The Correct Pillow Height & Sleep Position
by Grant Bullion, Massage Therapist at Reflex Spinal Health:
Unfortunately, too many people use the “That’ll do” concept when choosing a pillow. This can more often than not be the cause of a lot of back & neck pain. On the flip side of that, just buying a pillow because it’s very expensive isn’t the right option either.
There are a few elements to take in to consideration when choosing the correct pillow. They are;
These factors, taken together, is what you need to use to find correct pillow height. For
example, a larger person, who is heavy, sleeping on a soft mattress would sink in to the mattress, therefore not requiring a larger pillow. Whereas a Large person who is not heavy in weight sleeping on a firm mattress would need a higher pillow to accommodate the gap between shoulder and neck/head.
“Always bring your Pillows Up to your Head, rather than taking your Head down to your Pillows”
If you were to Google “What is correct pillow height?”, it would tell you that if you sleep on your back, a 5” pillow is required. If you sleep on your side, a 5-7” pillow is required. It even says about front sleepers. Although this is not advised, due to the neck being in a Rotated-Tilted-Extended position, often with the arm of whichever side the head is facing, elevated, causing neck & shoulder muscles to be held in a shortened position for a long period of time.
Side laying is the most advised position to sleep in. Purely because with the right pillow, and mattress density, your spine can be kept aligned, and muscles in their neutral position.
When laying on your side, make sure that the pillow is in your neck, not just your head. This supports the neck as well as the head, and with the right pillow, can ease some of the pressure sustained by the shoulder in that position. It can also be recommended to roll a Hand Towel up, and place it in front of your pillow to act as your neck support. This gives the same Ergonomic shape as the Orthopaedic Pillows.
If you are lying on your side have both of your arm relaxed and in front of you. You may gently bend your legs as well to be comfy. What position are your shoulders in? If you are relaxed and your shoulders are perpendicular to the bed then the pillow is the correct height. If your upper shoulder is rolling forward towards the bed, then the pillow is too low. Conversely, if your upper shoulder is rolling backwards then the pillow height is too high for you.
At Reflex Spinal Health we recommend the Harley Designer Plus Pillow. This is a memory foam pillow, wider than normal, and with a raised ridge down the front of the pillow. Why have we chosen this pillow? A number of years ago Clinic Director & chiropractor, Andy Green, trialled a range of pillows and gained feedback from a range of patients. By far the best feedback was for the Harley pillow.
Is this pillow the correct size for everyone? No, however this is easily correctible. For people with wider shoulders it may be needed to have a little more support. For sleeping on your back this pillow should be perfect for the vast majority of people. When sleeping on your side we recommend having a thin polypropylene pillow as well, to place under the orthopaedic pillow, to just raise enough to ensure you have those perpendicular shoulders.
We keep a number of these pillows in stock at our fantastic spinal health clinic in Caversham, Reading.
“Essentially the aim of a pillow is to ensure that you maintain a straight, neutral, spine position while you are in bed. Thus correct pillow height is essential for all.”
Ensuring good quality sleep is very important. As a centre that is passionate about spinal health and wellbeing the Reflex Spinal Health team know how important this subject is. Benefits which come from good quality sleep include:
I am sure that you will agree with me that all of these are essential to a healthy, and happy life. If you have any questions about sleep, pillows and ensuring correct pillow height please ask of of the Reflex Spinal Health team when you are next in for a treatment. Any of our team of fantastic massage therapists, chiropractors and osteopaths would be delighted to give you advise.
17 Church Road, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire RG4 7AA
Reflex Spinal Health are a passionate, dynamic spinal health team. We are committed to help as many in our community of Reading, Berkshire and South Oxfordshire to enjoy the vitality of great health, to reach their health goals and feel truly alive! Our chiropractors and osteopaths offer the highest standards of care in a superb environment.