Have you ever slept with a different pillow and woke up the next morning with a stiff neck? A pillow can make or break the quality of sleep you get each night and so it is important to find one that gives you the most restorative sleep possible. Not only will a "bad" pillow lead to a "stiff neck" but overtime it can lead to headaches, pinched nerves, tight muscles, and promote poor posture. Just like a mattress, a pillow should support your spine while you sleep. So what are the qualities in a perfect pillow?
1. Versatility: Most people don't stay in one position when they sleep at night. Do you find yourself falling asleep in one position and waking up in another? Ideally you avoid sleeping on your stomach (because its terrible for your spine!) and you alternate between sleeping on your sides and your back. These positions are most conducive to optimal spinal alignment. Having a pillow that can keep your spine in proper alignment weather you are on your side or back is key and not always easy to find!
2. Firmness: Raise your hand if you are guilty of taking a pillow, "balling it up" and shoving it under your head. Yikes! Put your pillow to the test; The Fold Test. Fold you pillow in half at the center, does it spring back? It should. If it doesn't that pillow isn't firm or sturdy enough to support you! Our spines are designed with approximately 43 degree curvature in our neck which allows us to move, twist, and turn at the drop of a hat. We need a pillow to support this important structural design. If you are waking up frequently with neck pain at night or wake up with pain or headaches in the morning you may need a firmer pillow!
3: Material: Some pillows are made with dense foam or memory foam and while they may comfortable initially they tend not to hold their shape during the night. They bounce back and are ready for the next night but usually give way under constant pressure. They can also be quite heavy which some people may prefer or not. A down or feather filled pillow may be light and airy but usually separates during the course of the night and doesn't provide much spinal support. A dense fiber material such as wool, cotton, or synthetic cotton pillow usually provides enough support to be long lasting and holds its shape pretty well.
Pillows are a personal choice, but there are some key points that you should keep in mind. If you are having chronic neck pain and are trying every pillow under the sun, it's time to get to the chiropractor! If you have spinal fixations or misalignments in your neck, no pillow will feel good! We can help retrain your spine, heal prior injuries, and guide you in the right direction to get you sleeping better!
From the Desk of Dr. Lisette Miller Kondrad, Chiropractic Physician at Clark Road Chiropractic Center in Sarasota FL. She has been in clinical practice since 2013 and provides a variety of chiropractic techniques including Webster technique, acupuncture, and cupping to improve healing and health. Contact us today for more information!