The average person spends over 50 hours a week sleeping, and many people are sleeping in positions that increase muscle tension. Ideally when laying down your neck should be supported and kept inline with your spine. One of the most common problems we see is the pillow people choose for sleeping. Keep reading to find out our best tips for choosing a pillow to reduce neck pain!
Neck pain is something we often see in our clinics. Many times this neck pain is not caused by injury, but by general muscle tightness and stiffness, whether from time spent on the computer, looking down at a phone or sleeping in a way that puts more strain on your neck.
Choosing a Pillow:
How you like to sleep will greatly impact the type of support that your neck needs to be in the correct position. The most important factor is finding a pillow that keeps your neck in proper alignment as you will be spending an extended amount of time in that position.
Side sleepers should choose a medium to high profile pillow, either from latex or memory foam as this will provide enough support to keep your head in line with your spine as you sleep on the side.
If you experience lower back pain as well as neck pain, you can add a small pillow in between your knees to better support your spine as well
In general, we recommend people stay away from stomach sleeping due to the increased risk of back pain, but if you absolutely need to sleep on your stomach choose a low profile soft pillow. This will help avoid your head being higher than your shoulder which will increase pressure on your neck.
Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions to sleep in as it evenly spreads out your body weight and keeps your spine in a neutral position. The best pillow for back sleeping will have a low to medium profile and keep the neck supported without lifting it above your chest.
If you find yourself with lower back pain, adding a pillow under your knees will help to reduce “sway back” or increased lower back curve.
All Around Sleeper:
If you find yourself frequently changing positions throughout the night, it is best to get a softer medium profile pillow that can be adjusted to a wide variety of sleeping positions. For example, if you get a high profile memory foam pillow meant for side sleepers when you roll on to your back you will find your head tilted too far forward. Choosing a softer pillow means it can be manipulated for different sleeping situations.
If you try these tips and are still struggling with neck pain while sleeping or upon waking up, it is a good idea to check in with a physiotherapist. Many times chronic neck pain requires treatment to go away and may need additional strategies in additional to finding an ideal sleeping position.