As a leading spine surgery center in Los Angeles, we know how easy it can be to wake up with a kink in your neck after a poor night’s sleep. Ideally, you want a pillow that keeps your head and neck in a neutral alignment so your neck isn’t bending too far forward or backward. Improper alignment can place added pressure on any of the seven bones that make up your cervical spine, sometimes resulting in aches and pains felt when first waking up. Before buying a new pillow, however, think about which one is likely to provide the support you need.
Consider Your Sleep Position
Get started by considering your sleep position. If you’re a side sleeper, select a pillow that provides support between your ear and the mattress. If you’re a back sleeper, pick a pillow that will prevent your head from bending backward or forward as you drift off to sleep. As far as firmness goes:
- Side Sleeper: A firmer pillow tends to provide better support.
- Back Sleeper: A thinner pillow with an upward inclination (loft) towards the bottom will cradle your neck better.
- Stomach Sleeper: A thin pillow is a wise choice for stomach sleepers; also a pillow under your stomach can minimize lower back pain.
Weigh Your Stuffing Options
The type of pillow stuffing that’s best for your neck depends on how you’re feeling. A pillow that provides the right support for your cervical spine when you’re dealing with persistent aches may not be all that comfortable when your neck pain vanishes. Popular stuffing options include:
- Foam: A high-density foam material is likely to be more durable without breaking down with use.
- Memory Foam: These popular pillows are specifically designed for neck support, although some people find that the material retains too much body heat.
- Down Feather: If you want something with more flexibility, feather pillows can shift support to where you need it.
After you find the right pillow, consider your sleep position, which can also contribute to your neck pain. If you’re a stomach sleeper, make an effort to shift to sleeping on your back or side for a better upper and lower back alignment. Should your neck pain become worse, even with a new pillow, see what your doctor has to say.
To learn more about spine health or for help understanding the cause of your ongoing back or neck pain, reach out to the board-certified spine physicians at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at (310) 828-7757 today.