Whether you sleep on your back, side, stomach, or somewhere in between, the ideal neck (orthopedic or cervical) pillow should comfortably support your natural spinal curves. People who sleep on their backs should have a pillow of low to medium thickness/loft. This will maintain a neutral neck position, while anything too low or too high will cause the neck to be out of alignment with the spine and will probably be uncomfortable.
Those who sleep on their sides should have a pillow of medium to high thickness/loft to maintain neutral neck position. Again, it’s important to avoid a pillow that is too high or low. People who sleep on their stomach usually do best with a thin pillow or no pillow at all. The common mistake to avoid here is having too high of a pillow, which will result in a crooked neck. If you sleep in different positions throughout the night, such as both on your back and side, it may be a good idea to have different pillow types on your bed to accommodate the different positions.
The firmness of your mattress has much to do with how a pillow performs. A firm mattress needs a thicker pillow. This is because your body will lie higher and not sink far into a firm mattress and consequently, your pillow will need to have more loft or thickness. By contrast, a soft mattress needs a thinner pillow because you will sleep lower by sinking into the bed and will consequently not need much pillow height. If the firmness of your mattress is between firm and soft, you’ll likely need a pillow of medium thickness.
Some pillows are better at relieving pain than others, including neck and shoulder pain. Pillows that provide effective contouring support tend to perform best on this issue. Latex and memory foam pillows tend to help alleviate pain the most while down alternative, polyester, down and feather offer less relief from pain. Latex, memory foam, down, down alternative and gel pillows generally rate higher for comfort among side, back and stomach sleepers.
Allergens such as dust mites, mold and mildew as well as perspiration and saliva can cause pillows to become unhealthy in one to two years. Hair and body oils soak into the pillow covering and fill which can create a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria and allergy triggering dust mites. Using a pillow protector can double the life of your pillow. Old pillows can also contribute to improper neck and spine alignment resulting in neck and leg pain. Poor neck alignment can also cause headaches.
Let us help take the confusion out of selecting a proper mattress and pillow for a healthy, restful night’s sleep.