I believe that pillows are important for a good night’s sleep.

As a physio, a common question I ask is “how many pillows do you sleep with?”  This is because I’m interested in the neck position overnight. Sleeping for 6-8 hours in a sustained abnormal position can lead to or at least contribute to some of the aches and pains that people walk into my clinic with.

So, the sizes of pillows are important?

Well, in short, yes. However, to quantify this we need to look at the individual, their size and form, their quality of sleep and also any injury they have. How many and what size pillows are important. For example, an 8 stone woman should not be sleeping with the same size and number of pillows as a 16 stone man.

The Great British Sleep Survey of 2012 showed that 67% of respondents rated bodily discomfort as the highest factor keeping them awake at night. Now this could be any part of the body, however, I think it demonstrates that comfort is paramount to us when we are trying to get some shut eye.

How important are good pillows for your sleep

Why is sleep so vital?

Lack of sleep causes poor concentration levels, increased weight gain, fatigue and increased stress and anxiety levels.

We sleep for around a third of our lives. So using the average life expectancy that’s about 26.5 years that we spend asleep. It’s crazy to think that we have loads of different clothes and shoes, but mainly use the same pillow for ever!! Why don’t we place as much emphasis on our comfort in bed, as we do during the day?

What is the correct amount of pillows?

Comfort is key here. As a general rule of thumb you need to maintain as neutral a position for your neck as possible.  So going back to our 8 stone lady; one average sized pillow is probably going to support her head and neck comfortably in a nice neutral position. Using the same pillow with the 16 stone gent would probably cause him some discomfort as he will be flexing his neck to relax into the pillow.

How important are good pillows for your sleep

How often should you change your pillow?

There is no hard and fast rule. But I think that as soon as a pillow goes lumpy or gives you more restless night’s sleep than restful over the course of a week then it’s time for a change. Different pillows are important, then you can switch them. This means your neck and back muscles won’t get too used to the one particular pillow. Also another tip is to take your pillows away with you. This way you won’t be left trying in vain to feel rested during your holidays when sleep and relaxation are the things you crave the most.

Remember, pillows are important. Change them and update them like you would your shoes. Don’t be caught out!

(image credit: babble, atticmag, savvyrest)


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