A good night’s sleep is essential to our physical and mental wellbeing (check out our article of the importance of sleep for athletes here); immune system, growth, brain processing all happen while we sleep, no wonder we spend nearly a third of our lives in a sleep state.
Why do we use pillows?
Whether you sleep on your back or on your side the purpose of the pillow is to fill the void between your body and your mattress so that your head and neck are supported and kept in line with the rest of your spine.
In clinic we are often asked about which pillow is best. The honest answer to that is simply that there isn’t one ‘wonder pillow’ which works for everyone, we are all different. Fortunately there are many pillow types out there; from feather and down and synthetic types we are all familiar with to micro-bead and water pillows with others in between, so you are bound to find something which works for you.
What is a good sleeping position?
The best way to determine what your sleep position is like is to get someone to help, get them to look at the way your are lying on your pillow, Is there a big gap? Is your head being stretched too far up or being pushed too far forward? Is your pillow is too high or too low? The main aim is to keep your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment and ensure your neck is supported.
The short-term consequences of poor head and neck support (aside from discomfort and a grumpy start to the day!) can range from torticolis (cricked neck) to cervicogenic headaches and more.
Do I need to buy new pillows?
To check if your feather or synthetic pillow needs replacing fold it in half and squeeze out the air as much as you can, if doing a hollow fibre pillow sit a paperback book (300g) on top to weigh it down a bit. A pillow in need of replacement won’t spring back but perhaps just creep back into its unfolded state.
Our resident sleep expert (Laura, our clinic owner who just loves to sleep!) tried out a number of specialist pillows for those of you looking to invest in a good night’s sleep – her top picks are below.
Royal Rest (Standard Royal Rest Pillow) – From £54 available direct or from Amazon http://royalrestpillows.co.uk/
Sissel Pillows (Memory foam, Orthopaedic pillow, Soft PLUS by SISSEL®) – From £75 available direct from https://www.sisseluk.com/
Bbhugme pregnancy pillow, (pregnancy, baby cushion and nursing pillow in one, comes in lots of great colours and patterns) £138.50 available from https://www.scandiborn.co.uk/
Ps. Ignore anything that talks about the best pillows for ‘front sleepers’ – don’t even get us started on why sleeping on your tummy is a bad idea!