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Pillow Talk: How to Pick the Right Pillow for the Best Nights Sleep

Feb 15, 2022
sleeping in bed

I have been asked so many times in the last week about pillows, not least by my daughter who is now in a big girls bed! Several of you have been away and on return have lamented about the state of the pillows you have experienced in the “spare room”, B&B, hotel or camper van.

Did you know we spend, on average, a third of every day and a third of our life in bed / sleeping.

However, we generally spend WAY less time and money choosing the right pillow for us to nestle into than we would spend on a swanky pair of shoes for a wedding or function that will only be worn once or twice. Something is off with this scenario surely?

Given the big time commitment and the wondrous benefits of bed and sleep, we should all be crying “we LOVE bed”! However, sadly this isn’t the case for many of us. Especially those who are a bit sore for one reason or another.

So this week lets have some pillow talk and give you our “How to” guide on choosing the right pillow for you.

Things to remember when choosing a pillow:

  • Your body is unique and what pillow is right for you may not be right for your partner, daughter, son, neighbour, Prince Charming or Cinderella.
  • Different sleep positions require different supportive needs from your pillow.
  • If you can’t sleep or are waking lots because of pain you need to see your GP or Physio to get checked out first before experimenting with your pillow. Something else could be going on with your body.
  • Your pillow needs to support the position of your head relative to your trunk when lying in any position, as if you were in an upright position.

The sleeping positions we will cover in this article are

  • Back sleepers
  • Tummy sleepers
  • Side sleepers
  • Wriggly sleepers! These sleepers move between lots of different positions….you know who you are!

Back Sleepers

Look at the position of your head relative to your trunk from the side. This will dictate how deep your pillow needs to be.

If your head is more forward as in posture B, you will need a deeper pillow than posture A. Having a very flat pillow with posture B. will cause your chin to lift more to the ceiling and extend your neck which is not optimal. Likewise a deep pillow for posture A will cause your head to nod forward.

Like Goldilocks says it needs to be “just right” to support your normal upright position.

Tummy Sleepers

Considering the postures above, posture A is likely to need no or a very thin pillow. Your head will be rotated to the side to allow you to breath (we are all in favour of this!).

Neck rotation can be restricted especially in posture B type. This may make this position more uncomfortable and therefore less common. However, sometimes people is find hugging a pillow under your chest (the side your head is rotated to) and sleeping slightly tilted to that side, a more supportive position placing less loading through your neck.

Side Sleepers

“Fill the gap” is my best advice.  You want to fill the gap between the tip of the shoulder the ear so that neck stays in an optimal alignment as in fig.1. A too deep pillow will cause you to bend your neck to the side (fig.2) and too thin will cause the same but in the opposite direction (fig.3).

Wriggly Sleepers

It’s a bit more tricky as all of the positions above apply. You are likely to need a combination of pillows and therefore a bit more space! An important question to consider if you wriggle around lots is…Are you in pain? Are you moving around lots because you are sore and can’t get comfy or wake lots because you are getting symptoms? If this is the case please speak to a Physio so you can be assessed and get advice that is specific to you.

So, your “ONE Thing” this week is to have a look at your pillows and sleep position. Getting a great nights sleep and loving bed that bit more might be a pillow away!

 Disclaimer: This may not sort the snoring but it is worth a shot and there are always ear plugs!

Here is a useful link to a recent article on good pillows available in the shops right now.


With love,

If you'd like to find out more on what you can do to get rid of your neck pain, download this FREE report and get all our top tips.

If you have been suffering for years from aches and pains, or have had an injury that's preventing you from doing the activities you love, call us on 01548 853 355 or contact [email protected] to talk to one of our team about what you can do to get back to living and moving pain free.

Want to read more about the causes of neck pain and how to get rid of it? Head over to all of our blogs on neck pain, by going to our Neck Pain Collection




Originally written 13th April 2017

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