How to Choose Your Pillow

We spend one-third of our life sleeping, something like 200,000 hours in our life.

Thousands of New Zealanders could be needlessly suffering from disrupted sleep due to lousy pillow choices at bedtime.

According to the Massey University Sleep-Wake Centre, 37 per cent of New Zealand adults aged 30 to 60 are sleep-deprived.

Several studies have shown that a proper pillow selection can significantly reduce neck pain, upper and lower back discomfort, headaches, shoulder and arm pain, and restlessness.

It would also improve the quality and duration of sleep. Chiropractors at Orewa Chiropractic believe that more education around pillow and bed selection could lead to a better quality of life.

It is essential to choose a pillow that is of material and a shape that suits your sleeping position.

Choose the filling.

Today the choice is vast. There are now pillows on the market made from memory foam (developed by NASA) or natural latex/bamboo, which has been shown very effective for neck pain suffering and improving sleep quality. However, they can be a significant initial investment.

Polyester filling, less expensive than down and memory foam, provides proper support and holds its shape reasonably well. However, it is also the least durable of these materials.

Consider your sleep position.

The way you sleep will affect the height of your pillow; different positions require different types of support.

Back and stomach (not recommended) sleepers may want to choose a flatter pillow that helps keep the natural curvature.

However, if you sleep on your side, a higher pillow, which fills the gap between head and neck, is generally better. We have all different necks, with varying widths of the shoulders. That’s why there isn’t a standard “best of the World” pillow.

The point is to have the cervical spine (neck) aligned with the rest of the body spine, not allowing any head tilt. It doesn’t need anything contouring the neck or with a specific edge; sometimes quite uncomfortable. Orthopaedic or ergonomic isn’t necessarily a reference.

Take special needs into account.

You’ll find plenty of specialty pillows on the market tailored to specific situations. For example, people with allergies might think about a pillow with a cover and filling specifically formulated to keep away dust and mites.

If you snore, consider a pillow-shaped to position your head and neck in a way that will prevent your airway from becoming compressed.

If you are in any doubt, book a visit with one of our chiropractors at Orewa Chiropractic. We will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.


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