Choosing the Perfect Pillow

We spend a third of our life sleeping (200,000 hours over our life), therefore it is critical that we make sure our sleep is of good quality as that is when the body gets given the best chance of healing.

When it comes to choosing a pillow there is no such thing as a universal fit.  Your sleeping position is one thing to consider. Are you a back sleeper, side sleeper or stomach sleeper? How broad are your shoulders and what is the condition of your neck?

Here are some tips to help you select the perfect pillow for you:

Pillows for Back Sleepers

This is the most common position when falling asleep and the best for the alignment of your spine. Unfortunately it is also the most common position for snoring which makes it less than ideal if your share your bed!

Back sleepers are best having a small pillow under their head which supports the natural curve of the neck without pushing it forward. You want your ear to be in line with your shoulder on a horizontal plane. If you are not sure if your head is propping up get a family member or friend to take a photo of you so you can determine whether your pillow is the right height for you.


Back sleepers also often benefit from having a  firm pillow under the knees. The pillow under the knees will take pressure off of your low back allowing your spine to assume its natural curves without stress.

Pillows for Side Sleepers

This is the most common sleeping position throughout the night, and it is still good for keeping your spine in alignment. If you snore on your back, shifting to your side generally quiets you down.

Side sleepers do best with a pillow that is the width of their shoulders, to keep your neck in a straight line with the rest of your body. (Again get a family member or friend to take a photo so you can assess this). Two pillows or a pillow that is too wide can tilt your head and lead to neck stiffness in the morning.

Side sleepers often also benefit from having a firm pillow between the knees to keep the hips and low back balanced.

Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

This is the least ideal sleeping position as your neck has to be turned to one side to allow you to breathe (and most people turn to the same side every night). The ideal is to transition to back or side sleeping over time.

If stomach sleeping is the only option for you, proper pillow placement can reduce your chances of waking up with back and neck pain. Most stomach sleepers do not need a head pillow at all, but if you still need one use it to support your head at a downward angle as opposed to totally turned to the right or left.

Also placing a firm pillow underneath your hips/stomach will reduce the stress on your low back and neck.

Additional tips

  • Consider a pillow that is hypo-allergenic – You can be surprised by how much can accumulate in your pillow over time. This includes, skin cells, dust mites, fungus and mould. Memory foam pillows are a great choice as they are hypoallergenic and usually recommended for sufferers of asthma and allergies.
  • Choose a pillow that is appropriate for your body size – if you are of a smaller frame you will not need as firm of a pillow compared to larger frames or people with broader shoulders.
  • Keep track of how old your pillow is. Pillows should be replaced every 2-3 years to make sure you are getting the proper neck support. The memory foam pillows often last longer than this.
  • Often people can not sleep on their side or back due to limited range of movement in their neck. Seeing a Chiropractor for an assessment can identify if this is an issue for you.

At Chiropractic Balance we offer the Complete Sleeperrr Memory Pillow at wholesale price of $85 (RRP is $125) to our practice members. This pillow suits around 90% of people as it is adjustable. To find out if is suitable for you, ask to borrow our trial pillow free of charge for a week.

Your pillow can have a major impact on your sleep so please take the time to make the best choice as sleep and spinal alignment are both so important to your overall health.