Pillows for Different Sleeping Positions

Pillows for Different Sleeping Positions

One's sleep position will dictate how a traditional mattress top pillow can be used to provide the appropriate support.

Using a Pillow While Sleeping on the Back

When lying on the back, a pillow should support the natural curvature of the cervical spine, with adequate support under the head, neck, and shoulders.

When sleeping on the back, the height of the pillow should be lower than in the sideways position. Placing a pillow or two beneath the knees further alleviates any back strain, and is the gentlest position on the back.

Using a Pillow While Sleeping on the Side

When lying on one's side, a pillow should support the head and neck such that the spine maintains a straight and natural horizontal line. Weight should be evenly distributed so as not to create unnatural bending or pressure.

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Some people may prefer placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under their waist while lying on the side for additional support.

Using a Pillow While Sleeping on the Stomach

If sleeping or resting on the stomach is preferred, the pillow should be relatively flat, or the head should rest directly on the mattress, so that the head and neck aren't turned unnaturally to either side. In this position, it is often best to place another relatively flat pillow under the stomach to help the spine keep its natural alignment.

Over time, most pillows will begin to lose their firmness and no longer support the neck adequately. When the pillow has reached this stage, it should be replaced.

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Written by John Schubbe, DC