Anyone with access to a TV and late night infomercials is aware that there are different kinds of sleepers and different kinds of mattresses to facilitate each. Many are now familiar with terms such as hard, soft, or posturepedic used to describe these kinds of mattresses. But what most don’t know, is that the same can be said for pillows, and the kind of pillow you use should be determined by the kind of sleeper you are.
Sleep is important; it recharges the body and prepares it for the next day. In order to get the full benefits of a good night’s sleep, it’s important to determine what kind of sleeper you are, and from there, what kind of pillow will work best for you to maximize the quality of your sleep.
Determining what kind of sleeper you are is up to you. As sleep and the quality of it is such a personal endeavor, you’re sleep inventory is something you will have to figure out on your own. Are you a side sleeper, a back sleeper, stomach sleeper? Are you sleeping for accommodation, maintenance or correction? Once you’ve figured out these factors you can begin to investigate the appropriate pillow for your needs.
No matter what kind of pillow you choose, you’ll want to keep your neck in as close to the natural, neutral position as possible without too much strain or angling of the neck. Side sleepers will want to find a pillow that keeps their neck parallel with the mattress as well as something between their knees to keep the spine aligned. Body pillows are great for side sleepers as they provide the necessary support and comfort for the head while also keeping the legs apart, which means using one pillow instead of two different ones.
Back sleepers will want a lighter pillow that doesn’t put elevation on your head and spine. Orthopedic (neck) pillows have a slight recess for the head while switching most of the support to the neck. Contrarily, those who sleep on their stomach will need a thinner pillow that won’t force their head back or smother them with an excess of pillow. Down pillows work well for stomach sleepers.
For many people, sleep is a means of correction or accommodating pain and there is a whole range of pillows specifically designed for back or neck issues. Foam pillows offer stronger support while also contouring itself to your body, making them ideal for people with neck injuries or shoulder injuries. Similarly, air and water pillows, which are usually adjustable, allow the sleeper to finely tune the support of the pillow, customizing it to fit the exact needs of the sleeper. Many people undergoing treatment from chiropractors or who have undergone spinal surgery will want these kinds of pillows as they try to keep the spine in its most natural position while the body works on healing itself.
Because your pillow is so specific to your needs, it’s a good idea to travel with your pillow once you’ve found the right one especially as getting a good night’s sleep can be critical while on the road. Traveling with your pillow can be difficult in some situations, but there exists a variety of travel pillows that can be used to mimic the pillow from your home.
About the author: Michelle Lim has been covering health topics for over a decade. When she’s not writing, you can find her reviewing Chicago Luxury Beds or working on her upcoming book.