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10 Hidden Role of Pillows in a Good Night’s Sleep

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Sleep is a vital part of our lives, accounting for about a third. Sleeping in an optimal environment is crucial since sleep quality significantly affects our health. One of the key elements of this environment is our bedding, including mattresses, blankets, and pads. In this article, we are delving into pillows, the items on which we rest our heads.

The pain right after waking up?

Do you wake up with a sore neck, shoulders, or back? If so, the height of pillows and usual sleeping position are the keys to answering the question of your pain. Ignoring these pains can lead to chronic issues and deteriorate the quality of your sleep. If you’re sleeping in an incorrect position, it’s advisable to correct it. Replacing them with ones that suit you would be the best option if your pillow or bedding is the issue.

What if the pillow is too high?

If your pillow is too high, it can cause various musculoskeletal problems. Our neck bones, which should always maintain a C-shape, become straightened when resting on a high pillow, causing pressure on the cervical nerves and blood vessels. Therefore, it’s better to use a lower pillow that allows the neck bones to maintain their C-shape during sleep.

What about a low pillow?

A low pillow helps maintain the natural curve of the neck and spine, giving a lighter feeling as the back straightens during sleep. However, a pillow that’s too low can cause the head to be lower than the spine, increasing intraocular pressure and potentially leading to glaucoma. Furthermore, caution is needed as a low pillow can also put tension on the shoulder’s trapezius muscle, leading to neck and shoulder stiffness the next day.

The material is also important

The material of the pillow is also a crucial factor. If the pillow is too hard, it can press on the nerves around the neck and narrow the blood vessels. On the other hand, if the pillow is too soft, it can sink under the head’s weight, which is not ideal. Among various pillow materials, memory foam is recommended for those with neck pain as it provides adequate cushioning and pressure relief. Goose feather, while light, soft, and very smooth, sinks under the head’s weight, making it unsuitable for those who sleep on their side.

What if you have a neck disc problem?

If you have a neck disc problem, there’s an additional factor to consider when choosing a pillow. If the pillow height is inappropriate, it can adversely affect the spinal nerves, worsening your symptoms. Therefore, if you have a disc problem, choose a pillow that allows your neck to bend slightly forward. A pillow that’s too high can hinder fatigue recovery during sleep, potentially leading to chronic fatigue.

What if you mainly sleep on your side?

Commonly, people sleep on one side. In this case, the pillow’s most crucial role is to relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips while keeping the head aligned with the spine. A pillow with adequate support is more suitable than a too-soft pillow that allows the neck to sink.

What if you sleep flat on your back or stomach?

Sleeping flat on your back allows you to toss and turn into other positions, so a thick, firm pillow is most suitable. Regardless of the position, the neck and shoulders should be aligned, and the natural curvature of the spine should be maintained, so a pillow of moderate thickness is ideal. If you sleep on your stomach, your head and neck should not be bent upward to maintain a neutral spine alignment, so a soft, low pillow is most suitable.

Different types of pillows

While we typically consider pillows rectangular, many sizes are now available. A lumbar pillow, similar to a regular pillow, supports the small space between the mattress and your back when lying down, providing comfortable support for your spine. Contour pillows support the neck muscles and allow the neck to rest naturally without pressure or tension. The most significant feature of a contour pillow is that it is designed with two different slopes to fit under your neck.

What about a body pillow?

Pregnant women often use a body pillow due to its ability to relieve pain and discomfort. A full-body pillow is large enough to put between your knees and rest your belly. It helps pregnant women find a comfortable sleeping position, prevents tossing and turning, and ensures that sleep quality does not deteriorate.

Appropriate pillow replacement period

Pillows should generally be replaced every 1 to 2 years. Regularly washing your pillowcase can keep it clean from sweat and oil, allowing you to sleep comfortably for a more extended period. Additionally, it can be challenging to wash your pillow daily, so choosing one with antibacterial properties can make maintenance easier.

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