Improving the quality of sleep with an optimal pillow: a randomized, comparative study

Tohoku J Exp Med. 2014 Jul;233(3):183-8. doi: 10.1620/tjem.233.183.


Because sleep comprises one-third of a person's life, using an optimal pillow for appropriate neck support to maintain cervical curve may contribute to improve quality of sleep. Design of orthopedic pillow conforms to orthopedic guidelines to ensure the right support of the cervical curve. The aim of this study was to investigate effect of different pillow shape and content on cervical curve, pillow temperature, and pillow comfort. A feather pillow is regarded as a standard pillow, and a memory foam pillow is one of the most popular pillows among pillow users. We, therefore, compared these two pillows with an orthopedic pillow. Twenty healthy subjects (10 men and 10 women; age range, 21-30 years) participated in the study. Each subject was asked to assume the supine position with 3 different pillows for 30 minute in each trial and then cervical curve, pillow temperature, and pillow comfort were measured. When comparing the cervical curve of the 3 different pillows, that of the orthopedic pillow was significantly higher than that of the other 2 pillows (p < 0.001). The degree of temperature increase was significantly lower for the orthopedic pillow than for the memory foam and feather pillows (p < 0.001). The visual analog scale (VAS) score of pillow comfort was significantly higher in orthopedic pillow than the other 2 pillows. This study shows that pillow shape and content plays a crucial role in cervical curve, pillow temperature, and pillow comfort and orthopedic pillow may be an optimal pillow for sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedding and Linens / standards*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Feathers
  • Female
  • Geese
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polypropylenes
  • Polyurethanes
  • Radiography
  • Random Allocation
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Supine Position / physiology*
  • Temperature


  • Polypropylenes
  • Polyurethanes
  • polyurethane foam