Can your Mattress and Pillow cause Neck Pain?

23 April 2019Chiropractic

Do you wake up feeling unrested with pain in your neck and upper back? The problem could be coming from using the wrong kind of mattress and pillows. Getting the proper support when you sleep can make a big difference in your cervical spine health, which will decrease that neck pain and lead to a more restful night’s sleep.

The first thing to consider when questioning if your mattress and pillows are causing your neck pain, is the position in which you sleep. The safest position to be in is either on your back or side. The neck should be supported, and the head in a neutral position in line with the rest of the body. Sleeping on your stomach is more likely to cause neck and back pain because the spine is arched and the head turned to the side. Lying on your back will offer the best position for your spine as long as the proper pillow and mattress are being used.


A good pillow will keep the head and neck level and in alignment with the rest of the spine. The purpose of a good pillow should be to keep your head from bending too far backwards or too far forwards. If you pillow is too big or firm it will raise your head out of alignment and if it is too soft it gives little support to the neck so it is important to find the right balance. The best types of pillows are made from either foam or polyfill. Feather pillows lose their shape and support after laying on them for a short period of time. Whatever the material of your pillow is, make sure to replace it every 2-3 years because it breaks down and fills with skin cells, mold, mildew, and dust mites. If you find your neck is still unsupported, you should try one of our McKenzie cervical rolls. These rolls are made to help support the natural curve of the cervical spine. All you need to do is place it inside your pillowcase under your neck.

A good mattress also needs to be the right balance between firm and soft. If it is too firm it may irritate the areas of the body that are in contact with the mattress. However, a mattress that is too soft allows your body to sink into bad posture while you sleep. The right mattress should keep your spine parallel, not sagging or bowing, and be supportive and comfortable according to your weight and build. Current studies show that a medium-firm mattress greatly improves the quality of sleep in people suffering from chronic low back pain, whereas extra firm mattresses, which used to be the recommendation, are actually responsible for worse sleep quality. Like a good pillow though, a mattress needs to be replaced periodically. If regularly flipped and rotated, a mattress should last about 8-10 years.

If you have chronic neck and back pain from sleeping come discuss it with one of the doctors at F.I.T. We can help you relieve that pain and find better posture and body support while you sleep. Your doctor may also give you some stretches to do before going to bed and exercises to do when you wake up to improve spine flexibility and overall support.

Mackenzie Cervical Roll

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