Would you like to keep your body in that amount of stretch for hours? Probably not. Then why would you put your neck muscles under that amount of stretch throughout the night?

Can I sleep on my tummy?

Sleeping on your tummy is not a good idea either, and should be avoided if possible. To be able to breathe, one will have to turn the head to one side when lying on the tummy. Thus the neck stays at end range of rotation for prolonged period of time. It is almost a guarantee that your neck will develop some kind of soreness or pain if you have a habit of sleeping on your tummy. With or without pillow doesn't really make a difference in this case.

Is my pain due to my pillow?

Pillows are commonly blamed for neck pain. But a lot of other things can cause neck pain as well, leaving the innocent pillow to be blamed. Neck pain is only likely to be related to the pillow if pain is more prominent when lying on the pillow, or when first get up in the morning. If pain only worsens with day time activities, then it is unlikely to be caused by your pillow.

How frequently should I change my pillow?

If you are buying an expensive pillow, they probably come with advice on how long it can last, sometimes up to 5 to 10 years. However the cheaper ones, like normal hotel pillows, should be changed once they are losing their bounciness, which is usually within 1 year. When a pillow loses its bounciness, it is unable to support the neck any more. One way you can try to extend the lifespan slightly, is to turn the pillow from time to time so that you are using different areas of the pillow.

So if you have some neck pain, more prominent when lying on the pillow or getting up in the morning, and you have been using one same pillow for years, which is not bouncy any more, try getting a new pillow first to help to relieve the pain.