Sleeping style affects pillow choice

A good night’s sleep can determine daytime performance, general well-being, health and longevity. One of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep is the right pillow.

Not all pillows are created equal; a pillow that works for one person might not work for another. An effective pillow should support the head and neck comfortably so a good night’s sleep is ensured. It should be able to mold itself to the individual’s unique contours and sleep position, alleviating any pressure points.

Though we all toss and turn to some degree throughout the night, most people favor a definite sleep position — and that’s the one they’re in when they fall asleep. The preferred position also determines which pillow firmness will deliver the best support.

Back sleepers

Back sleepers need a pillow that will support the natural curvature of the upper spine, providing support under the head, neck and shoulders. A pillow with medium firmness is an ideal option. The back sleeper style cradles the head and neck with two types of support. The outer chamber provides neck support while the center cushions the head.

Side sleepers

Side sleepers should look for a pillow that supports the head and neck so that the spine maintains a straight and horizontal line. A firm pillow provides neck support.

Stomach sleepers

Stomach sleepers need a pillow that is relatively flat so their head and neck aren’t turned unnaturally to either side. A soft pillow is specifically designed extra soft to accommodate stomach sleepers.

Density, firmness, fill options

A pillow’s density determines how much support it can provide for your head and neck. Down or feather pillows are softer than structured pillows containing chambers, but they do not provide as much support.

The cylindrical chambers inside some pillows are densely packed with fill to give the pillow a firm core. The softer surrounding material provides comfortable cushioning. Together the inner chambers and outer fill material complement each other to provide evenly distributed comfort and support.

In pillows containing synthetic filler, firmness depends on how tightly the filler material is packed. A pillow packed with more filler than another pillow of the same size will be denser and firmer, providing more support.

What can happen if you’re sleeping with the wrong pillow?

The worst thing a person can do is hyperextend the neck when sleeping. If someone is sleeping with the wrong pillow, extra pressure will be put on the spine or shoulders because the neck is at the wrong angle or the pillow isn’t holding the head up far enough. The neck should always be aligned with the spine. It’s important to find a pillow that provides enough support and elevates the head above the bed.

Once a new pillow is purchased, it may take a week or two to get used to it.

Information courtesy Lands End

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