Today is world sleep day and poor sleep is one of the most common difficulties people face when recovering from mental health problems.
Improving the quality of your sleep during difficult times can bring some very welcome relief to other symptoms ( depression and anxiety ). It’s clearly a two-way street and everything you can do to help get a better nights sleep will give you great rewards.
As part of our “Recovery Lifestyle” series we have invited specialist writer, Rachel from ‘Pillow Picker‘ to share how choosing the correct pillow can make such a difference to the quality of your sleep:
How to Choose the Right Pillow for your Sleep Position
In this article, Rachel, a sleep specialist from Pillow Picker shares with us her top tips for choosing the right pillow and getting a better night’s sleep.
Having suffered with neck pain and insomnia most of my adult life, I know how badly a lack of sleep affects us. When we suffer from discomfort, often, the first thing people do is blame their mattress and begrudgingly spend hundreds of pounds on a new one. I’m here to tell you, you might want to consider upgrading your pillow first! Here’s why…
The Effects of the Wrong Pillow
Sleeping 8 hours every day with a misaligned spine is a shortcut to chronic neck pain. Not only that, it can put pressure on your hips, back and shoulders, causing issues later on. Choosing the right pillow for your sleep position is one of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen!
Sleeping on your side can bring a whole host of benefits, so if you’re a regular side sleeper you’re in luck! Improved digestion and better circulation are just a couple of the benefits you can expect to see from regularly sleeping on your side. However, if your pillow doesn’t support you properly, your back, shoulders and neck will pay the price.
If you’re a side sleeper, I recommend a medium to thick pillow. This is because when sleeping on your side there is a larger distance between your neck and the mattress, which needs to be filled in order to keep the spine straight. Thick and firm is the way to go when it comes to side sleeping – shredded memory foam is a great choice of material as it holds its shape throughout the night but doesn’t get too hot.
Back sleeping is another healthy and comfortable sleeping position, and there’s a huge array of pillows on the market specifically designed for back sleepers.
If you sleep on your back and don’t suffer from any sleep-related issues (such as sleep apnea, or snoring), a whole range of pillow materials will suit you. The most important thing is to make sure your pillow is thick enough that your spine is aligned, but not so thick that your head is forced upwards. A material that keeps its shape throughout the night is another essential, as this’ll prevent the sinking feeling which, although seems comfy, isn’t very good for you long term!
If you suffer with sleep apnea, indigestion or even sciatica, a wedge pillow could be your knight in shining armour! These allow you to prop your torso up while keeping your spine straight, which can help ease symptoms of a whole range of sleep-related issues including snoring – something I’m sure any bed sharers will be happy to hear!
Sorry stomach sleepers, but your choice of position is widely reputed to be one of the most damaging positions if you have the wrong pillow. Something too thick will cause your neck to jut back at an awkward angle, which will almost always result in neck and back pain.
Thick pillows with a high loft are an absolute no-no if you are a regular stomach sleeper. Instead, go for something thin. 3-5 inches is a good range to go for and there’s plenty of these on the market. While they may take a little while to get used to, especially if you’re used to something thick and lofty, the decreased pressure on your neck, spine and shoulders make the switch more than worth it. Give it a few days and you’ll wonder how you ever used anything else!
If you find yourself switching positions throughout the night, you’re a combination sleeper. Unfortunately, combination sleepers will have the toughest job of finding the right pillow, as when it comes to sleep positions, anything goes!
Combination sleepers should go for something specifically designed for a variety of sleep positions, although you may need to shop around for the one that suits you best. Good options are pillows with both a soft and a firm section, or perhaps one which is lower in the centre and higher at the sides. While specially-made pillows can be more expensive than the average, the effects on your body, posture and quality to sleep are second to none.