Pillow Support and Comfort

It is a very comforting feeling to have just the right pillow to rest an achy, tired body on. In addition to providing comfort, the right pillows can also provide the necessary support for the neck and spine - alleviating or preventing many common forms of back pain and neck pain.

Main Benefits of Pillows

Use of a pillow while sleeping has two main functions:

  • Support: From a physical perspective, pillows prop up the head, neck and shoulders - keeping them in alignment, relieving pressure and counterbalancing the points in the body.
  • Comfort: From a more subjective perspective, pillows create a feeling of comfort, which aids in getting a good night’s sleep and feeling well rested.

Mattress Top Pillow

The traditional pillow is the mattress top pillow - used to provide support for the head, neck, and upper spine while the body is lying in bed in a resting position. For optimum support, it is best to select a pillow that has the following characteristics:

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Pillow is designed to keep the spine in natural alignment
The human neck curves slightly forward (to sustain the weight of the head when upright), and it’s important to maintain this curve when in a resting position. If the height of the pillow is too high when sleeping sideways or on the back, the neck is bent abnormally forward or to the side, causing muscle strain on the back of the neck and shoulders. This type of position may also cause narrowing of the air pipe, resulting in obstructed breathing, and sometimes snoring, which can hinder sleep. Conversely, if the height of the pillow is too low, the neck muscles can also be strained.

Based on the body’s measurements and personal preference, the pillow should maintain a height of 4 to 6 inches, properly supporting the head and neck (and shoulders when lying on back).

Pillow feels comfortable
A large part of what makes a good pillow is personal preference. If the pillow feels comfortable, it’s likely to help one relax, get a good night’s sleep, and feel well rested in the morning. The pillow's surface can also be a source of comfort - some people prefer a pillowcase with a cool, smooth feeling (such as cotton), some prefer warmth (such as flannel), etc.

Pillow is adjustable
To help the pillow conform to various sleep positions, it is best if the pillow can be adjusted to fit the unique shape and curves and sleeping position of the user. A pillow should mold to one’s individual shape and alleviate any pressure points.

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Written by John Schubbe, DC