When we look at the fact that we sleep for on average between 7-10 hours a day it is surprising that it is an area that many people know little about. While people invest large amounts of time and money into choosing the correct mattress, they often spend little time and money on their pillow!
What do we need to know about pillows?
One of the most important considerations about pillows is their “useful life”. While we change our mattress every 8-10 years on average, our pillow needs changing much more frequently. Over time, our pillows can become breeding grounds for bacteria as we constantly breathe directly onto them creating a moist environment. As a result it is best to change your pillows every 3-5 years and to try to air them out in direct sunlight on occasion.
The height of your pillow should directly reflect the distance between your shoulder and neck, as well as the neck curve itself. If your pillow is too high or too low it can create the same stress on the neck that poor posture does. When lying on your side, the pillow should support your head in a neutral position ie. the neck should be in line with the rest of your spine, and not tilted. When lying on your back the pillow should fill the space between your neck and the bed and you should not be able to see your feet. If you can see your feet the pillow may be too high which exacerbates forward head postures.
A simple trick is to lie down on your pillow and ask someone to take a photo of your head and neck relative to your shoulders. This way you can make sure that your neck posture is supported while you sleep.