Recently I have woken up every day with an incredibly sore neck. Since I usually sleep the same way, I was wondering if my pillow was the problem. Spine-health.com explains how sleeping position and the right pillow can alleviate sore neck issues.
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).
Best Pillow for Sleeping on your Back
When lying on your back, a pillow should support the natural curvature of your spine, with adequate support under your head, neck, and shoulders. When sleeping on your back, the height of the pillow should be lower than when lying in a sideways position. Placing a pillow under your knees further alleviates back strain.
Best Pillow for Sleeping on your Side
When lying on your side, a pillow should support your head and neck such that your spine maintains a straight and natural horizontal line. Weight should be evenly distributed to avoid unnatural bending or pressure. Some people may prefer placing a small pillow under their waist while lying on the side for additional support.
Best Pillow for Sleeping on your Stomach
If you sleep on your stomach, the pillow should be relatively flat so that your head and neck aren’t turned unnaturally to either side. In this position, you can also place another relatively flat pillow under your 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.
The key to avoiding neck and back soreness and stiffness is to find the right pillow for your sleep position, in addition to adding support pillows for maintaining the most neutral body position. Make sure you replace your pillow as soon as you start waking up with a sore neck, shoulders, or back. It might also make sense to train your body to sleep in a different position. Sleeping on your back is the most neutral position and can prevent neck and back pain.