Can Neck Pillows Be Used In Bed?

In current society, researchers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and all kinds of people are always looking for ways to improve their health. Through time, society has learned there are countless ways to improve health. Even the smallest aspects of life can have an impact on everyday health. 

For example, eating the proper foods, getting enough exercise, taking care of personal hygiene, and even practicing meditation can all impact one’s immediate health.

Another vital part of one’s health is sleep. Getting the proper rest, not just the number of hours of sleep, but the quality of sleep, plays a key role in countless aspects of life. Sleep is necessary for immune health, mental cognition, work safety, and much more. What’s more, individuals who got less than the recommended seven hours of sleep were more likely to have one of ten chronic conditions.  Your sleep position can also have a significant impact on your quality of life, from chronic neck pain to lower back pain.

Other research has shown the relationship between sleep and pain. When someone suffers from chronic pain, it’s harder to fall asleep and get quality sleep. Simultaneously, when someone with chronic pain cannot get quality sleep, they cannot improve their pain relief.

For those who have consistent neck pain, unless they can improve their quality of sleep, they will be unable to improve their pain. Thus, many people have begun to look towards neck pillows to be used in bed.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common condition for people of all ages. While adults are more likely to suffer from neck pain, it can still affect teenagers and children. Neck pain can be the result of several factors. In adults, neck pain is frequently caused by working long hours at a desk where bad posture is often practiced.

However, the causes do not stop at one’s posture during the day. Neck pain can be caused by muscle strain, joint problems, nerve compression, injuries, and even disease. Another common cause of neck pain is one’s sleep posture. Shoulder pain is often impacted by this as well.

Although sleep posture plays a key role in neck pain, it is also one of the best ways to prevent neck pain. Unfortunately, getting your sleep posture and neck position figured out may be difficult, as the best position may differ from person to person.

The Importance Of Your Sleep Posture

As everyone knows, sleep is vital to one’s health. Without a good night of rest, you will likely have an unproductive day, and you may even wake up to back or neck pain. The reason for this poor sleep, and subsequently, the pain, comes down to your sleeping position.

The way that you sleep—if you're a back sleeper, a side sleeper, a stomach sleeper, or sleep with your hand underneath your head— is a key indicator of how well you sleep, even though it seems like personal preference. How well you sleep is then an indicator of the rest of your health. For example, several diseases are related to the quality of sleep you get. These include heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.  

Furthermore, sleep posture plays a crucial role in habitual neck pain, but also in fixing neck pain. While it may seem paradoxical, it’s actually intuitive. If you’ve been sleeping with poor posture, you’ll likely wake up with neck or back pain. On the other hand, if you fix your sleep posture, you can rid yourself of any pain.  

Thus, if you want to ensure you have a good, pain-free day and that you get quality sleep, you must make sure you’re practicing proper sleep posture. To do so, consider the following tips.

Keep your head and neck in line with each other. Do not let your head lean over your shoulder, so your neck is curved throughout the night. This is a sure way to wake up to pain in the morning, so a side sleeper pillow would be useful for someone that ends up in this position with a sore neck.

Don’t sleep on your stomach. Doing so forces your head to be facing one side, likely for hours at a time. This position can put too much stress on your spine, which would likely lead to poor sleep or pain.

Sleeping on your back or your side is the best option to keep your neck and head inline and to preserve your spinal alignment. However, you have to find the right pillow that keeps that alignment.

If you’re sleeping on your back, you can use a travel neck pillow or a basic thin pillow.  

If you’re sleeping on your side, you can find a neutral pillow or a specially made neck pillow that gives you neck support and head alignment.

Types Of Neck Pillows

There are several variations of pillows that can be classified as a neck pillow. For instance, pillows like the famous U-shaped travel pillows can be considered neck support pillows. There are also half-moon pillows and basic contour or wavy pillows. These extra firm pillows tend to provide more benefits for a good night's sleep than the standard down alternatives. While you can find several manufacturers and providers of these neck pillows, what’s the difference between them? Which is the best pillow for you?

U-Shaped Pillows

Otherwise called a horseshoe pillow, these are ubiquitous in the travel industry as they’re made with travelers in mind. Anybody who frequents airplanes or long train rides has likely used one of these. They help keep your neck in place as you attempt to sleep while sitting.

These pillows can also be used while sleeping in bed to help with your posture. Typically, they’re not too large, which means they can keep your neck and head aligned as you sleep. However, due to the ergonomic design, they’re best used when lying on your back, so if you’re a side sleeper, this might not be for you.  

Half-Moon Pillows

Half-moon pillows are standard neck pillows that have an immediately recognizable design. They are quite versatile and adjustable, as they’re designed to ease chronic pain in several regions. They can be used in bed behind your neck to protect your cervical spine, under your knees, between your legs, or even behind your back.

Half-moon memory foam pillows are multipurpose and designed specifically to improve sleep posture. When used correctly, these neck pillows allow your head to rest comfortably with your neck perfectly aligned.  

Standard Contour Pillows

Contour pillows are another special subset of a neck pillow. Although contour pillows can have many shapes and designs, they’re made to improve sleep posture and comfort. Most notably, contour pillows may be designed with a wave-like pattern, where there’s an indentation in the middle of the pillow. The top and bottom are then slightly raised.

These cervical support pillows are great options for anyone who needs a little extra support under their neck. Plus, they’re perfect for side-sleepers who need to keep their head aligned with their neck.

The Best Neck Pillow For Bed

Choosing the best neck pillow depends most on how you sleep. Before a pillow can help with any pain, you’ll have to make sure you’re practicing good sleep posture. That means either sleeping on your side or back.

Once you’ve figured out whether you’re primarily a back or a neck sleeper, choosing the best neck pillow becomes easier.

For those who are avid back sleepers, the best options are U-shaped pillows and half-moon pillows. On the other hand, side sleepers would benefit most from a contour pillow or a half-moon pillow, as long as it isn’t too high.

Choosing a neck pillow doesn’t stop at finding the right style—you have to pick a specific type of pillow out. You need to think about how much support you need, how soft you like your pillows, and what kind of material you like. For example, many people find memory foam booster pillows to be the perfect amount of support rather than flimsy feather pillows, and inflatable pillows are so fragile and prone to popping that they're barely worth considering.

Using A Neck Pillow

Now that you’ve picked out your pillow, you have to use it correctly. As people sleep in different positions, with different types of beds, everyone’s neck and head naturally lie at unique positions.

Thus, once you’ve received your neck pillow, you need to try out several positions to see how you can best keep your neck and head aligned. Back sleepers should place their neck pillow behind their head, and maybe neck, to support the head without lifting it or letting it tilt backward.

Side-sleepers should keep their nose aligned with the center of their body. You can’t allow your nose and head to fall far over your side. Keep your neck and head straight with your pillow supporting your head and neck.

The Bottom Line

Neck and back pain are common symptoms of poor sleep posture. To fix one’s sleep posture, you can follow several tips like sleeping on your side or back. The most important piece of the puzzle is sleeping with your head and neck aligned with each other. This reduces any strain on your neck muscles and spine.

To ensure you’re getting the best sleep quality, by practicing good sleep posture, you can use a neck pillow in bed. As several styles of neck pillows exist, choosing the right one for you depends on what kind of a sleeper you are—side sleeper or back sleeper.

Once you’ve chosen your style of neck pillow, you need to find a good pillow that offers the right support. Your head can’t be elevated too high, nor can it be leaning back too far. Neck pillows are the perfect option for anyone who wants to ensure they’re setting themselves up for a good night of rest!

Sources:

https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sleep-health

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046588/ 

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