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Six to eight hours of sleep typically help a person to wake up refreshed, depending on the individual’s physical needs. A good night’s rest goes a long way toward alleviating the negative effects of elevated stress levels, and when a person does not get enough, it causes the body to release cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety disrupt the circadian rhythms of the body, disturbing a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay there. Poor sleep quality can create many other health issues, as well, including headaches, heartburn and apnea. The right pillow enhances the posture by balancing the alignment of the spine and neck. This creates the environment necessary for relaxation, which allows the body to unwind and enter a state of deep slumber.
According to specialists, people choose their positions based on how well they can breathe. For example, when the airway in the throat becomes smaller at night, an individual is more likely to be a stomach sleeper. Sixty-three percent of people lie on their sides, 16 percent on their stomachs and only 14 percent on their backs. Attempting to force the body away from its naturally chosen position may cause a lower quality of rest.
Not only is lying on the right or left side the most common posture, it is also the best for breathing because it helps the airways to stay open. A side sleeper’s best pillow choice is firm and high to support the weight of the head without allowing the neck to tilt uncomfortably. The head typically accounts for one-eighth of a person’s body weight, and the heavier a person is, the more firm the pillow should be. Body and contouring pillows support the shoulders and legs with the benefit of being more likely to stay in place through the night. They also help to keep the body in the favored position without putting stress on the hips and lower back. Although some shifting is positive and helps with circulation, too much movement leads to disrupted rest, which leaves a person tired and tense the next day.
A thin pillow that keeps the head in a downward angle helps to keep the neck from turning to far in either direction. Firm pillows beneath the hips and ankles give better support to the spine and are more helpful for good rest.
With the proper support, back sleeping can be a comfortable position. A thin, moderately firm pillow with a curve on it keeps the head horizontal, which prevents flexion in the neck. Placing a second one under the knees takes pressure off the lower back and keeps the spine from being pulled from its natural curve. People who have snoring or apnea issues should avoid this position because the airways do not stay open as well. It is also not recommended for pregnant women due to the potential for added stress to the back and the heart.
The results of a good night’s slumber are usually immediately obvious. A person will notice higher energy levels and a better and more stable mood. While better rest may not completely eradicate situational stress, sleeping well provides more physical, mental, and emotional strength to deal with the issues that are causing it.