How Do You Know If Your Pillow Is Bad: 9 Signs Of A Bad Pillow
Your relationship with your pillow is more important than you might think.
Sleeping with a good pillow doesn’t just leave you with sweeter dreams. It also elevates comfort, improves spinal alignment, benefits your posture, and reduces frustrating back and neck pains.
But pillows aren’t designed to last forever. If you’re waking up feeling less than amazing, it might be time to break up with your old pillow and move to a more supportive model. Keep reading to find the top 9 bad pillow symptoms and why low-quality pillows cause neck pain.
What can a bad pillow cause?
Bad pillows cause various issues, including general pains, poor posture and spinal alignment, and even allergy issues. Low-quality pillows also lead to a decline in sleep quality, leaving you more irritable and unfocused.
However, you don’t have to settle for bad pillow symptoms. A supportive pillow can remedy these issues through a specialised design and modern materials. Memory foam pillows are particularly good alternatives, as these are focused on relieving issues caused by traditional pillows.
Goodbye, aches and pains. Hello, deep sleep.
Can the wrong pillow cause neck pain?
Alongside general discomfort, some pillows can cause heightened neck pain. This is due to a lack of support, causing extra muscle tension. Back pain is another common symptom for the same reasons.
Remember, you rest your neck and head on a pillow for hours every evening. If your pillow isn’t set up for success, you can accidentally add to your neck pain.
How a bad pillow can cause or worsen neck pain
Proper spinal alignment is needed for a healthy sleeping position and to protect the natural curve of your neck. However, most pillows aren’t designed with this support in mind.
Without specialised support, necks and backs are left unsupported, and pain and bad sleep quality are more likely to occur. This can also lead to stiffness, tension, headaches, and general discomfort in the mornings or while trying to sleep. Not ideal!
Achieving good spinal alignment is possible, thanks to memory foam pillow alternatives. These pillows feature an optimised shape and cervical lordosis support, which, when used consistently, are an effective treatment for neck pains (Persson L, Moritz U. 1998).
How often should you replace your pillow?
You should be changing your pillows every 1 to 2 years. This means you aren’t sleeping on a worn-out pillow, but it ensures you’re getting good use out of it, too. Changing your pillows within this period also guarantees you’re sleeping on hygienic and allergen-free pillows.
9 Common Bad Pillow Symptoms
Considering a pillow switch-up? Here are the definitive bad pillow signs that it’s time for a change.
1. Poor Sleep Quality
Tossing and turning through the night is one of the most frustrating feelings. If this is your usual bedtime routine, it might be a sign you need to update your pillow.
Supportive pillows improve sleep quality. So, being unable to sleep without hours of frustration is a sign that your pillow is past its sell-by date.
2. Stiff of Sore Neck
Mornings can be hectic, and waking up with a still or sore neck can worsen them. Unsupportive pillows don’t protect your neck muscles and spinal alignment, leading to chronic neck pain and spinal misalignment.
But don’t worry — specialised pillows can reduce low-level neck pain during sleep and the morning after use (Efanian, P., Tenzif, S. and Guerriero, R.C. 2004).
3. Persistent Discomfort & General Pain
If you’re waking up with extra aches and pains, this is a sure sign it’s time to make a change.
General aches and discomfort point towards a pillow that’s lost its support. This includes experiencing pain despite trying different sleeping positions. Sound familiar? It might be time to find the right pillow for neck pain.
4. Frequent Headaches
Persistent headaches and migraines upon waking are more sure signs your pillow isn’t doing its job. Put down the paracetamol and pick up a new pillow!
Did you know allergies or respiratory issues can be caused or heightened up old pillows? That’s right. Pillows pick up dust over time, and this build-up can’t always be washed out.
Pro Tip: If you suffer from allergies, you might want to replace your pillow more frequently than 1 to 2 years.
6. Flat or “Deflated” Pillow
Take a second and examine your pillow. Is it flatter than when you first bought it?
Pillows “deflate” after years of use, and this is an obvious sign it’s time for a change. A shopping trip is on the cards if your pillow is flat enough to fold and not bounce back.
7. Pillow Feels Too High
Flat pillows aren’t the only problem. You might need to modify your bed arrangement if your pillow elevates your neck too high.
Some pillows have too much height for a comfortable neck position, leaving the head and neck out of proper alignment. This inevitably leads to upper back pain because the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine points are not in arrangement.
8. It Feels Lumpy
Like Goldilocks, it’s essential to opt for a pillow that feels “just right.”
After extended periods of use, pillows start to feel lumpy, which is another key sign to throw them out. This occurs in both memory foam and traditional pillows, so don’t ignore any changes in texture!
9. You Can’t Get It Clean
Finally, if you’ve noticed your pillow is stained or smells slightly off, it’s another obvious sign you need to buy a replacement. The scent and stains usually come from body oils, skin, and hair.
It’s natural for pillows to become worn out. But don’t let a dirty pillow be your new normal!
Additional Strategies for Neck Pain Relief
Investing in a supportive memory foam pillow can help you reduce pain and prevent spinal misalignment (Ferchak, D. 2021). However, these other strategies are beneficial if you’re struggling with neck pain.
Home stretches and exercises
- Good sleep hygiene — Sleep problems can increase the risk of musculoskeletal pain (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019).
- Ensuring good posture throughout the day and night
- Working with a professional physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist
- Applying heat or ice packs as needed to alleviate aches and pains
Combining these strategies and a new memory foam pillow is essential for neck pain relief. However, always consult a medical opinion if your neck and back pain worsens.
When it comes to neck pain relief, binning a bad pillow and investing in a high-quality pillow can make a world of difference. Through support and correct spinal alignment, you’ll be feeling (and sleeping) better in no time. And your mornings? They’ll be pain-free. Result.
So, how's your current pillow? Is it ensuring aligned sleep? Or does it leave you feeling like you’re in a nightmare?
Switch to a healthy alternative today if you wake up in pain. The revolutionary Groove Pillow is designed to tackle all sleep woes. From effective neck pain relief to anti-headache properties, this pillow is created with your well-being in mind.
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- Erfanian, P., Tenzif, S. and Guerriero, R.C. (2004). Assessing effects of a semi-customized experimental cervical pillow on symptomatic adults with chronic neck pain with and without headache. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, [online] 48(1), pp.20–8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1840039/.
- Ferchak, D. (2021). Choosing the Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Back Pain. [online] Health Central. Available at: https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/back-pain/choosing-best-pillow-neck-pain-back-pain.
- Harvard Health Publishing (2019). 6 ways to ease neck pain - Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/6-ways-to-ease-neck-pain.
- Persson L, Moritz U. Neck support pillows: a comparative study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1998 May;21(4):237-240. PMID: 9608378. Contact Information: Liselott Persson, Lund University, email@example.com, +46462229555 Ulrich Moritz - Unable to locate