If you’re not sleeping well the position of your pillow could make a big difference, especially if you regularly wake up feeling stiff or if you suffer from a joint problem such as arthritis.
Waking up feeling that you haven’t had a good night’s sleep or feeling that you’re not refreshed and ready to face the day is a common problem and there are many causes. So if you’re looking for an answer, correct pillow positioning is a good place to start. It will mean that your joints and muscles are in the correct alignment and therefore relaxed. They won’t have been ‘working’ to hold your limbs in an odd position. When your muscles have been tense all night you wake feeling tired and stiff.
Getting a good night’s rest when you have a muscle or joint problem like rheumatism, arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis can be even more difficult because lying still for a long time is uncomfortable.
This guide aims to help you get the rest you deserve.
Most of us have a favoured sleeping style – on our back, on our side or on our stomachs. In any position, the spine should maintain its gentle ‘S’ curve as you sleep.
For stomach sleepers:
While sleeping on the tummy isn’t good for babies and will probably be uncomfortable for adults after a heavy meal, many people naturally prefer to sleep on the front.
Putting a pillow under your hips will take any pressure off the lower back and help to maintain the S curve we mentioned above.
For side sleepers:
This is a very common sleeping position as the foetal position is the one we spend the first 9 months of our lives in – in the womb, as the name suggests.
Having a pillow that keeps the head and neck aligned will help to prevent snoring if you’re prone to this. If the tongue or soft palate flops into the airway at the back of the mouth they can block or partially obstruct it and the noise of the air trying to get past this is snoring. If the airway becomes blocked you may have sleep apnea which can have serious health consequences.
Anti snoring pillows are available and many of these are designed to keep the snorer on his/her side.
The right pillow in the right position for your head will also prevent any tension in the neck which might lead to headaches.
To keep the hips aligned and comfortable, place a pillow between the knees, which will also prevent tender joints rubbing as you sleep.
A body pillow may also work well if you have shoulder and/or hip pain or are pregnant. It’s like a long over sized pillow that lets you rest your arm and knee (and bump).
For back sleepers:
If you sleep on your back the soft tissues of the mouth can fall to the back of the throat and cause snoring and/or sleep apnea, as described above. So if you wake feeling more tired than when you went to bed, sleep apnea may be the cause and a sleep apnea pillow may help. Ask your sleeping partner if you snore very loudly – if s/he hasn’t told you already!
To relieve pressure on the lower back, put a pillow under the knees to support them if you sleep on your back.
Getting pillow placement right.
You may need to experiment a little with the exact position and the size of the pillows you use. A plump pillow for under your knees if you’re a back sleeper will be better than a thin one, and a flatter one for under your hips if you’re a front sleeper may be better.