One of the first questions I often ask a new client with neck pain: what is your sleeping position and what kind of pillow are you using?
The importance of pillows was confirmed for me when I recently spend a week sleeping on a firm foam pillow while a guest at someone’s home. It reminded me why I usually take my pillow when on a car trip. Not only was it much harder to fall asleep, I woke with a stiff neck every morning.
While I’m not insisting that one type of pillow is right for everyone, there are a few things I can say.
1) Sleeping on your stomach is not good for your neck. Sorry, I too sometimes enjoy the comforting feeling, but after a few minutes I have to change or risk crippling pain. They say that moms of a certain era always put their babies face down so we came to associate that position with being taken care of.
2) Pillows that are too high put your neck in an unnatural position.
3) Firmness is not for everyone. Some people like a firm pillow but it has to be just the right height for you. This includes memory foam pillows.
4) At some point your pillow wears out and you should invest in a new one.
My favorite pillow type is down, because it can be shaped to the contours of your head and neck, and the height that you need based on whether you are sleeping on your side or on your back.
No matter what type of pillow you prefer, your sleeping posture is just as important as your working and leisure posture in keeping you happy and pain free. Whether you prefer side-lying or supine, make sure you are supporting your knees, shoulders, and neck and using a good quality mattress with no sagging. Start the day with a bounce instead of a limp.