There can be many causes for back pain ranging from an automobile accident to a sports injury to genetics. One household item you may not consider could be a major player in keeping your back pain free - your pillow.
You hear all the time that getting 8 hours of sleep is important to your overall health, but what often gets left out is that you need 8 hours of good sleep for it to truly benefit you. Not only does getting enough sleep every night refresh your body, helping you be focused and productive the next day but it also helps support your immune system. Alternatively, not getting enough quality sleep is linked to increased inflammation in the body which can exacerbate existing causes of pain. So, how does your pillow play into this?
When you are sleeping, regardless of the position, the goal is to have your spine in a neutral position. This contributes to deeper, more restful sleep. If your pillow is not the right size or shape, you may find yourself sleeping in a position that is causing you aches and pains, not only during the day but throughout the night, too.
If you experience neck pain or stiffness during the day or are waking up from it during the night, your pillow may be the culprit. The wrong pillow can also cause back and shoulder pain as well.
Finding The Right Pillow
When you sleep on your back, it is very easy to have a pillow that is too big, causing your neck to strain forward. On the other hand, it is also easy to select a pillow that is too soft and does not provide enough support, so your neck strains backward.
The ideal pillow for back sleepers is one that has a medium firmness and retains the natural curve of your spine. This allows the muscles in your neck to stay relaxed throughout the night. Additionally, in order to relieve some of the strain in your lower back, a small pillow that slides under your knees at a relaxed, natural bend is a good idea. This alleviates some of the pressure that is put on your lower back when you are lying flat.
People who prefer to sleep on their sides will likely have more difficulty retaining alignment throughout the night, so the right pillow is all the more important for preventing back pain. When you sleep on your side in the correct position, it can actually reduce a significant amount of strain on your neck and back.
The ideal pillow for side sleepers will be larger and firm than that for people who sleep on their back. You need something big enough to bridge the gap between your shoulder and ear while on your side to retain a neutral alignment.
Keeping the pressure off your lower back and hips when sleeping on your side is another issue. Pulling your knees up towards your stomach is actually great for relieving pressure on your lower back, but we often find that those who prefer to sleep on their sides tend to slide into unnatural positions in an effort to relieve pressure. Reducing back pain for side sleepers can be as simple as adding an additional pillow between the legs to keep the hips aligned - whether that be a specialty pillow designed specifically for that purpose or a body pillow that keeps a more restless sleeper in place, this is a great option for reducing neck and back pain and getting a great night’s sleep.
Sleeping on your stomach offers the least amount of support for your lower back. Additionally, a traditional sized pillow is often too large and forces the neck to strain backward when sleeping on your stomach.
The ideal pillow for stomach sleepers is sometimes no pillow at all. If you do prefer a pillow, we recommend a thin pillow that is softer in firmness so that you can minimize the strain that is put on your neck. You may also want to consider an additional thin pillow to place underneath your hips and offer your lower body some support.
No matter which position you prefer to sleep in, it is important to have the right pillow. With these tips, you will find yourself getting a better night’s sleep and experience less back and neck pain. If you're interested in improving your sleep cycle, contact Ideal Health Chiropractic today to learn more.