By Tina M. Gottlieb, D.C.
I get asked about pillows and sleep every day in my practice. Choosing the right pillow for you is really important as it will keep your head and neck supported in a neutral position. The wrong pillow will keep you in a less than ideal position for hours at a time, can exacerbate health issues, and create new ones. A great pillow will impact how well you sleep, how well your neck and spine is supported, and help maintain great health. I won’t go into the science here, but your neck has a direct impact on your overall health and keeping it supported and in a neutral position is ideal. Sleep is about a third of your life and it’s when your body should be busy healing and regenerating. Investing in a great pillow will make a difference. When purchasing a pillow we take into consideration:
- Do you prefer to sleep on your side, back, or both?
- How broad are your shoulders?
- How firm is your mattress?
- Do you have any structural changes to your neck such as a loss of the normal curve or degenerative changes?
So, if you have narrow shoulders and sleep on a soft mattress you will need a thinner pillow than someone with broad shoulders and a firm mattress. The cost of a pillow is not always indicative of how great it is. It’s much more about the personal fit. I recommend a cervical pillow that patients rave about. It is adjustable and fits about 90% of adults and teenagers.
Signs you might need a new pillow:
- Pain or stiffness in your neck, shoulders, or arms when you wake up
- Hands falling asleep while you sleep
- Restless sleep
- You use two pillows stacked
- You scrunch or shape your pillow to try to get support
To get the best sleep possible I have a few other tips. Your body is like a toddler. It likes routine, and signals to your brain that it is time to quiet the mind and go to sleep.
- Shut down electronics an hour before bed
- Create the same routine prior to bed
- Have the same sleep and wake cycle
- Never sleep on your stomach. Side or back is best
So, go on and invest in a great pillow because you deserve to feel great!