Can Neck Pillows Be Used In Bed?

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There is a lot of debate over whether or not neck pillows should be used in bed. Some people swear by them, while others believe that they are not necessary and take up space. So, what is the truth? Can neck pillows help improve your sleep? Or are they nothing more than a waste of money? Keep reading to find out!

As a general rule, using a neck pillow in bed is not a good idea. A neck pillow can make the cervical curve more pronounced, putting more pressure on the spine. The best time to use a neck pillow is during the day when you’re seated. A traditional pillow at night would be best to avoid strain on your neck.

If you’re wondering if you should use a neck pillow in bed, I believe I can help. For over 30 years, I’ve been practicing chiropractic, and during that time, I’ve also trained as an ergonomist. I have a published book on posture, spoke on this subject on national tv, and have engineered several solutions to help people achieve better posture and comfort while sitting. In addition, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of my latest project, a set of ergonomic seat cushions. With all this experience and expertise, I’m confident I can offer some helpful insights into using neck pillows in bed.

Does Sleeping with a Neck Pillow Help Posture?

Sleeping with a neck pillow may help to support your head and neck, but I have found that it is unlikely to improve your posture. For side sleepers, a contoured natural latex pillow can help to fill the space between the shoulder and the mattress, preventing the head from falling forward. For back sleepers, a standard thinner pillow can help maintain the spine’s natural curve and prevent the head from tilting too far forward or back. However, no matter what type of pillow you use, keeping your spine in alignment and avoiding muscle strain is essential. An adequately supported head and neck are necessary to maintain good posture while sleeping.

Should I Sleep without a Pillow If My Neck Hurts?

tension neck and jaw

Anyone who has ever suffered from neck pain knows it can be a real nuisance. The discomfort can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep, exacerbating the problem—many people struggling with neck pain wonder if sleeping without a pillow might help.

While there is minimal research on the topic, some sketchy reports suggest that it can be helpful for some people. I’m afraid I, however, have to disagree. I think pillows are essential to getting a good night’s sleep. They help support the spine and keep the head and neck in alignment. Without a pillow, it’s easy for the spine to get out of alignment, leading to even more pain.

Of course, everyone is different, and it’s important to experiment to see what works best for you. If you decide to try sleeping without a pillow, make sure to use a mattress that provides proper support for your spine. You may also consider using a body pillow to help keep your spine in alignment.

(I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.)

Which Pillows Are Best for Neck Pain?

If you suffer from neck or shoulder pain, you know how difficult it can be to find a pillow that provides the perfect balance of support and comfort. Too firm, and you’ll end up with aching muscles; too soft, and you may as well be sleeping on a pile of pillows. After trying out hundreds of pillows and searching for the perfect one for my neck and shoulder pain patients, I’ve found that the best pillow for neck and shoulder pain is medium-firm enough to hold the head at a healthy angle but soft enough to alleviate pressure points.

I’ve also had the most success with my patients using a contoured natural latex pillow, as these materials offer the best balance of support and pressure relief. On the other hand, memory foam, PU foam, and feather pillows have proven ineffective in relieving my patients. If you’re looking for a pillow to help ease your neck and shoulder pain, I recommend giving a contoured natural latex pillow a try.

How Are You Supposed to Use a Neck Pillow?

I believe that you shouldn’t. The manufacturers tell us that we should wrap the U-shaped pillow around our neck with the open side in front. I have also tried several different inflatable neck pillows, and I have to say that I have not been impressed. In theory, these pillows support your neck and shoulders, preventing stiffness and pain.

(Below) are examples of these types of cheap memory foam pillows:

cheap memory foam neck pillows

However, in practice, I have found them to be somewhat uncomfortable. The pillow often feels too hard and doesn’t mold well to the shape of my neck, resulting in a less than ideal experience. I also find that the pillow often slips out of place, leaving me without any support. Overall, I would say that neck pillows are more trouble than they’re worth.

Is a Neck Pillow Considered a Personal Item?

I have noticed that wearing your travel neck pillow as you are boarding won’t be a personal item. However, I don’t recommend these types of pillows. Baggage is regulated; large pillows are considered part of your luggage. However, while walking through the airport, you are much less likely to be noticed with the pillow around your neck.

In addition, most airlines allow passengers to bring one small personal item onboard, such as a purse or laptop bag. So, if you can fit your neck pillow into one of these bags, you should be able to bring it on the plane without any issues. While technically, a neck pillow may not be considered a personal item, it is usually possible to bring one on board without any problems.

I was surprised how similar cheap memory foam seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!

Why We Should Not Use Pillow While Sleeping?

stiff neck pain made worsewith neck pillows

Some experts believe that if you sleep on your stomach, you might want to avoid using a pillow. The reason for giving this advice is that it can put pressure on your lower back and neck. It can also make it difficult for you to breathe correctly.

Sleeping on your stomach is generally considered to be bad for your back. This position is unrealistic because it can strain your spine, neck, and muscles. Sleeping on your stomach can also cause you to snore. If you are a stomach sleeper, you might consider using a pillow designed specifically for this position. Some pillows are designed to support your back and neck while you sleep.

Should Your Shoulders Be On Your Pillow?

Maintaining a neutral spine is essential for minimizing pain and injury while sleeping. Your pillow should support your head and neck, keeping your spine neutral. The best way to do this is to keep your shoulders just below the bottom edge of your pillow so your body remains flat. This will minimize neck and back pain by ensuring that your spine isn’t positioned in an awkward way throughout the night. I designed a pillow (above) that cradles the shoulder that allows you to maintain proper alignment for a good night’s sleep.

Where Do I Put My Pillows When I Sleep on My Side?

When you are a side sleeper, you need to have a pillow that goes from the top of your head to your shoulder and the curve of your neck. This is because when you are lying on your side, there is ample space between those three areas, and the pillow needs to fill it in so that you are comfortable. There are a few different types of pillows that you can use for this purpose, but the most important thing is that you find one that is the right size and shape for you. I incorporated bolster layers in my ergonomic pillow designs to accommodate different body types (above).

If you have a too-small pillow, it will not fill in the space appropriately, and you will not be comfortable. If you have a too big pillow, it will be uncomfortable and cause you to wake up with a sore neck. The best way to find the right pillow for you is to experiment with different types and sizes until you find one that feels perfect.

What Is the Healthiest Sleeping Position?

sleeping correct to avoid shoulder pain

The healthiest way to sleep is on your side or your back for most people. Sleeping on your stomach can cause spinal misalignment and pressure on your muscles and joints, leading to pain. In contrast, sleeping on your side or back allows your spine to rest in a neutral position and gives your muscles and joints a chance to recover from the day’s activities. This, of course, depends on the quality of your mattress and pillows!

In addition, sleeping on your side can help to prevent snoring and sleep apnea, two conditions that can disrupt your sleep and compromise your health. Talk to a sleep specialist if you’re unsure which sleep position is best for you. They can help you find the position that will allow you to get the most restful sleep possible.

What Is the Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain?

correct position to sleep

When you sleep, you want your head and neck to align with your spine. I found that the best sleeping positions for neck pain (or shoulder pain) are on your back or your side. The back is excellent because it keeps your spine in a neutral position. But if sleeping on your back hurts your lower back, try placing a pillow under your knees.

If you’re a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees to keep your hips level. Make sure that whichever way you sleep, you use a pillow that supports the curvature of your neck and a flatter pillow to cushion your head. That way, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.

Is It Better to Sleep with One or Two Pillows?

Over the years, many of my patients believed that a stack of pillows was necessary for getting a good night’s sleep. But according to my research, this is counterproductive. The ideal number of pillows for most people is just one. This may seem counterintuitive, but there are a few reasons it’s the best option.

First, multiple pillows can lead to neck and back pain by putting your spine out of alignment. Secondly, they can cause you to overheat during the night, leading to restless sleep. And finally, they can create a barrier between you and your partner, making it challenging to snuggle close. So if you’re looking for the perfect bedtime setup, stick with one pillow. It’s the key to a good night’s sleep.

Conclusion

The verdict? On rare occasions, a neck pillow may help improve your sleep if you use it for the right reasons. If you are a back or side sleeper struggling with neck pain, a pillow between your knees or a body pillow may help to align your spine and decrease discomfort. However, if you do not have any issues with your sleeping position, there is no need to add another bulky pillow to your bed. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you want to give neck pillows a try – but they may not be worth considering if you are experiencing pain while sleeping.

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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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