What Happens if Your Pillow is Too High?
Quality sleep is an elusive commodity for millions. The complex process of attaining a quality sleep pattern can be compromised by a number of factors that you may or may not have even considered. One such factor is simply the wrong pillow. What makes a Good Pillow and sleep better?
A good night’s sleep is dependent on a healthy sleeping position and a good pillow. A good pillow will support your head in natural alignment with your spine. Only a pillow offering good support and adjustability can do this.
When your pillow is too high, it causes the muscles in your neck to stretch and takes the spine out of alignment. This will leave your neck feeling very stiff throughout the day, causing it to be uncomfortable while performing daily tasks.
If you are a Side Sleeper, the pillow will press down into your shoulder causing upper back and neck pain. To balance this out, many people tend to lift one of their legs forward, almost as if their leg was at a 90-degree angle,thus leading to lower back pain.
If your pillow is too low it will cause your neck muscles to sag into the pillow, leaving your spine curved and this will cause neck pain and stiffness.
Having the right bed pillows is not only comforting, they play an important role in supporting the intricate structures of the head, neck, shoulders, hips, and spine. When used well, pillows help in alleviating or preventing many common forms of back and neck pain, as well as shoulder, hip, and other forms of joint pain.
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Pillows serve to keep the upper body in alignment during sleep, relieving pressure and counterbalancing the points in the body. The pillow should adjust to fit one’s unique shape, curves, and sleeping position and alleviate any pressure points.
For those with spinal disorders, the right type of support can be especially important in helping the spine rest comfortably. Sufficient and restorative sleep are the body’s chance to heal itself from the postural, physical, and nervous challenges of the day.
The human neck curves slightly forward to sustain the weight of the head when upright, and it’s important to maintain this curve when in a resting position.
If the pillow is too high when sleeping sideways or on the back, the neck is bent abnormally forward or to the side, causing muscle strain on the back of the neck and shoulders. This type of position may also cause narrowing of the air pipe, resulting in obstructed breathing, and sometimes snoring, which can hinder sleep. Conversely, if the height of the pillow is too low, the neck muscles can be strained.
For people who have sleep apnea – a condition in which you stop breathing periodically during sleep – pillows can interfere with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. CPAP keeps your airway open by means of a bedside device that pushes air through a mask you wear while you sleep. If you are a side sleeper, the pillow can knock the mask off.
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The best pillow is not the same for everyone. There are several considerations for what will give you a good night’s sleep. Pillow material and feel is of course important. But something not frequently discussed is pillow height ideal for your size and sleeping position. Getting your head and neck are in a good position for spinal alignment has a huge impact on your sleep.
Determining the ideal height for your head and neck is determined by sleep position.
Side sleeper position means you want a relatively tall pillow to match your spine height raised by virtue of sleeping on your shoulder. The pillow should be fairly firm. Neutral spine alignment on your side is a straight spine.
Stomach sleepers should stay close to the mattress and need a soft, thin pillow.
The best pillows for back sleepers are right in the middle with a medium firmness and height that positions the head slightly upward from the spine. The neutral spinal alignment for back sleepers maintains an S curve.
Additionally, as a general rule if your pillow is too low, you’re going to be straining muscles as they have to work maintain alignment. If your pillow is too high, you can be constricting your air flow, essentially a crimp in your airway. As a general rule, a medium pillow height is the safest bet if you don’t have any defined preference or indeterminate sleep position. A research study found that between 3 different heights, the middle height pillow supported the head and neck the most with the least amount of muscle activation being required.
You might also consider a supplemental pillow elsewhere on your body to support good sleep posture. The position of this memory foam pillow varies by sleep position. Side sleepers can position a pillow between their legs for cushioning and to prevent twisting of the spine. Back sleepers can put a pillow under their knees to relieve pressure. And stomach sleepers can put a thin pillow under their stomach to better align their head and neck with their main pillow.
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