There are contoured pillows that hold the head and neck in a better position. But Robin McKenzie in his book ‘Treat Your Own Neck’ recommends pillows that you can adjust to your shape as being the best. He writes ‘ideally feathers or kapok, with rubber or foam chips as a second choice. Make a hollow for your head and bunch the edge to form a thick support for your neck. If the pillow does not provide adequate support for your neck, use a supportive roll in addition. Make a soft foam roll of about 8cm in diameter and 45cm long. Place this inside your pillowcase, on top of the pillow and along its lower border. Alternatively, use a small hand towel of about 50cm long and wide. Fold this in half and roll it loosely, then wind it round your neck and pin the ends together in front. The measurements are a guide, each person needs to experiment for himself.’

When lying on your side, it may improve comfort to have a pillow or cushion between your knees. Try bunching a duvet around your head, neck and back; you can change its shape to support you in different ways. You may find a small towel helpful sometimes to give extra support for your lower back. An unsuitable mattress can cause much discomfort. If you have the opportunity to try different types in a shop or when you stay somewhere else this may give you some idea of what you need. Joint pain may mean that the surface of the mattress is too hard, and back pain that it is too soft. The ideal is a good level of support with a soft surface. Mattress overlays can be obtained which may help if the mattress is too hard. Pressure relieving measures can be beneficial for painful muscles or joints and for general comfort, as well as for prevention of sores (see Pressure Sores).

A bed cradle keeps the weight of the covers off your feet, or you could try a pillow by your feet. You may need to use a double duvet or a blanket on the end to reduce draughts. If you are at risk of falling out of bed, consider getting a bed guard. Don’t be embarrassed to lie down in company or to have visitors when you are in bed. Use lightweight drawers, tidy pockets, shelving systems and containers to keep frequently used items organised and within reach. One person with M.E. attaches her watch to a table light instead of her wrist. Although some parts of the room are likely to be visually busy, have a specific area for work/ clutter and try to include other areas which are more peaceful to look at, in order to avoid an over-stimulating environment. Drawers are less visually over-stimulating than shelves, or you can have a piece of material attached to the front of shelving systems so that you don’t have to look at everything.

  • FOAM FOR COMFORT, UNIT TWO, WYTHER LANE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, WYTHER LANE, KIRKSTALL, LEEDS, LS5 3BT Tel: 0845 345 8101 Fax: 0845 345 8102 E-mail: Website: Foam For Comfort sell mattresses, pillows, cushions and are happy to discuss individual needs.

  • SPENCO soft mattresses overlays can be obtained from SPENCO HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL, 45 LONDON ROAD, HORSHAM, WEST SUSSEX, RH12 1AN Tel: 01403 321900 E-mail: Website: These are sometimes available through district nurses or occupational therapists.

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