A question I am often asked is, "What are the best pillows for good sleep?". It is so vital to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis because this is when we heal and repair. Your bed and pillow need to not only feel comfortable but provide healthy alignment for your spine and neck.
It is optimal to sleep on your back if possible. Most people move around a lot in their sleep, so they start in one position and then move around during the night. This is quite normal. A major deterrent to back sleeping is excessive snoring. So, to avoid disturbing your partner, or the entire household in some situations, it’s ok to sleep on your side. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your spine as you must torque your head and neck in order to breathe. This stresses the neck and commonly causes subluxations (misalignments). Many stomach sleepers complain of headaches due to this poor sleeping position. I know first-hand how problematic this can be. I had to cure myself of this bad habit years ago. I have a simple solution to stop stomach sleeping. If you need this information, just reach out to me.
If you can sleep on your back, you might find it helps to place one or two pillows under your knees to take the stress off your low back. A majority of people today have a condition called Forward Head Posture, and this is just what it sounds like. Forward Head Posture is caused by a combination of previous traumas and is reinforced by the extreme amount of time people spend bending over electronic devices, computers, and a multitude of other activities.
Most people benefit from sleeping on a cervical roll, a firm cylindrical cervical pillow, about 3 inches in diameter. This device allows the back of your head to rest on the bed, ensuring that your neck is in its proper alignment. This device is quite firm, and if it feels uncomfortable, it is likely that you do not have a good curve in your neck. Start slowly with 15 minutes, then increase to 30, and then eventually you can spend hours on it. There is no set formula. Listen to your body and do what feels comfortable. This simple device can really help correct and maintain a healthy cervical curve. We carry this cervical pillow here in the office. When people tell me that they like their cervical roll, I know that their curve is improving.
When sleeping on your side, the cervical roll is not going to work as it is not big enough. If you sleep on your side, you will need a bigger pillow under your head and neck. You want your head and neck to be in alignment with the rest of your body. It helps to have someone look at you to determine if your spine is straight. If your pillow is too high or low, you will be introducing an uncomfortable kink. You can actually subluxate yourself in your sleep. If you find yourself putting the arm you are lying on under your pillow, your pillow is probably too flat. There are many expensive pillows out there, but you do not have to spend a lot to get a good one. The key factor in determining the right pillow is the width of your shoulders. A man often needs a thicker pillow than a woman. I usually buy a 2-pack of overstuffed, hypoallergenic polyester pillows and then I retire the older pillows to the guest room. You can wash pillows in the machine a time or two, and then fluff them in the dryer with dryer balls. But they don’t last forever. Another tip for side sleeping is to put another pillow in between your knees. For many people, this takes the stress off the lower back.
If you find yourself buying multiple pillows and you are still not sleeping comfortably, it’s probably not your pillow, it’s your neck. Come in for a comprehensive evaluation to determine what the problem is. We can help!