Trouble Sleeping? Neck Pain? Your Pillow May Be to Blame [2019]

If you wake up in the morning feeling foggy, exhausted and uncomfortable, you may think that you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. However, for most people, it isn’t necessarily the number of hours they are spending in bed, but the quality of sleep they are getting while they’re there.

Waking up feeling tired and sore is often a sign of low-grade exhaustion, and it impacts millions of people today. Disrupted sleep patterns are the most common cause of low-grade fatigue. While you may think that you are getting enough rest at night, you may be waking up and falling back asleep numerous times throughout the evening. This impacts your sleep cycles and can you from feeling rested and rejuvenated in the morning.

This type of sleep issue is known as Semisomnia, and experts believe it impacts nearly half of the world’s population. So, what causes Semisomina? Some factors ranging from issues with a routine to lighting can be at the root of this problem. However, one of the most prevalent issues may be one of the simplest to fix—your pillow.

Your Pillow and Your Sleep Patterns

According to Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service (SAAS), those with uncomfortable bedding can sleep an average of one hour less per night. Improper bedding can cause aches and pains and many times, these issues all start with the pillow.

A proper cervical pillow should give support to your neck and spine. Otherwise, your pillow may irritate and strain the muscles in the shoulders, neck, and back and impact everything from your posture to your ability to breathe. This is why people with Semisomnia often wake up with neck and back pain and achy muscles in their shoulders.

When your pillow isn’t positioned correctly under your head, it can cause you to tilt your neck forward, or backward and place extra stress on your spine. Most people will wake up to adjust their head when they are in this contorted position, then immediately fall back asleep. However, even that slight sleep disturbance can pull you out of your normal sleep cycle and prevent you from actually getting restorative rest.

A proper pillow, positioned under the head and neck can change that. The right pillow should be supportive, yet comfortable and allow your head and neck to lay in a natural position that alleviates extra spinal pressure.

neck pain cervical pillow

How to Test Your Pillow

If you are unsure about the quality of your pillow, there is a simple way to test the pillow you currently have and determine if it’s time for a new one.

Synthetic Pillows

If you have a synthetic-filled pillow, test it out by folding your pillow in half. Place a single shoe on top of your pillow. The pillow should bounce back and toss the shoe off. If it does, then your pillow is fine. If the shoe stays on the pillow, it is time for a new one.

Feather or Down Pillows

If you have a feather pillow, start by folding it in half, then fold it in half again. Push down on the pillow as hard as you can to compress it and remove all of the air. Once you have done this, let go. Your pillow should unfold back to its original shape. If it doesn’t, you need to invest in a new pillow.

Whether you are sleeping on a synthetic or feather pillow, you should always be sleeping with just one pillow, under your head and neck. You should never sleep or rest on multiple pillows at once in an attempt to get comfortable.

The Importance of Making Changes to Your Bedding

Changing up your pillow is a great place to start when you struggle to get restorative rest. However, in addition to swapping out your pillow, you can also make sure that you are investing in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress. The more comfortable of an environment you create for yourself, the less likely you are to experience sleep disturbances. This even includes your pajamas.

According to sleep experts, the right pajamas can also have an impact on your overall quality of sleep. Loose-fitting, high-neck garments that are made of breathable fabric are typically best. This is why cotton is an excellent option for pajamas.  When choosing pajamas, you should remember to keep your shoulders and neck warm, but still, be able to move freely.

Those who make positive changes to their sleep environment will likely start to see the effects right away. A lack of sleep can cause stress, anxiety and aches and pains. Those who are suffering from low-grade sleep deprivation are more susceptible to issues with anxiety and depression, they are less productive at work, and they are more likely to need to take sick time off.  People who aren’t getting enough sleep also tend to struggle with their weight, with their relationships and are at an increase of being involved in traffic accidents.

Better sleep can change all of this. Within a week of switching up your sleep environment and getting more quality night of rest, most people start to see a significant change in their mood and their overall quality of life.

Remember, just because you feel like you are getting enough sleep at night, it doesn’t mean you are getting the rest you need. Many people toss and turn and wake up and fall back asleep without even realizing it. These small sleep disturbances can take a toll on the quality of your rest. Start with an easy solution and swap out your pillow for one that supports your neck and spine—it may just be what you need to get the quality night of rest that you deserve.

If you continue to experience neck pain consult with your family physician to see if there may be other cause for the underlying neck pain and discomfort. If you don’t have a physician use your insurance company’s physician’s directory or online services like ZocDoc to find a doctor near you. If you have been injured in a work or a car accident and are suffering from a whiplash injury or neck pain, use online tools like InjuredCallToday to find a doctor near you.