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Why we need pillow for sleep

My daughter likes sleeping without pillow and when my mother tried to introduce the pillow she asked “Why we need pillow for sleep?” Looks stupid question but in reality this is very important question which needs proper clarifications.

Pediatricians recommend sleep without pillow for children before 2 years old. Why almost all adults sleep with pillow? Why pillow is considered as the important part of resting and sleeping? How come we need different types of pillow after 2?
Biological reason for using pillow for sleep is very clear – it is necessity to keep head, neck and spine in normal biological position during sleep. From anatomical point of view the relationship between body heads, necks and spines are pretty complicated. Usually healthy people don’t have any problems while sitting or standing because during day time our muscles are active (slightly tense) and it is helping to hold the head and neck in line. When we are relaxed and/or lying down, muscles are not tense and cannot keep head and neck in proper line with spine. Situation could be more complicated if we are sleeping (means absolutely relaxed) – this the time when we need pillows for supporting relaxed head and neck in the line with spine.

During sleep relaxed muscles could cause the head to fall backwards or forwards – this is the additional stress on the neck muscles and vertebrae, which in turn could trigger stiffness in the back muscles and spine. Pillow for sleep is usually designed for holding head in line and for eliminating potential stiffness, aches and pain in the morning.

Why we need pillow for sleep

The main function of pillow for sleep is to elevate the head and neck until they are back in alignment with the spine, regardless of sleep position. Only pillow for sleep can insure the proper angel between head, neck and line during relaxed sleep. When the head, neck and spine are back in alignment, a person should be able to breathe easier and have improved circulation.

Pillow for sleep was invented centuries ago and it was not commonly used in most societies. It is known that some civilizations “pillow for sleep” was carved from wood or soft stones. It was not very comfortable but supported head during sleep.

Later people start using soft pillows from soft cloth or selected feathers – at the beginning pillow for sleep was only for rich people. Wealthy royal families valued comfortable sleep and used several pillows. Poor people start making pillows from straw or any fabric remains. Many poor people simply had to support their head with an arm folded beneath them.

Archeological findings from ancient Egyptian tombs show that the Egyptians invented the pillow made of wood. The first softer pillow made of reeds, straw or feathered down, traces back to ancient Greece and Rome. Highly decorated pillows became prized commodities first in China and Persia and later in Medieval.

There are some historical facts proving that in ancient Middle Eastern countries and in some Pacific islands people preferred comfortable head supporting pillow for sleep. At the time pillows were staffed with cloth or leather pouches or grain or carved limbs of trees or bamboo or grass or some other materials. The main purpose for ancient pillow for sleep was comfort, support of head and neck during sleep.

Pillow for healthy sleep

Nowadays market is full of different types of pillows adapted to different health and body situations including anti-allergic pillows, neck and shoulder pillows, temperature adjusting pillows, water pillows, memory foam pillows, travel pillows, knee pillows, leg pillows, etc.


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