Solving sleep struggles – the APA’s top tips for choosing the right pillow

29 May 2015

Do you sometimes suffer headaches or wake up feeling fatigued? It could be that the very place you look forward to resting your head at night is causing the problem.

Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) National President Marcus Dripps says: “Selecting the right pillow will help ensure you sleep well, and wake up feeling rested, without pain or stiffness.

“Sleeping on a pillow that is the wrong shape, size or density can cause neck pain and headaches due to incorrect spinal posture, which is a major contributor to poor quality sleep.

“We know people spend approximately a third of their life asleep, which is essential for healing and rejuvenation. If people don’t choose the right pillow they could compromise their quality of sleep and put themselves at risk of poor health outcomes,” he says.

Dripps also warns sleeping on a pillow that is worn or has lost its support can also cause pain, explaining: “It’s as important to keep track of how old your pillow is, as it is to buy a good quality pillow that will last. Pillows should be replaced every 18 months to make sure they are providing adequate neck and back support.”

While there is no simple option for choosing a pillow, and what is right for someone else may not necessarily work for you, the APA is encouraging all Australians to follow these basic principles to help select the right pillow:


1. Seek advice from your physiotherapist

The ideal pillow for you will depend on many factors, particularly preferred sleeping position. If you have a neck or shoulder condition, you may need to discuss pillow options with your physiotherapist.


2. Consider your sleeping habits

If you sleep on your back, you may benefit from something that “fills the curve” in the back of your neck: a flatter pillow with a small contour, for example.

If you sleep on your side, your shoulders are wider than your neck and head, so you may need something higher.


3. Try before you buy

If your need for a different pillow relates to a temporary issue, try putting a small rolled towel inside your pillowcase as a trial.

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 17,000 members who conduct more than 21 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au/


For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact
:

Ruth Heenan, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0813, 0416 565 332 E Ruth.Heenan@physiotherapy.asn.au
Pammy Kokoras, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1317 or 0421 105 710 E Pammy@undertowmedia.com
Rachael Horan, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1318 or 0426 631 316 E rachael@undertowmedia.com