What a Pain in the Neck! The New Adventures of Goldilocks

Is Your Pillow a Pain in the Neck? The solution to a good night’s sleep can be using the right pillow. Recently, I’ve been waking up with a pain in my neck. I calculated how long I’ve had my pillow – way too long – and decided the solution was to get a new pillow. I spent a while this Sunday sifting through the options at my local bedding store. There were several options – some had “too much” of one aspect, others “too little,” I finally found one that was “just right.” The following is my personal version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

First, the basic science: while sleeping, it’s best to keep your head and neck in as neutral a position as possible, because pain is caused by keeping your neck extended in one direction for too long. Having a pillow that offers adequate support is the best way to achieve a neutral, or non-tilted position. When sleeping on your back, your pillow needs to be firm enough so your head will not tilt too far back; you do not want the head tilted too far back. The same goes for sleeping on your side: you don’t want your neck to be tilted sideways in the extreme. Too little!

Also, the pillow should not be too large. so your head is not pushed too far forward for back-sleepers, or too far in the other direction for side-sleepers. Too much! Your neck needs to retain its naturally slight curve, so that the spine is kept in proper alignment. Just right! Since I am a side-sleeper, I narrowed my choices to pillows with a curved design. One of the brands I narrowed my choices to was a Tempur-pedic, which used memory foam. The cost for one pillow, however, was $99. Too much! (for my pocketbook).

I selected another brand, Carpenter Co.’s Memory Foam contour pillow, which cost $29. Just right!

I woke up yesterday and today with a much-improved neck. This bedtime story has a fairy tale ending!

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