One of the most common questions that I am asked is what type of pillow i should use? This depends on which position that you sleep at night,.. back, side or on your belly (which is not recommended). I also find a very regular complaint is when i woke up this morning, I had a pinch/catch in my neck or I woke up with a bad headache. I do feel that this could be caused from a improper pillow, poor sleeping habits and high use of technology (computer and texting). While there are hundreds of pillows on the market the specific features should be comfortable, durable (keep its shape) and supportive at the same time.
The neck region has a natural C- curve or Lordosis and ranges between 20 to 40 degrees which optimizes the head position in a neutral alignment on the shoulders without increasing stress on the nerves, causing muscle spasms/stiffness and long term wear/arthritis on the spinal joints over time.
If you are a back sleeper, the part closer to your shoulders should be thicker and the center should be thinner as if to cradle and support the neck curve. The hole in the center design keeps you in the center without repositioning/changing thru the night allowing for more restful and sound sleep. The GOAL of the pillow should be to keep the head in a neutral alignment which means that your head is not too far back or too far forward, resting squarely on the shoulders. This types of pillow requires a break in period just like a new pair of shoe Orthotics for arch support in your feet. You'll get used to them over time and will be better for you in the long run. I'd also recommend placing a medium size pillow under your knees to allow for proper alignment of the low back and pelvis.
Side sleeping requires a firm pillow that supports your head in a straight line with your spine. While many people purchase memory foam pillows these days, I'm not a fan of these as they give the neck no support whatsoever because it just molds to whatever shape your neck curve is either bad or good. A pillow that is either too small or too large can strain, stretch or pinch the cervical nerves. A lot of the pillow size depends on the distance between you head and shoulder so choose your pillow size based on the broad distance between the shoulders. Put a pillow between your knees while on your side to keep the low back from twisting and rotating as this will help with many back complaints.
For you stomach sleepers, I would try to change this habit as this will always give you some type of neck or low back issues because of the compromised stress this puts on the neck and back vertebra. Remember, you have to turn your head to the left or right to breathe and the back is in extension (leaning back) which tightens the muscles and stresses the back and neck joints in a 6 plus hour sleeping night.
So as i woke up this morning and saw little Daisy Doolittle sleeping so soundly with the wrong arm rest pillow. A proper pillow can insure spinal health, restfull sleep and alot less pain and stiffness thru your many Dreams.