How to Find the Right Pillow for You

Melissa Weaver
Melissa Weaver Physical Therapist at AHS

How to Find the Right Pillow for You

The best pillow is any pillow which keeps your spine in good alignment in your preferred sleeping position and one which is made of a comfortable material you can tolerate all night. 

To begin with, ask yourself which sleeping position you favor the most? Side, back, and stomach sleepers will need different support. 

Thicker pillows are recommended for

  • Side sleepers to keep the head and cervical spine neutral 

  • Those with a larger curve in their mid back (also called thoracic kyphosis) and those with severe forward head position

  • People with acid reflux

Thinner pillows are best for

  • Back sleepers to keep spine neutral. If the head doesn’t feel supported enough, roll a hand towel lengthwise and place it beneath your pillowcase for support at the base of your neck.

  • Stomach sleepers. Side or back sleeping is better in general because stomach sleeping can cause increased strain on the neck, upper back, and jaw but if you can’t fall asleep in another position, opt for a thin pillow.

What you will look like sleeping on the right pillow!

No matter what the shape of the pillow is whether standard or contoured or what material it is made up of, make sure your head and neck stay in a neutral position as much as possible. You may need time to adjust completely to a pillow and may need to alternate between your new and regular pillow before fully switching but be sure to stop using a pillow if you wake up with headaches or neck pain.


5 Tips for Restful Sleep at Night

  1. Set a routine. Sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.

  2. Stay active but avoid high-intensity exercise 1 hour before bed. 

  3. Stop drinking coffee after lunch if you think caffeine is affecting your sleep. The half-life of caffeine (time taken for the body to eliminate one-half of the caffeine) is 5-6 hours on average.

  4. Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark. Avoid blue lights 2 hours before bed.

  5. Avoid daytime naps. If you need a nap, limit it to 20 to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.


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