Are pillows harmful to your health?
Answer: It depends on their firmness and your sleeping position.
You probably know someone who won't leave home without a best pillow, claiming that a particular bag of fluff or feathers is the key to a good night's sleep. And that person may be on to something. "Anything that will make you more comfortable will improve the likelihood of getting a good night's sleep," says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, a sleep expert at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
But the benefits of pillows don't go much further than comfort and positioning. Sometimes pillows even hurt your health.
Pillows and pain
"If your neck is bent in any way for an extended period of time, you'll get uncomfortable," explains Matthew O'Rourke, a physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He says a pillow that's too soft or too firm often leads to neck pain.
For example, if you sleep on your side with a soft sleep pillow that doesn't provide enough support under your neck, your head has to extend sideways to meet the pillow. If you sleep on your stomach—a position that hyperextends the neck backward—then using a firm pillow pushes the head back even farther. If you're on your stomach with your head to the side, you're sleeping in a full rotation position, and that can become painful.
Likewise, sleeping on your back with too much firm support pushes the neck too far forward.
Losing sleep from being uncomfortable at night has consequences. Your body has less time for muscle growth, tissue repair, and other important functions that occur during sleep.
Sleep deprivation can affect mood, thinking skills, and appetite. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk for falls, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The above are the bad effects that unsuitable pillows may bring to people. But this question still needs to be treated dialectically, depending on whether you have chosen a suitable pillow!