Neck pain following an injury to the area usually just lasts for a few days or weeks depending on your situation, but some others suffer from constant discomfort or chronic issues. There could be a number of reasons why the pain persists but two important factors to look into are your sleeping position and the pillow you are using.
Experts highly recommend trying to sleep either on your back or on your side since stomach sleepers are more likely to experience neck pain more often due to their spine arching, their shoulders misaligning, and their necks turning sideways for most of the night. These two ideal positions paired with a pillow that helps support the neck, shoulder and your body’s natural curve to keep your position “neutral” should provide neck pain relief especially when practised regularly. So what kind of pillow should you be looking into?
What are cervical neck pillows?
The neck actually makes up a small section of our spinal column and this portion is coined the “cervical spine” by healthcare experts. The neck has the least protection compared to the rest of the spine, which makes it the most vulnerable area and most prone to injury or sprains.
This is where your pillow comes into play. It is not only to provide comfort but it is also essential to hold your neck and head at the right height and position to prevent straining yourself as you sleep. If you use a pillow that is either too high or too low, it cannot properly support your neck, which then causes pressure to build up as your neck naturally tries to compensate for the lack of support it is receiving.
More specifically, a cervical neck pillow is designed with these exact issues in mind. Unlike other pillows with generic shapes, the AlignNeck Pillow offers the following advantages:
A contoured, ergonomic design to fully support your neck
This pillow offers a 45-degree contour in the middle where your cervical spine can comfortably lie. This side is 10 centimetres in height and dips to 6 centimetres towards the back to allow your spine to follow its natural curve and thus helping you achieve a smoother, more natural breathing rhythm as you sleep.
If you prefer to sleep on the side, either end of the AlignNeck Pillow is specifically slightly raised for this purpose as this elevation helps keep the normal curve of the shoulder and neck.
A memory foam interior
Memory foam is a very popular material because of all the benefits it offers. This type of material holds the natural contour of one's head and neck, helping it distribute weight evenly across the surface area, relieve pressure, and eventually ease any neck or back pain you may be experiencing.
High-quality velvet material
Not only is the pillow itself soft and comfortable but it is also wrapped in breathable, absorbent, and durable velvet. This high-quality material does not irritate the skin and leaves you feeling light throughout the night. It is also removable if you wish to have it cleaned or replaced.
How to use a cervical neck pillow?
To maximize its benefits and get proper support for your neck, shoulders, and back as you sleep, you first have to look into the way you usually like to sleep. The sleeping position you are most comfortable with and are most inclined to staying in for the rest of the night will determine the proper way you can and should utilize the AlignNeck Pillow.
If you sleep on your back:
Not to play favourites but this is one of the best positions you can sleep in. Back sleepers will love the ergonomic design of this pillow since it provides optimal comfort and support for your neck while not having it propped up too high compared to the rest of your body.
The pillow slightly dips towards the back to clear your airway and affix your spine to its natural curve. This relieves any pressure from your neck and keeps you sleeping soundly throughout the night.
If you sleep on your side:
The second best position you can sleep in is on your side. Whether you opt to tilt left or right, either side of the pillow is slightly elevated and provides the same support on both ends. Laying your head on either area keeps your shoulder at the right height to naturally align with your neck, making sure it is not bent in such a way that can most likely cause a strain.
If you sleep on your stomach:
This is by far the most problematic position for the neck, shoulders, and back. Those that prefer to sleep on their stomachs reported experiencing pain and discomfort more often than those who sleep on their backs or sides. The reason for this is the misalignment of your shoulders and the way your neck arches sideways, holding this position for long causes pressure on your muscles and joints, which may eventually lead to strain or injury.
Why is it beneficial to get a good night’s sleep?
When we were younger, a lot of us hated nap time because that would mean fewer hours spent on activities and staying outside. Nowadays, a lot of us are quite the opposite. Juggling work, family, relationships, and personal lives have us running on a low battery. Our energy gets so depleted that we look forward to power naps and looking into how to go about it properly to maximize its “power”. To many, it is just a simple case of lacking sleep and the hope to catch up on it over the weekend. But the problem goes deeper than that, lacking sleep can actually lead to multiple health problems. So why is it important to get a good night’s sleep?
Better productivity and concentration
Sleep is linked to multiple brain functions including but not limited to concentrating on tasks, productivity, and cognition. The less rest you acquire, the less your brain can fully function, resulting in a lot of slow and sluggish days ahead.
Better calorie regulation
Getting enough rest has been linked to better calorie regulation as sleep patterns can affect the hormones that are responsible for appetite stimulation. By not getting adequate sleep, your body will not be able to regulate food intake properly.
Better healing capabilities
This factor is most especially important to athletes and those who lead active lifestyles. Rest is essential for the body to heal from strenuous activities as it gives the brain the chance to release hormones that encourage tissue growth and repair. Practising this can help heal wounds and restore sore, damaged muscles much faster.
In turn, you can experience improved performance intensity, feel more energized, have better coordination, acquire faster speed, and enjoy an overall stronger mental functioning.
Lowers your risk of heart disease
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States show that getting enough rest regularly allows your body to regulate its own blood pressure and keep it at a stable level. This helps reduce the chances of heart disease, sleep apnea, and other heart health conditions.
Builds a stronger immune system and lowers inflammation
As previously mentioned, a good amount of sleep can help the body repair, regenerate, and recover from the day’s activities. This is not limited to tissue and muscle repair alone, but to our immune system as well. Better quality sleep helps fight off infections and keeps our system formidable enough to continue doing its job.
Studies from the World Journal of Gastroenterology have also shown a link between inflammatory bowel diseases and not getting enough rest. This exhibits the contribution of sleep deprivation to these types of diseases.
Helps in preventing depression
Last but definitely not the least, sleep has mental and emotional benefits as well. Studies have shown a link between the lack of sleep and depression. JAMA Psychiatry concluded that the lack of sleep has contributed to many suicide cases. Another study by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry suggested that those suffering from sleep disorders are most likely to show signs of depression. Protect your mental health by getting at least 7-9 hours in every night.
Alternative products that can help relieve neck pain and discomfort:
The Alignhead Hammock is a cervical traction device that helps provide comfort and
relief by gently stretching the vertebrae around your neck. The process of stretching this area provides space to the spinal disc by elongating the spine and separating it from the vertebrae. The muscles around the neck will also be stretched out, which relieves pressure off the nerve roots and promotes complete cervical relaxation.
The AlignShoulder Brace helps provide stability and support for your shoulders. It is
most especially useful for athletes recovering from shoulder injuries or people that work desk jobs that require them to sit for most of the workday. The brace pulls the whole back area as you walk or sit, helping you maintain good posture no matter the activity. This helps reduce any inflammation by compressing the shoulder joint. It also helps improve the flow of blood to your shoulder region as it keeps this area elevated and neutral at all times.
For most, bad posture may seem like just a minuscule thing but it actually opens a world of health problems when not properly addressed. When the spine is hunched, it puts pressure on the joints. Regularly being in this position makes the muscles weak, out of shape, and imbalanced. When muscle mass is lost, that is when occurrences of strain and injuries heighten, or even worse, osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that happens when the flexible tissues surrounding the bones wears down, which usually targets the knees, lower back, neck, and hips.
The AlignMat Acupressure Mat combines the ancient Chinese medical system with India’s bed of nails, which requires one to lie down on thousands of pressure inducing points designed to release tension and alleviate pain.
A single mat contains over 5,000 pressure points. With this many in one surface area, multiple meridian points on your body can be simultaneously stimulated or activated, allowing the flow of good internal energy to travel through your body’s channels faster, and offer you relief at a much quicker pace.
It is recommended to take at least 10 minutes per day to lie on the AlignMat Acupressure Mat to experience the best results.
The AlignPillow would be the best alternative to the AlignNeck Pillow. This is an all-around pillow that is offered in three sizes namely small, big, and large. This pillow is very versatile and can work with all sleeping positions. It provides relief from neck and back pain by also keeping your cervical spine aligned when you lie on your side or lie in a supine position.
One of the many elements that take this pillow apart from the rest is its bamboo memory foam material. Bamboo fibres used in the memory foam are delicate, breathable, and extremely light. It is also a good absorbent to prevent your pillow from being damp, which supports its anti-fungi properties. Microbial infections can and often happen with pillows that retain moisture, resulting in rashes and disease. In addition to keeping you clean and rash-free, the natural bamboo fibres also offer cooling effects simply because they breathe easier than synthetic materials.