Firm or soft? It’s the pillow talk that has puzzled most sleepers for ages. Is there a right answer? And what is best for your neck?
Let’s face it: all you want is a good night’s rest without waking up with a stiff neck. The problem is that when you lay down, your neck doesn’t remain in the same position as when you’re standing. It tends to slump backward which causes sustained tension in neck muscles. Here is some advice about pillows to avoid that pain in the neck!
Firm pillows are recommended by sleep experts if you suffer from allergies or have chronic neck or back pain. A latex pillow – either foam core or granulated – is firm and offers good support. In fact, studies have found that testers prefer latex pillows over polyester and feather pillows for both comfort and sleep quality. That’s because they not only provide significant support for your head and neck, they can also last up to 20 years and are resistant to dust mites.
Cushy soft pillows, on the other hand, do not provide much support. Nevertheless, they are a good choice if you tend to sleep on your stomach. If you’re shopping for the softest pillow, you may want to consider “getting down” with a down pillow. Filled with the undercoat of a waterfowl, these pillows are fluffy and light. Another soft and lightweight choice is a feather pillow that is filled with small and highly curled plumage. Although a feather pillow needs to be shaken and fluffed to keep its fluffiness, it’s flexible, durable, and provides a flexible cushion.
So which pillow is best for you? It all depends on your sleep position.
If you tend to sleep on your back, you want to rest on a pillow that’s firm enough to support your neck, but at the same time soft enough to conform to the shape of your head and cradle it comfortably. Also, you may need a pillow that is slightly raised on the front edge to help reduce snoring. In that case, your best choice is a medium size natural and/or organic latex pillow.
If you tend to sleep on your side, you’ll feel more comfortable with a large, thick pillow that occupies the space between your head and the mattress. That’ll help keep your head and neck aligned with your spine. You should use a high pillow so that you can keep as much pressure off your shoulder as possible or a pillow with a specific indentation for your shoulder. However, the pillow shouldn’t be too high or it’ll tilt your head forward, or too low which will tilt your head backward and hurt your neck.
If you tend to sleep on your stomach, you require very little support to align your neck and spine. In this case, use as thin as possible pillow to avoid neck pain.
Whichever pillow you choose, insert it in a zipped pillow cover before placing the pillow in a pillowcase. Wash the pillowcase and cover often, especially during allergy season. Be sure to clean your pillow every few months and consider replacing it every two years for continuous comfort, or when it loses its shape.
Bonus tip: Never roll up a feather pillow or store it in a ball; the feathers will break and lose their fluff; the same is true of down-filled sleeping bags and comforters – when storing them, do not compress, pack loosely in a mesh bag to let the feathers breathe. Compression should only occur when in motion, for example, if you are hiking or moving.