Why sleeping with only one pillow is beneficial to your neck

One pillow.
One pillow.

When I get patients ask me “why do I get neck pain?”, it can sometimes be difficult to answer. Not because I don’t know how to ease neck pain, but I don’t know their personal circumstances.

What I can suggest, however, is that it is your night time routine that is causing you neck pain.

What many people don’t seem to know is that the head is designed to be in a position where your ears are vertically in line with your shoulders.

By having your head in line with your shoulders, it gives stronger support to your head from your neck.

If your head is tilted slightly, then the support won’t be as great and it will cause your neck to feel the pressure. This is something that many people do at night time and probably don’t really think of.

Sleeping with two pillows can cause havoc for your neck if they don’t support your head correctly. If you have two they can prop your head upwards, tilting it forward.

By doing this, your head is in an unusual position and will continue to be for roughly eight hours.

Not only this but your neck will also feel the pressure. Because your head isn’t supported correctly, your neck takes the role of support whilst you sleep.

A general rule I have is to sleep with one pillow. It may feel a little weird at first (and by weird I mean flat), but once you get used to it, it will make a great difference.

If you only have one pillow, it will support your head whilst allowing it to stay in line with the body, giving your neck a well deserved rest!

Another thing you are probably doing that’s not helping your neck is reading, checking emails or playing on your phone before bed. Whichever it is, the same action is applied to all of them. As you unwind in bed doing any of the above, your head is tilted.

Because your head is tilted, the support isn’t coming from your shoulders anymore, but from your neck.

Whilst your head is tilted and is not supported by your shoulders, your neck compensates for them. To do this, your neck tenses its muscles to keep your head where it is.

If you think about it, if your neck didn’t tense those muscles, your head would just fall forward!

So because your muscles are tensed, your body is in an unusual position.

If you read, check emails or play on your phone for say about one hour each night, then is it any wonder that your neck is hurting?

But the pain doesn’t stop there. Now imagine going to sleep on two pillows, as well as reading for about an hour or so.

By doing this, you can see that you may be causing your neck to already be in pain before your head hits the pillow!

Yet to think it’s been in an unusual position since reading, now you’re going to put it into another unusual position by going to sleep for eight hours on two pillows?

So now you know this, can you think of any ways you can switch up your night time routine to help your neck out?

Even if this means less reading time before bed and getting one supportive pillow for your head, you will be making a difference and will be easing any neck pain that may be caused at night.

If you’d like more tips like this, go to www.paulgoughphysio.com/neck-shoulder-pain