Is it better for your neck to sleep without a pillow? This is a very commonly asked question. In this blog we will discuss why you need to use a pillow and how to decide on which pillow to use?
If you suffer from neck pain you might have been advised not to use a pillow or you might not be in the habit of using a pillow. However you should use a pillow to avoid neck pains and especially if you have neck pain. Lets first discuss what happens when you do not use a pillow. If you are a back sleeper your head tilts backwards as the back of our head is not in the same plane as the upper back. There is a little bit of a distance between these two areas, which makes the head tilt backwards. This can lead to various problems ranging from neck pain to arm pain due to pinching of the nerves in the back of the neck to a poor posture.
If you are a side sleeper there is a big gap between the tip of your shoulder and the side of our head. A pillow is needed to bridge this gap or else the head tilts excessively to one side. To avoid this you might put your hand under the head. This manages to put the neck in a neutral state but the arm muscles and muscles of the shoulder blade are activated throughout the night and cannot relax, putting an excessive strain on them. This gradually builds up as the nights go by and may lead to other problems in the area such as upper back pain and arm pain.
It is very important to use a pillow to avoid all these problems. But it is also crucial to use a pillow of proper height to be able to support your neck in a neutral position and at the same time keep your arm, upper back, shoulder blades and neck completely relaxed during your sleep. If you are a back sleeper the height of your pillow should be equal to the distance between your upper back and the back of your head. If you are a side sleeper the pillow thickness should be equal to the distance between the tip of your shoulder and your ear lobe.
If you are one of those people who alternate between side sleeping and back sleeping at night the solution for you is to use a contour pillow that is thick on one side and thin on the other side. This helps you to maintain your neck in a neutral position irrespective of your sleeping position. HERE are some of the pillows that I have used and liked.
If you are looking for some more helpful tips to manage your neck pain, watch this video:
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Please note that the advice given in this blog does not apply to you if you have medical condition such as eye surgery or sleeping on your stomach after certain injuries or surgeries, where a doctor has advised you not to use a pillow.