Your choice of sleeping support is important for reducing muscle and joint aches and pains, especially if you are mainly affected on waking. Our pillow choice affects the alignment of our neck, shoulders and spine throughout our sleep cycle. A poor choice in pillow can be like a poor choice in shoes – if you stand around in uncomfortable shoes for 8 hours a day you are bound to end up with muscle tension and soreness. This also applies to your mattress.
So how do we choose the perfect pillow?
Sometimes you can be lucky and find it on your first try, but generally it can take a bit of searching and experimenting before you get it right. Here are a few handy hints to help you in your search:
- Look for a pillow that holds it’s shape – like memory foam
- Don’t go for anything too expensive if you’re not sure it’s the right one for you – remember you might need to try a few to find the right one.
- Remember that it might take a week or two to adjust to a new pillow, so if it ticks all the boxes and it’s comfortable most of the time, hang in there and give it a week to a fortnight for your body to adjust
- Always try out the pillow in the shop – most places will have a display bed you can test your pillow on. If there is more than one bed, choose the one with similar firmness to your own bed.
When testing out a pillow:
- Side sleepers – your new pillow should fill up the space between your ear and your shoulder without any collapsing or folding through your shoulder joint. Your neck should also remain quite neutral which means your head shouldn’t be side flexed towards either shoulder – your neck should be at a right angle from your shoulders.
- Back sleepers – choose a medium height pillow that keeps your head and neck quite neutral e.g. not so high it tilts your head too far forward but not so low that it extends your neck and tilts your chin up.
Finding the perfect pillow and a good mattress will help minimise aggravation of joint and muscle tension issues. However, if you have a longstanding issue, you may like to speak to a Physiotherapist first.