KASS JONES, PT, DPT
Kass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“What pillow do you recommend?”
One of the most popular questions I get from those suffering neck pain, stiffness and headaches.
My answer…drumroll please…
There isn’t one. I know, not the answer you were looking for. You were probably hoping for a direct link to the perfect pillow so you could just ‘add to cart’ and be on your way to the best night’s sleep ever.
Pillows are not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Kind of like mattresses. What may be the best mattress for one person, could be a horrible mattress for someone else. Unfortunately, finding the right pillow for you may take some trial and error.
My husband is a farmer and suffers from chronic neck pain and headaches. I have seen him go through numerous pillows in search of the right one for him. Most recently, I think it took him 4-5 months before finding one that worked best for his body. The good news is for anyone staying in our guest bedroom, there is a selection of pillows like you are walking down the aisle at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Here is the best advice I can give you when trying to find the best pillow for you and your body type.
Consider your Body’s Alignment
Do you sleep on your back? Side? Stomach? All the above? Figure out the position you spend a majority of your time in. This will help determine the approximate thickness of a pillow that may be best for you.
You want to find a pillow that keeps your neck in the most neutral position. This will help decrease stress on certain parts of your joints as well as muscles. As a general rule of thumb, if you sleep on your side, you will need a thicker pillow, on your stomach a thinner pillow, and on your back somewhere in between. But again, everyone’s anatomy is different, and the thickness should be based on how well it assists your spine in maintaining its natural curvature.
While reviews are helpful, remember, not everyone has the same anatomy as you and not everyone sleeps in the same position as you. There have been an increasing number of pillows with a “natural” curve in them that claim to give the best support. Where are they getting the measurements for this “natural curve”? Are they going off the average human?
How about Cost?
More expensive does not always = better. However, if you find the pillow that is right for you, don’t be afraid to splurge a little bit. After all, if you sleep 8 hours a night x 365 days of the year that’s 2920 hours spent sleeping, or roughly 121 days of the year. Don’t be afraid to try them out in the store. If you can’t find a place to lay down, try putting it up against a wall. Look for pillows that have a return policy.
The above are guidelines and do not address individual factors. It is best to ask your physical therapist for recommendations based on your anatomy and sleeping position(s).
KASS JONES, PT, DPT