You thought it might be a good idea to check out that manky squashed pillow you have and consider a replacement. Argos – you can’t see them.  Ikea – there are a million. How do you choose?

So you checked out Tracy’s earlier post on how important sleep and a good mattress are.  You looked at your mattress and you need a new one.  You went and got a new mattress and you love it! And now your neck hurts.  Why?

The main reason people choose a pillow is comfort but what is it about ‘comfort’ that is ‘comfortable’ ? A healthy sleeping position for your neck means that it is not overly bending one way or another when you lie on your back or side.  What position is best for your back is another story, and also very personal to you.

Most people who sleep on their backs need a relatively thin pillow – just enough to pad the back of the head so it feels nice.  A pillow that is too full or fluffy ends up stretching and straining the back of the neck and compressing the front. That is because your neck is already relatively neutral if you are laying on your back without a pillow at all and anything extra just moves your head and neck out of its comfortable resting position.

People who sleep on their sides need a thicker pillow to hold the neck roughly ‘level’ with the rest of their spine when they are sleeping. The mistake people often make when sleeping on their sides is to place the pillow under their shoulder as well as their head, which means the pillow isn’t able to support the head in a neutral position.  The head will ‘dangle’ down toward the bed – and you can wake up feeling sore or with a ‘crick’ in your neck.  A bit of variation is fine – don’t obsess.

If you tend to sleep in all positions, you might ideally have two pillows.  One flatter one for when you’re on your back or front, and a thicker one for on your side.

If you’ve got any concerns about your pillow or your sleeping habits and how they might be making your back or neck pain worse, book in for an appointment at backpainwestlondon.co.uk and ask Tracy for some tailored advice.