A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a text message to inform me that he wasn’t going to be able to make it to a concert we had previously planned on attending, due to a painful stiffness of the neck he had been experiencing for the past few days.
He told me that he had recently started using some new pillows he had purchased for his bed, and that’s when he actually started to experience slight headaches, stiffness of the neck and other discomforts in the neck and arms upon awakening.
No doubt, pillows are designed to help us sleep comfortably. You may place a pillow between your legs, under your knees or under your head to help eliminate some of the stresses off your spine (from the cervical to the lumbar region) which may lead to pain and aches. However, according to the experts, when it comes to choosing a pillow to support your head and neck, if your pillow is not the most suitable type for this job, this can certainly lead to waking symptoms.
Let’s take a look at the importance of a good pillow in the prevention of waking symptoms in more detail. We will also look at a few recommendations from the experts,examples of some good pillows,and how to shop for pillows.
Why You Need a Good Pillow
Based on findings, the role of a pillow whilst sleeping is to support the cervical spine in a neutral position. Maintaining the head and neck in a neutral position is believed to help reduce biomechanical stresses on cervical spine structures which can compromise pain-sensitive structures and cause waking symptoms, such as cervical pain and stiffness, headache, scapular or arm pain.
If you are an individual who currently have been experiencing any of the above waking symptoms, it’s very important that the next time you go shopping for pillows, you base your choice of pillows not only on price(the inexpensiveness or expensiveness), firmness, fluffiness, softness, flatness and size, it’s also important that you choose a pillow, that offers maximum comfort, sleep quality. Last but not least, you should not overlook the construction quality of the pillows.
3 Recommendations from the Experts
1. Use a flat pillow to support your neck, especially when shoulders are broad.
2.Avoid using a high pillow as it may strain your neck, arms and shoulders.
3.Avoid using feather pillows.
4.Use soft pillows which support the cervical lordosis (natural curvature of the cervical region of the spine), and pillows with a sleeping neck , as they both offer effective relief for waking pain. This finding was based on a late study on the effect of different pillow types for subjects with chronic neck pain.
The above study was also able to provide sufficient evidence in support of rubber pillows in the management of waking cervical pain, and also to improve sleep quality and pillow comfort. The rubber pillow allegedly performed better than subjects’ own pillow in most cases.
However, there were some similarity found in the performance of subjects’ own pillow and that of the foam and polyester pillows. Due to lack of evidence, the researchers where unable to conclude whether or not a foam contour pillow has any advantages over regular shaped pillows.
How to Shop for Pillows
If you are currently experiencing pain upon waking up, such as stiffness of the neck, cervical pain, headache, scapular or arm pain, it might be just the time for you to consider changing pillows, because you current pillows might not be supporting the head and neck efficiently.
2)Pub Med.gov: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health