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What Is the Best Type of Pillow?

Updated July 19, 2017

The way you sleep determines the ideal pillow to reduce back and neck pain and help you sleep better. The best type of pillow for a back sleeper is not the same as a pillow ideal for a side sleeper. In some cases, choosing the wrong type of pillow can lead to difficulty breathing and a painful night's rest.

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Back Sleeper

If lying on your back is the only way to get a good night's rest, choose a firm or soft pillow with neck support. Extremely fluffy pillows, without neck support, cause the chin to move down toward the chest, restricting breathing at night. This position can cause back pain and upper neck pain.

Side Sleeper

Thick, fluffy pillows are best for side sleepers as they fill in the space between the neck and bed. When lying on your side, there is an open space between the head and shoulder. Fill this space in with a fluffy pillow to keep the spine straight during sleep. Flat pillows offer no neck support, leaving pressure on the neck during sleep, which may cause neck and shoulder pain.

Tummy Sleeper

Lying flat on your stomach may cause back pain as the spine is out of alignment in this position. In addition to thin, flat pillow under your head, employ a body pillow to prop up one side of the body, aligning the spine. Soft pillows work best as they conform to the head. Firm pillows can push the neck back, causing neck and back pain. To prevent neck and back pain, place a body pillow beside you in bed. Twist your body slightly toward the body pillow and lift your knee up to rest on the pillow. This moves the spine enough to straighten vertebrae and prevent pain, in most cases.

Speciality Pillows

Pillows with all-natural, allergen-free fibres are safe for people with bird or feather allergies. Synthetic pillow fibres are the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. Microfiber pillows treated with neem oil help fend off dust mites, another common allergen. Speciality pillows for sleepers who snore are made from firm material and have an indentation where the head can rest. A firm support at the base of the pillow supports the neck while the head falls gently back into the "scoop." Tilting the head slightly back increases airflow, reducing snoring.

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About the Author

Summer Banks is a medical assistant and senior health writer for several health-and-wellness websites. She learned about vitamins and supplements while working as a supervisor for a nutritional company. Banks has four years of nursing training from Shepherd University and Glenville State College. She started writing professionally in 2007.

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