Thanks to all those of you who took part in our poll about the best number of pillows. Just over 30% of you believe that two pillows are the answer, while 12.5% think it’s none at all. So just over half of you (56.8%) think a single pillow is best.

In fact, the correct number varies from person to person as it’s dependent on a number of factors. It’s all about maintaining the correct alignment of the head and neck and is dependent on body size and sleeping position. For example, a smaller person may only need a single pillow to keep their head and neck aligned while they sleep, where as a bigger person may need two.

There’s a sleepy theme to this newsletter, so read on for a guide to finding the perfect pillows and our tops tips for a good night’s sleep. We’re seeing lots of patients suffering from post viral headaches and neck pain at the moment. These can be very debilitating and may last for several months if left untreated so we’ve also included some exercises to help with neck posture. Plus of course there’s our brand new poll. It’s sports related this month so please do scroll down and cast your vote.

Alison and the Surrey Physiotherapy team

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With one of the biggest contributing factors to a bad night’s sleep being a bad pillow, it is important to take the time to ensure you get the right one for you – not just for a good night’s sleep, but also to maintain a healthy and pain free mind and body.

There is no single recommendation for pillows that suits everyone. It’s down to personal preference, your size, the firmness of the bed, whether you have a degree of spinal curvature, allergies and temperature control. And, it’s generally not recommended that you sleep without a pillow – so finding the right one is essential.

Starting your search:

Terms such as soft, medium and hard vary from brand to brand, so the only surefire way to know what suits you best is to try them out! Start by trying a selection of pillows lying in your dominant sleep position. Quick note – lying on your front, with your neck twisted to one side on a pillow is often a cause of neck pain and headaches! It’s also worth trying a selection of different materials. Here are some of the options available to you:

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A good pillow will:
  • Hold your head in correct alignment – that is in the same relation to your shoulders and spine as if you were standing upright with the correct posture;
  • Be tucked well into the neck and shoulder to support your head fully;
  • For those who sleep on their side, hold the neck so that it does not drop down through lack of support or get pushed in the other direction, because it is too bulky.

But even the best pillows will not last any longer than a couple of years, eventually becoming unsupportive and potentially unhygienic. So regular replacement is the key.

Signs that you need to go pillow shopping:
  • Pillows become discoloured;
  • You begin to wake regularly with head or neck ache, or a blocked nose.

And remember, perfect pillows are only part of maintaining a healthy body, mind and soul. If you find that, despite having the most blissful of boudoirs in which to rest your head, you still feel the odd twinge of pain in the head, neck or back then get in touch, and we can help you to get you back on track for a dreamy nights sleep.


The secret of a good night’s sleep – top tips for superior shuteye

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Good quality sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. And getting enough sleep, at the right times, can also help to protect your mental and physical health and quality of life.

Achieving a deep sleep will help trigger the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens, boosts muscle mass and and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.

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It’s well known that sleep can aid the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Whilst an ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity.

Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin – the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. So, those with sleep deficiency are at risk of a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase the risk for diabetes. It can also affect how the immune system works, making you prone to infections and affecting your recovery time.

In addition, sleep deficiency can affect certain areas of the brain making it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, control emotions and behaviour, as well as affecting the ability to cope with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.

MAINTAIN A HEALTHY MIND

In contrast, a good night’s sleep helps the brain to function properly. While you sleep, the brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. So getting the correct amount of sleep at the right time will aid concentration and learning, help with decision making, problem solving and creativity.

Good quality sleep is also particularly important for children and teenagers. Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others, experience difficulties with anger management, mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or have a lack of motivation. They may also have problems paying attention, may get lower grades than others and feel stressed.

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO I NEED?

The amount of sleep we need varies over a life time but a general rule is as follows:

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STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEIVING SUPERIOR SHUTEYE:
  • Develop a routine: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This is especially important for children. Have a set bedtime and routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment;
  • Maintain sleep times: Try to keep the same sleep times weeknights and weekends, and avoid lie-ins – these disrupt your body’s clock sleep-wake rhythm;
  • Introduce quiet time: The hour before bed should be a quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake. No screens, laptops or mobile phones once you are in bed;
  • Don’t go to bed on a full stomach: Ideally allow three hours between eating a large meal and bedtime (Having a light snack is okay.);
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed: Initially they may make you feel sleepy but you will wake after a couple of hours and find it difficult to return to sleep;
  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine: These are stimulants and can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard to fall asleep at night.
  • Stock up on Vitamin D: Natural sunlight is known to aid sleep, so spend time outside in the sunlight whenever possible.
  • Set the mood: Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark. Temperatures of 16-18 are ideal and over 24 are likely to make it difficult to sleep.
  • Learn to relax: Employing techniques to help you relax before bed will aid sleep. Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques approximately an hour before bed.