Different Types of Pillow for Good Spine Health

“Your first partner at sleep is obviously your pillow on the bed!” Most of us make use of a pillow while sleeping or resting comfortably. However, it is always essential to know that the pillow we are using for better support and comfort is actually good for our spine health and not getting any negative impact on the body or the spine. In this current article we will talk about the different types of pillow for good spine health; which is one of the most essential things to know for a comfortable and healthy sleep.

An Overview on “Ideal Pillow for Good Spine Health”:

When we talk about an ideal pillow for good spine health; we can list down some of the factors which count on while categorizing a pillow under the ideal pillow type.

Below we have listed some of the most crucial factors in any pillow that make them known as an ideal pillow for good spine health.

Ideal Pillow for Good Spine Health

  • The pillow must be appropriate enough for your preferred sleeping position.
  • For a good spine health, the pillow must support your head and neck properly
  • The pillow must be comfortable enough to lie upon.
  • The pillow must be suitable enough as per the size and shape of your neck, head and shoulder.
  • Your ideal pillow for spine must be absolutely durable for getting comfort for long.

Apart from all these above factors, there are some prime points to note on the best pillows for good spine health in men, women and the kids. Adult men’s ideal pillow for good spine health usually must be larger and firmer than the adult women’s pillow. Kids’ pillow which is thinner and softer than any other pillow usually makes the ideal one for good spine health in the little ones.

Different Types of Pillow Matching your Sleeping Position for Spine Health:

Different people have different sleeping positions which may include foetus, Log, Yearner, Solider, Free-faller, Starfish sleeping position etc. All these sleeping positions can be categorized in to primarily three positions namely the Side-sleeping positions, the Back sleeping positions and the Stomach sleeping positions. It is known that about 70% of the people are side sleepers, 20% are the back sleepers and the rest 10% the stomach sleepers.

It must be remembered that with each sleeping position, the placement and the type of the pillow you use should differ so as to fit your position and provide better support and comfort in your position of sleeping. In this current section we will know about the different types of pillows and their appropriate placement while sleeping in accordance to your sleeping positions.

Different Types of Pillows for Good Spine Health of the Side Sleepers:

Now; we know that most people are habituated to this sleeping position. In fact, this is the best sleeping position for your spine. So, let us at first talk about the different pillow types and their placement for good spine health in the side sleeping positions.

Pillows for Good Spine Health of the Side Sleepers

  1. Placing a firm pillow between your knees so as to alleviate pressure off of your lower back and your hips will be of great benefit to the spine if you are side sleeper.
  2. Placing a pillow under your neck so as to support your neck and the head in a straight line with the rest of your body, will be helpful for the side sleepers. Keep in mind that softer pillows or more than one pillow under the neck while sleeping during the night may tilt your head and stress the neck muscles leading to conditions like stiff necksheadaches and also torticollis once you wake up from the bed in the morning.
  3. A body pillow might help you have proper assistance and support at the legs and the shoulders in case you are sleeping alone in the night.

Different Types of Pillow for Good Spine Health of the Back Sleepers:

If you are kid who prefers to sleep on your back, then here below are your perfect types of pillows for good spine health.

Pillow for Good Spine Health of the Back Sleepers

  1. You will be fairly benefited from placing a firm pillow under your knees if you prefer sleeping on your back. This will actually take away the pressure off of your lower back and thus allow your spine to assume its natural curve of the neck
  2. You must keep a medium firm pillow under your head or the back neck for best spinal support in your sleeping position. Older people may use two pillows under their neck or head as their upper back has more of its C-curve, thus leading the head to sit in further forward; which gets the appropriate support with two pillows under the head during back sleeping position.

Different Types of Pillow for Good Spine Health of the Stomach Sleepers:

Though sleeping on the stomach side is usually not very common, however at times people usually fall in to stomach sleeping position during their sleep.

Different Types of Pillow for Good Spine Health of the Stomach Sleepers

Below we will look at the different types of pillows for people sleeping on stomach:

  1. Placing a firm pillow under your stomach or hips can help you reduce the stress on your neck and lower back if you are a stomach sleeper.
  2. Use a firm pillow under your head at a downward angle if you require while at stomach sleeping position. However, stomach sleepers having the firm pillow under the stomach or hips usually do not require a head or neck pillow.
  3. If you are in a stomach sleeping position you can optionally use a pillow under your ankles for supporting your spine in a better manner.

It must be noted that this type of sleeping position (sleeping on stomach) is not recommended as they can lead to more of neck, shoulder and back pain.

Different Types of Pillow Based on Their Placement for Good Spine Health:

Pillows which we use for better comfort and support while sleeping or resting can be categorized under different types based on where we place them for the support; like the neck pillows, the knee pillows, lower back support pillows, Travel pillows/U-shaped pillows, Donut pillows, the body pillows etc.

The neck pillows are placed under our neck and help in supporting your weight of the head and the neck and thus help you in getting a comfortable sleep in your sleeping position.

Similarly the knee pillows are placed under the two knees. When the knee pillows are placed in between the two knees or below the knees, they get more support and prevent back pain as they keep the spine in the neutral position. Usually firmer knee pillows work better that the softer pillows under the knee.

The body pillows are usually of greater length and provide enough support to the people who especially lie on their sides. Body pillows are best for use in pregnant women which provides more comfort to the abdominal area while sleeping or resting.

There are the U-shaped pillows known as the Travel pillows which are used in the cars or airplane for assisting in better comfort and support to the cervical spine during the long travelling hours. These U-shaped pillows are curved enough to fit around the neck snugly and provide fine support to the cervical spine while one is in a seated position for longer period of the day in travelling. Such types of pillow actually protect the cervical spine from bending too far to one side or the other.

There are also the lower back support pillows which help in providing support for the inward curve in the lumbar spine. There can be more of muscle tension and muscle pain in the lumbar spinal area and the legs while sitting in a place for an extended period of time; maybe during work or travelling or while surfing the internet for long. A lower back support pillow can help great in preventing the muscle tension and pain of the lumbar spine and the legs. These types of pillows actually fill the gap created between the lower spine and the chair in a seated position.

The Donut pillows are the types of pillows which are usually placed on the seat portion of a chair and are of donut-shape. One can sit in a much better way by putting lesser pressure on the tailbone region of the lumbar spine on such a pillow, as there is a depression or a hole in the center of the pillow.

The Role of “Memory Foam Technology” in the Pillows for Good Spine Health:

Usually you must keep in mind that the pillows you use while sleeping should conform to your different sleeping positions and support your neck and head weight. To successfully address this issue, a new technology known as the “Memory foam technology” is used in the pillows which adjust to the unique shape and curves and various sleeping positions of the user. This new technology in the sleeping pillows helps in alleviating any pressure points of a user and thus helps in reducing the chances of any spinal issues. Thus, it can be said that Memory foam technology in the pillows are better comfort giving and support providing for good spine health.

A Final Note on Different Types of Pillow for Spine Health: It is all About Comfort and Support!

“Proper sleep and rest are important for body to heal itself naturally from the postural, physical and mental stress of the entire day.” So, it is highly essential that your sleeping or resting hours are actually getting you the best of your comfort for maintaining a good spine health. Here plays a crucial role, an ideal pillow which can actually help in improving the quality of your body’s rest and repair and prepare you for a better day when you wake up from your sleep. However, it is also important to note that not all the pillows work perfect for everyone. So, one must go for a short trial of at least a week and then decide if the pillow must be used or not.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 24, 2019

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