Having the right pillow is one of the most overlooked aspects of attaining a good night’s sleep. Being well rested has unquestioned physical and psychological benefits and the proper pillow selection can help. The wrong choice may worsen neck and shoulder pain as well as arm numbness (1). Although the right pillow will not necessarily eliminate these problems if they already exist, it will not contribute to or be the source of additional discomfort. Additionally, the right choice increases overall comfort which results in more restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Even a good pillow needs to replaced on a fairly frequent basis. Some experts recommend as often as every 12 to 18 months. But generally speaking, after two years it should definitely go. At this age, skin cells, mold mildew and dust mites can make up nearly half of a pillows weight.
When purchasing a pillow, take into account your sleep position.
*Back sleepers: A thinner pillow is generally recommended so the head is not positioned too far forward. It should also have enough softness to cradle your neck to create both support and comfort.
*Side sleepers: Typically, a little firmer pillow is best for most side sleepers. This allows distance to be maintained between the ear and the outside shoulder.
*Stomach sleepers: A thin pillow is best suited for most stomach sleepers. For some, no pillow at all may works well. If this is the case some experts have recommended putting a pillow under your stomach to prevent lower back pain (2).
(2) Baylor Health Care System
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