Orthopedic Pillow? Cervical Pillow? What are these things?
If you’re reading this page, you’ve probably got at least a vague idea of what an orthopedic pillow is. Also referred to as a cervical pillow, they’re “designed to correct body positioning in bed or while lying on any other surface.” -Wikipedia
They’re sometimes also referred to as therapeutic pillows based upon claims that they can relieve conditions such as neck pain, sleep apnea, or insomnia.
Orthopedic pillows come in many sizes and shapes and serve different purposes.
The most popular orthopedic pillows are rectangular (usually conforming to the standard pillow dimensions of 20×26″) and are intended to fill the space between your head and the mattress. Not all orthopedic pillows are intended to support your head and neck however. Some are designed for more unique circumstances, like elevating your legs or back. We’ll be looking specifically at orthopedic bed pillows intended to provide head and neck support…
If orthopedic pillows are intended to correct your body positioning, what’s “correct?”
It’s simple really: unnatural bends and twists in your neck and back can cause muscle strains and put pressure on nerves and discs. Your spine is best off when it’s straight. Keep your spine straight and you’ll potentially avoid agitation and sleep more soundly.
Your pillow’s job is to support your head and neck. It, ideally, keeps your body in what’s called a neutral sleeping position. A neutral sleeping position keeps all the bits and pieces in your back and neck in in their ideal positions. This helps to prevent unnecessary pressure on your discs, muscles and nerves. Keep your spine neutrally aligned and you’ll avoid discomfort (or worse).
“But I used to sleep so well,” you say… Sleeping twisted up like a pretzel on a futon filled with hay and beer cans may have worked when you were 20. Unfortunately, as we age, the padded discs between our vertebrae wear out and we become more sensitive to our sleeping conditions. Orthopedic pillows can make sleeping a little easier on our sad, worn-out bodies.
What’s incorrect about the way traditional bed pillows position your head and neck?
1. A pillow with incorrect loft (thickness) will position your head too high or low.
If your pillow is too thin, your neck may bend downward at an awkward angle. Conversely, if it’s too thick, your neck bends unnaturally upward. Both situations can cause pain.
2. A pillow that’s too soft will inconsistently support your head and neck.
Traditional soft bed pillows filled with down or polyester foam often collapse under pressure and can not support your head adequately throughout the entire night.
Additionally, a soft pillow won’t provide the best lateral support your head. A soft pillow filling will change shape under the weight of your head and won’t prevent your head from turning left or right, particularly if you’re a back sleeper. This will result in lateral twists that can cause pain.
To get better rest, consider an orthopedic pillow.
If your head is supported in a neutral position, the muscles in your neck and back will be able to to completely relax. Pressure on your discs and muscles will be diminished and, as a result, you’ll get better rest. Orthopedic pillows can offer superior support for your head and neck, allowing you to get the best rest possible.
The most effective orthopedic pillows are:
1. Contour pillows
Contour pillows (AKA cervical pillows) are most often made of polyether foam, latex or memory foam.
They can be more effective than traditional soft pillows because:
- their unique concave shape efficiently cradles your head and neck, helping to keep them positioned consistently all night long.
- their firm filling allows them to maintain the proper loft without flatting out under the weight of your head.
While contour pillows can keep your head and neck consistently positioned correctly, they do come with some disadvantages.
Most contour pillows are not adjustable.
One of the biggest problems with foam and memory foam pillows is that they come in a predefined geometric shape. They will collapse and conform to you head somewhat, but they cannot be squished shaped or molded to support a wide variety of sleeping positions. Many people change positions throughout the night. Unfortunately, a preformed foam pillow is not shaped optimally for many of these positions. You typically can not adjust the pillow thickness of a foam pillow. Depending on your body shape, the firmness of your mattress and your sleeping positions, a contour pillow may be too thick or thin for you.
Most contour pillows are not breathable.
They are typically made from non-breathable materials. The lack of air circulation causes uncomfortable heat build up. As a result, it will slowly absorb and retain your body heat. Given their unique shape, there’s no flipping to the cool side!
Consequently, manufacturers strive to improve breathability by perforating the pillow with a grid of holes. This can be effective, although they’re still inferior to most other pillow types at staying cool.
2. Buckwheat Pillows
We are huge fans of buckwheat pillows. The buckwheat hull filling makes them uniquely capable of proper head and neck support. The thousands of tiny hulls perfectly conform to the space between your head and the mattress, eliminating potentially pain-causing pressure points in your neck and back. Buckwheat pillows offer firm, consistent support that will keep your head and neck comfortably positioned all night long.
Buckwheat Pillows Are Adjustable.
High-quality buckwheat pillows always have a zipper. A zipper enables adjustment of the amount of filling in the pillow. As a result, you’re able to change the thickness of your pillow for maximum comfort by adding or removing buckwheat hulls.
Buckwheat Pillows Are Breathable.
The irregular and hollow shape of buckwheat hulls creates airspace within your pillow. Its breathable nature results in a cool, dry pillow, that gives you the “cool side of the pillow” effect all night long.
Buckwheat Pillows Are Made from Natural Renewable Materials.
Many popular pillow types contain polyurethane or polyester foam that can emit toxins and carcinogens that aren’t good for you or our environment. There’s no sense in risking your health or filling our landfills with potentially toxic waste!
Moreover, buckwheat crops benefit little from chemical fertilizers. It is free of many of the contaminants that are present in other crop types and is safe for your family and the environment. The hulls are compostable, which helps to reduce unnecessary waste in our landfills and keeps our soil healthy and nutrient rich for future generations. Additionally, buckwheat pillows contain no animal products for those interested in a vegan lifestyle.
My Recommendation: Try a Hullo Buckwheat Pillow for 60 Nights.
I’ve been sleeping on buckwheat pillows for years and haven’t experienced a single bout of sleep-related discomfort since. In fact, I like these unique pillows so much that I decided to manufacture and sell them.
Try a Hullo buckwheat pillow for 60 nights. If you don’t care for it, just ship it back to us and we’ll refund the purchase price. Don’t take my word for it, read the reviews our customers have posted.