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Expert tips for selecting the right pillow to sleep peacefully

It is important to choose the correct pillow for a good night's sleep. Here are some tips from our expert, Dr Vikas Agarwal on how to choose your perfect pillow.

Sleeping with a snorer can be a nightmare. Your partner's snoring can be caused by a variety of factors, one of which could be using a wrong pillow. Sleeping on a wrong pillow can also cause neck pain. There different pillows for different people. But how will you choose the correct pillow for you? What should you look for while buying a pillow? Well, here are all your queries on using a pillow answered by our expert Dr Vikas Agrawal, ENT surgeon and sleep apnea specialist, Speciality ENT Hospital Mumbai.

Why is it important to choose the correct pillow?

The neck is stretched while sleeping, causing a proper flow of air through the airway and hence, helps in breathing properly as you sleep. However, if you choose a wrong pillow, which fails to support the neck, the airway is collapsed leading to sleep apnea or snoring. Hence, it is important to choose the correct pillow for sleeping. Moreover, the pillow should not be too soft, too hard and nor too thick or thin but of the perfect size, thickness and firmness. If you are suffering from conditions like sleep apnea or snoring, then you can opt for anti-snoring pillows which are available in the market to get some relief. Also, find out whether infants need a pillow.

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How to choose the correct pillow?

Here are some tips from Dr Agarwal everyone should keep in the mind when choosing a pillow.

The width of the shoulder: Yes, the wider your shoulder is, the bigger the pillow should be. And as men have a bigger shoulder width as compared to females, they need a bigger pillow. This will help in filling the gap between the shoulder and head along with helping in postural alignment, i.e.; maintaining the spine and upper thoracic (region below the neck) alignment.

The firmness of the pillow: Always ensure that the pillow is not too soft or too hard, but of medium firmness. A too soft pillow can lead to compression at the head, leading to misalignment in the neck and head region. This could be the reason why you end up waking with a neck pain or stiff neck in the morning. Also, use of a hard pillow exerts too much of pressure on the head, affecting the neck. Hence, it is important to invest in a pillow which is of medium firmness. Here are healthy sleeping positions to avoid backache and heartburn.

The fabric of the pillow: Although cotton pillows are a preferred choice than those made with synthetic or nylon as cotton pillows breathable and exert a cooling effect. However, there have been cases of allergy reported due to the use of cotton pillows, says Dr Agarwal. The presence of fine cotton granules in cotton pillows are known to trigger an allergic response leading to allergic rhinitis. If this is the case, then it is advised to replace cotton pillows with a fibre one. Here are 6 reasons you need to change your pillows every six months.

The thickness of the pillow: If the pillow is too thick, it might force your neck into forward flexion with the chin towards the chest. And too much of flexion not only causes chronic neck pain but might lead to sleep apnea and snoring. If the pillow is too thin, it might cause the airway to collapse, thereby increasing your risk of snoring and difficulty in sleeping.

Sleeping on the back or on the side which is better?

According to Dr Agarwal, sleeping on either sides is healthier than sleeping on your back. If you sleep on a side, the neck is straight, which elongates the neck, opening the airways which means better oxygen flow. However, if you sleep on the back, it increases the chances of your tongue falling back, thereby hindering with your sleep and leading to snoring and sleep apnea. Also, sleeping on a side lowers the chances of acid reflux, thereby preventing indigestion and other stomach woes. Read more on how healthy is your sleeping position?

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