Pillow Talk

November 16, 2015

Finding the right pillow is a bit like finding the right doctor. You want a good fit and hope you'll never need a replacement. When it comes to pillows it can tricky because you have different requirements when you move from your back to your side.

When you lie on your side you usually need more under your head than when you're on your back. If you only lie on your side then it's less of a problem but if you're like me and like to switch from your side to your back several times a night it's more challenging. Some people solve this problem by putting one arm under their pillow to provide the extra height needed when on their side. Other people like to have support under their neck so a moulded pillow is the answer. My solution is to have a very thin pillow that is soft enough to bunch up. That way when I'm on my back I don't have so much under my head and when I roll to the side I can bunch it up so that it lifts my head a little higher.

Everyone is different so the best thing to do is to experiment. Don't wait until bedtime to try to figure it out, take some time in the middle of the day when you have your wits about you to try different combinations of supports under your head.

This is what happened when my husband, Lawrence, and I did the experiment.

First we checked to see how forward our heads were in standing to find out how posture in standing would affect the amount needed under the head lying on the back.

Notice how many pieces of foam I have behind my head when standing compared to Lawrence.

See how this translates into the amount that's comfortable under the head when on the back.

Translating that into sleeping requirements it's obvious who needs the larger pillow.


But what about lying on the side? 
Even here Lawrence requires more under his head than I do.

Lying on the side, people usually like to have more under the head so the head stays in alignment with the spine. With both of us an arm under the pillow gives the added height necessary. Notice too how I've bunched up my pillow for a little added height. People with shoulder problems may not be able to put their arm under their head for support. In that case, a thicker pillow may be required.

Sweet dreams!

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Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner and Functional Movement Specialist will help you to boost your capacity to move effortlessly. With a background in special education, yoga, functional movement, and music, Sandra integrates this knowledge with the latest brain research to help you find solutions to your personal needs that are effective and long lasting. If you are interested in more information or would like to make an appointment, call Sandra today at 250 862 8489.

The Feldenkrais Method® created by physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, PhD., combines precisely structured movement sequences with the latest advances in brain research; it will help you recover from specific areas of injury such as the neck and shoulders or to improve fluidity and ease in sports, recreational activities or life. Join the ranks of such notables as actress Whoopi Goldberg, cellist YoYo Ma and the members of the Canadian Men’s Alpine Ski Team in experiencing the benefits of this method.

Tags: feldenkrais, sleep, good sleep, pillow comfort, awareness, sleep habits, comfort and support, relaxation


Hi Sandra,\r\n\r\nSo much enjoyed your pillow talk. I\'m still using my cherry pit pillow, for which I can change the shape of the \"pillow\" from when I am sleeping on my back to when I am sleeping on my side, works great for me.\r\n\r\nHowever, have learned something very intriguing about sleeping, and now finding that perhaps the pillow may not even be necessary always, as I have started sleeping on an inclined bed, 6 inches incline, you may find this interesting:\r\n\r\\r\n\r\nBlessings!\r\nSarah

- Sarah

Hi Sarah, thank you for your comment. The amount of support a person needs behind their head when lying down is dependent on how far forward they hold the head in an upright position (check out the first two photos in the article). As you can see in the photo of Lawrence his head is positioned quite far forward. For him to lie without support, his head would be tilted quite far back and if he was like that for an extended period of time (all night) he\'d probably end up with neck discomfort in the morning or worse. On the other hand as you can see from my upright picture I don\'t require as much under my head and in fact am quite comfortable lying down with no support. If you\'re lying on an incline you still have to take into consideration how far forward the head is held. In my case it would probably work quite well but Lawrence\'s would still have to have some support under his head. From what you\'re saying I suspect you\'re more like me and don\'t need a lot under your head and the incline may be enough. It will be interesting to see how your body reacts over time. Please keep me posted. :)\r\n-Sandra

- Sandra

Hi Sandra, Thanks for your well thought out comment, sounds reasonable to me, and yes, I will keep you posted as to how it goes with the inclined bed, already circulation is much better in my hands, which circulation was becoming noticably poor.

- Sarah

I agree completely. The right pillow is very important.

- Dylan Tyre

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