How to sleep on a pillow?

How to sleep on a pillow

Sleep is one of the most important functions performed by the body. It is the body’s natural way of shutting down all external agencies and allowing the human anatomy to rest while the internal involuntary organs continue to function.

It plays a major role in our lives with regard to health and contributes to the well-being of an individual.

The body grows, develops, heals and repairs itself while sleeping. A sound and satisfying sleep reduce chances of the person experiencing a bad mood or a mood swing. Since sleep plays such an integral role in our lives it is important to make sure that we sleep the right number of hours, sleep in the correct position and use the correct pillow too.

Why do we use a pillow?

The body is in the upright position when the person is awake. Hence the head, neck and the spine are in alignment with each other. This alignment is maintained by the functioning of muscles and tendons in the body.

As opposed to this, when the person is asleep most of these muscles and tendons also relax because of this the head might fall forward or backward. This causes a breach in the pattern of alignment between the neck, head and spine.

It results in a strain on the neck, vertebrae, back muscles and causes pain and stiffness in the spine and back muscles. To avoid such a condition pillows are used to lift the head and neck to the level of the spine.

Pillows are also used to achieve a proper angle that makes it comfortable to sleep. Improved blood circulation and easy breathing are ensured by the alignment of the spin, head and neck.

Different types of materials used for pillows:

Wool or Cotton

Pillows filled with these materials are very firm. These materials are relatively unlikely to cause allergic reactions. They are easy to maintain as they have a resistance towards dust mites and molds.


If the foam used for the pillow is of a higher density there are lesser chances of the foam becoming soft and breaking. It will also provide more support if the foam is of a higher density.

Memory foam

These kinds of pillows are able to mold and adjust to the shape of the person’s body throughout the time that the person sleeps and changes as per the individual’s movements by reducing pressure points.


This material is the firmest of all the materials used in pillows. It is resistant towards molds and dust mites. They are often contoured in order to facilitate the alignment of the neck and the back.

Down or feather

The biggest advantage with this kind of material being used for a pillow is that the stuffing can be moved according to the preference of the person, depending on where the person requires support while sleeping.

Use of pillows as per sleeping positions

Sleeping on your back

People who sleep on their back are advised to use pillows that are thick at the last of the three layers in the pillow to provide support to the neck. Also, the pillow should be thin overall to prevent the head from being thrown too forward.

Sleeping on your side

For side sleepers there is a distance between the outer shoulder and the ear. In such cases the individuals are advised to use a firm pillow in order to fill in this gap and provide support and alignment.

Sleeping on your stomach

A very thin pillow can be used in case a person sleeps on his/her stomach. Although there is no real need for the person to use a pillow for the head at all, but it is advisable to use a pillow to be tucked under the stomach in order to avoid pain in the lower back.

Things to keep in mind

  • According to experts it is advisable to change one’s pillows every 12 – 18 months. The maximum use of pillow should not be more than 2 years.
  • It is not necessary that pillows that cost more are better. It is important to keep in mind the comfort and neck – head alignment factors.
  • It is important to check that the pillow allows the neck to be in line with the spine. The neck must not tilt forward or backward.
  • While shopping for pillows one must try out the pillows by resting their head against it, either by lying down or by standing against a wall, whichever is possible.

How to sleep on a pillow?

Sleeping on your back

Back sleepers must use a pillow that is comfortable enough and fills the gap between the neck and the bed to promote alignment of the neck, head and spine.

The pillow must neither be too thick, resulting in upward strain to the neck nor too thin resulting in the neck experiencing a strain because of it being tilted downward.

Firm and malleable pillows whose thickness can be adjusted to suit the individual’s body alignment must be used. The best option for back sleepers is the use of Buckwheat pillows. Pillows can also be placed under the knees; it flattens the lower back and relaxes it.

Sleeping on your side

Side sleepers have more space to be filled with their neck and the bed. This is done so that their neck is in alignment with their spine. They must use pillows that are neither too thick nor too thin to prevent the tilting of the neck either upward or downward.

They must use pillows with adequate loft and ones that are firm, so that they may not collapse under the weight of their head. To promote the alignment of the neck, head and spine, side sleepers must place pillows between their knees and arms to flatten and relax the spine.

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on the stomach can cause pressure on muscles and joints. The head is usually at an angle of 90 degree which causes a strain on the neck. People who sleep in this position must use a thin pillow for their head with less loft so that the neck is not tilted unnaturally.

Sleeping on the stomach causes lower back tension. Using a thin pillow under the hips to elevate the hips relaxes the spine and other muscles. A thin pillow tucked under the upper body and the neck also helps in maintaining alignment between the neck, head and spine.

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