Where you lay your head

Choosing the right pillow for you

Choosing the right pillow can be a difficult task. It can mean the difference between waking up feeling refreshed and relaxed and waking up with a stiff neck and a headache. These days there are so many factors – from what they are made of, to density and height. How do you go about finding the right one for you?

The aim of a pillow is to keep your neck and spine in as straight an alignment as possible while you sleep. It, therefore, follows that the type of pillow you choose will be largely dictated by how you sleep. What you are looking for is the best combination of density (softer or harder), profile (height and shape) and filling (longevity and preference).


Back Sleepers

If you like to sleep on your back, aim for a pillow that is not too high or firm. Something with an indentation for the neck is ideal.

Side Sleepers

To maintain the alignment of your neck and spine, a contoured pillow is ideal for side sleepers. This means there is a higher section that sits on your neck for support and a lower section of the head. Density is a matter of personal preference for side sleepers.

Front Sleepers

Sadly, it is not recommended you sleep on your stomach at all. This position causes an arch in your back and does not allow for neck and spine alignment. If you really must sleep on your stomach – no pillow, please! If you really must – as flat and soft as possible.


Filling

There is a wide range of options here, and your decision will be based on a combination of your sleeping style and personal preference.

People with allergies should avoid feather and down pillows. For you Tencel, Latex or Alpaca are ideal. If you want to be able to wash it go for Microfibre or Polyester. If you are keen to take care of the environment, newly sustainable fillings such as Tea Tree shavings and Bamboo are a great option and have the added advantage of providing breathability. If you find yourself feeling overheated, there are even cooling gel pillows that may help keep your temperature manageable.


And lastly, some tips that are important for every pillow – regardless of size, shape or material:

  1. You only need one pillow to sleep on. If you are using more than one, it is likely that it is the wrong type of pillow for your needs. A chiropractor can look at your pillow and give you advice on whether it is suitable for your needs.
  2. Whilst you may want your bed to look like those perfectly styled beds on The Block, don’t choose your pillows because they are the fluffiest, or because they match the pillow on your partner’s side of the bed. If you must – put the pillow you sleep on at the back, so that it is hidden by the matching ones in the front.
  3. You should always use a pillow protector on your pillow and wash it as regularly as you wash your sheets
  4. Pillows need regular airing – at least once a month. Just hang them on the line on a sunny day for a couple of hours.
  5. Even with regular airing, replace your pillows regularly – depending on the filling. Your chiropractor can tell you when it’s time for a new one.
  6. There is some debate over whether you should or should not iron pillowcases. Ironing closes up the fibres, so they won’t breathe as well. On the other hand, ironing does kill any bacteria left on the pillowcases after washing. My advice? Life’s too short…

If you suffer from neck problems or feel stiff and sore when you wake up, call our Baulkham Hills clinic on (02) 9639 7337 and speak to our Chiropractor about whether it is time for a new pillow.

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