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How Your Pillow Affects Your Sleep

Nothing is more important than a good night’s sleep, but if you’re waking up feeling less than perfect, you might think it’s your mattress, but the real problem might be right under your nose. If you have the wrong pillow for your sleeping position it can have a bigger effect than you’d expect.

There is no perfect pillow. What type of pillow you require, its height, firmness, and shape are mainly determined by what position you’ll typically be sleeping in. It’s vital that your neck is supported and is in alignment with your spine. When you don’t have enough support, or when you have too much, It can put pressure on the neck, shoulders, and spine. This pressure can lead to, or exacerbate neck pain, headaches, hip pain, shoulder issues, snoring, and wheezing.

Experts recommend that you replace your pillow every twelve to eighteen months. As it ages it can collect skin cells and dust from the environment, and moisture from your breath at night can promote growth of fungus, and mildew. By the time that it needs replacing these can account for nearly half of its weight. All of these foreign agents can be bad for your respiratory health, so if your pillow is two years old, or older, it’s time to get a new one.

If you’re a side sleeper

According to research, you’re probably a side sleeper since 75% of us spend our nights snoozing this way. It’s the most common sleeping position, and is generally considered to be the one that is best for your neck and back. In order to get the best sleep on your side you’ll probably want a taller pillow to fill the space between your head and the mattress. It will need to be thick enough to keep your head level and keep your neck in line with your spine. You don’t want to get one that’s too thick though, or it can bend your neck causing more strain. You should also consider a firmer pillow, as the weight of your head can cause the padding and foam in your pillow to collapse, which will keep it from supporting your head properly. Side sleepers might want to consider a second pillow between your needs or for under your arm so that your. Whole body is supported, and to keep pressure off of your shoulders and hips.

If you sleep on your back

About 15% of people sleep on their backs, and if you’re one of them, a thinner pillow is probably right for you. You only need enough height to hold the back of your head up off of the mattress sufficiently to create a comfortable head position. If it’s too tall, your pillow can force your neck forward which will put strain on muscles, discs, and nerves is the back of your neck. You’ll probably want a pillow that’s a little softer, but also one that provides plenty of support. This is because your head will tend to turn to the left or the right over the course of the night as you sleep on your back, and the right pillow for you should be solid enough to hold your head straight.

Sleeping on your stomach

Consistently sleeping on your stomach isn’t recommended. It can bend your back into an unnatural position, and staying that way all night can cause wear and stress on your neck and spine. If you are going to be spending most of your time sleeping on your stomach, you’ll probably want to get a thinner pillow. One that’s too thick can bend your back upwards, which will increase the likelihood of aches, pain, and numbness. You should also have a second pillow under your hips or lower abdomen to keep your back level. When you’re sleeping on your stomach, you’ll also tend to breathe into your pillow, which can cause it to get pretty warm. In order to help you stay cool, look for a pillow with a fill material that breathes well, and that doesn’t retain as much heat.

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