While choosing the best pillow is of course an important step in obtaining blissful sleep, so is using the pillows properly. Many users assume that as long as they follow the instructions (often sparse) in the accompanying booklet, they can guarantee their body a good night’s rest. While it is of course important to follow instructions, there are a number of tips and tricks to use your pillows effectively that can provide just about anyone a shortcut to dreamland.
Tips and tricks for the Side Sleeper
- Use moderately thin pillows – Pillows that are excessively thick tend to push the head forwards, making the body uncomfortable and causing excess strain on the neck. Hence, a moderately thin pillow that keeps that head between the shoulders and the neck in a neutral position is best for side sleepers.
- Use a side pillow of moderate firmness – While the foetal position is the most common variant of the side sleeper’s posture, a wrong foetal position can lead to multiple health issues. One of the correctives for this is to use a side pillow between the shoulders and the knees that will be able to prevent the body from curling up too much and thus causing the spine to bend to an unnatural degree.
- Extra Pillow for soft beds – Given that one side of the body has to bear our entire weight, soft or sagging mattresses can also cause the body to sag and thus lead to discomfort and the feeling that one is “sinking” into the bed. To avoid this, a thin pillow below the standard one is advisable to prop up the head, and thus the neck, at a proper angle. Alternatively, you can use a contoured pillow to find the right height for your head.
Tips and tricks for the back sleeper
- Avoid use of multiple pillows – Back sleepers tend to require as neutral a spinal position as possible since the spine bears the weight of the body. If you are a back sleeper, tips and tricks to use your pillows effectively would include using a thin single pillow that just about props up your head. Don’t use too fluffy or rigid a pillow as this would cause undue strain on the neck by either pushing up the neck at an unnatural angle or worse, causing it to “sink” in and create an odd angle with the head and spine.
- Use a pillow between/under the knees – Minimizing the stress on the lower part of the spinal cord might require the use of a pillow between or under the knees. This pillow may be of any firmness but it should be large enough to ensure that the lower spine is not unduly bent by either a soft mattress or unnatural sleeping position.
Tips and tricks for all types of sleepers
- The 1.5 Pillows Trick – If you are having a hard time finding a pillow that seems to offer the right thickness and/or firmness, take the pillow you find most comfortable and place a towel or two over it. Lie down and check whether you feel more comfortable. Continue this process till you find the optimal comfort zone. Take the towels and stuff them into the pillow cover, either on top or around the pillow itself. This would create a firmer pillow.
- Change your pillows at regular intervals – While some pillows may seem extremely comfortable, the body does need some change from time to time, especially if the older pillow is starting to sag. To this end, you should keep 2-3 pillows and change from one to another at regular intervals of about 6 months to a year.
- Keep only the neck and head on the pillow – Avoid placing your shoulders on the pillow as this distorts the natural curve of the neck by placing your upper torso at the same height as your head. If you’re tall, this means you would have to push up the pillow against the headboard and in this case, you should go in for a comparatively smaller pillow.
As the above tips and tricks to use your pillows effectively suggests, most tips are universally applicable and even better, do not depend on a certain material or pillow size. Further, as we have seen elsewhere, choosing a pillow is not much of a hassle either. Hence, once you have figured out your needs, choosing and then using the pillows effectively can be a short and pleasant task that allows you to drift off to a comfortable sleep that can refresh your mind and body to take on the tough schedule and hectic lifestyle that are part and parcel of living in the 21st Century.