One of the best parts of falling asleep at night is snuggling up to your favorite pillow. For some, it’s the fluffy part of the bed that their head can sink into, while for others, they prefer something a bit firmer for better posture throughout the night. If you’ve ever woken up with back pain or neck pain, you’ve likely considered that you have chosen the wrong pillow for your body.
Waking up with stiffness in your neck, shoulders, or back is an unpleasant feeling and makes it difficult to go back to sleep in the middle of the night or a challenge to get up in the morning to start the day. While the cause could be physical issues or your choice in mattress, in many cases it’s actually the pillow causing the problem. Take a look at why many are actually choosing to ditch their pillow instead.
What does nature have to say about it?
To begin, it’s important to remember that you weren’t born using a pillow. Infants and toddlers are not using pillows and yet adults have adapted to expect a pillow for a comfortable night’s sleep. Even in nature, the only animal using a pillow under their head to sleep is the human, while no other animals require a prop to sleep.
How pillows got their start
While it’s always important to look at why we do the things we do that affect our health, sometimes it can help to look at where things started and how they have evolved. Pillows were actually used first by the ancient Mesopotami or modern day Iraq around 9,000 years ago.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t anything soft like we use today; they were using pillows made of wood or stone to offer support and elevation for the head. Rather than using a pillow for comfort like we do today, they were creating a way to elevate their heads to avoid insects crawling into their ears and the wealthy wanted a way to prevent anything from happening to their elaborate hairdos. It eventually became a status symbol for the affluent to own more than one pillow.
Eventually, people in Europe ran with the idea and added a soft option with the help of Roman and Greek cultures. Only the wealthiest had pillows and they were shown off as decoration before eventually turning into something everyone could get. Today, it has become a modern necessity that we can’t live without despite its start as something many didn’t own.
Should I be using a pillow?
While it functions nicely as a sleep aid, many are choosing ones that are too big, too thick, and too fluffy to be healthy. While these are beautiful and comfortable, they aren’t working well with our physical bodies and can affect the spine. An overly fluffy pillow can be tolerated on the side, but laying on the back can cause the head to move into strange positions which hurts the neck muscles and the health of the spine.
Since the best sleep position is on the back with the head held in a neutral position, the verdict is that no pillow would be the healthiest way to sleep. Only a small amount of neck support would need used which could be done with a rolled up towel. This small cushion will help with the natural curve of the cervical spine without being as drastic as a regular pillow. Your regular pillow would not be able to cradle the head right which means your cervical spine is bending forward.
If you are a side sleeper, the pillow only needs to be as thick as your shoulder while your head and neck would need to be in a neutral position, accomplished by the firmness of the pillow. Using your arm may be the best solution if you can’t find a neutral position for your head using different pillow options. If you still don’t want to part with a regular pillow, you can use it between your legs to keep your hips and thighs in a neutral position while you sleep.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of ditching the pillow, you may just need to retrain your head and neck on proper posture while sleeping. Use these tips to make sure you are sleeping with the proper pillow for your health.
If you are confused about which pillow is best for you, ask us.