Identify How You Sleep – While it is nearly impossible to know how we sleep at all hours of the night, most of us know in what position we usually fall asleep, or are most comfortable sleeping in. Identifying whether you are a back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper, is step number one. For side sleepers, I recommend a medium to firm pillow, with a pillow in between the knees for support; this allows for keeping the neck, and pelvis neutral. For back and stomach sleepers, I recommend a wider based pillow to support the head, neck, and shoulders that is soft to medium in firmness, with the thickest end being the closest to the feet supporting the neck, and upper shoulders.
Avoid Memory Foam – While memory foam has become very popular, and is often touted as the best; I am rarely in agreeance with memory foam. If you have neck pain, or neck issues, or poor posture, we do not want that to be the way you sleep every night, and your pillow to encourage that incorrect neck posture while you sleep. That would be like putting a cast over a broken bone without first setting it back into place, it’s going to promote incorrect bone growth. I recommend a firmer pillow that doesn’t conform to the contour of the neck; rather the neck contours to the form of the pillow. The pillow’s job is to keep our neck in a neutral support to allow the muscles to relax and recover as we sleep without being loaded or lengthened, and keeping the palate opened for proper air flow, while keeping the discs healthy and hydrated.
The Older in Age, the Thicker the Pillow – This is a good rule to use when trying to select the right pillow for you. Because as we age, our discs become less hydrated, and thinner, and our necks become more straight and rigid, a thicker pillow is going to work out better in supporting these structures to ensure sleep is not causing frequent flare-ups to the neck. For the younger folks, a thinner pillow is recommended due to the fact the discs, and height of the neck is much longer, and healthier. It is true, and has been proven time and time again that as we age, we become a little shorter in height due to discs in our spine that become less hydrated, so a thicker pillow is going to suite you much better as you age, and vice versa. If you don’t believe me, measure your height before you go to bed, and then again in the exact same spot when you wake up!
While the pillow is the emphasis in this article, the mattress you use is also crucial in making sure that your spine is being rested in the proper medium. I will try to address that concept in upcoming content. Furthermore, if you can’t seem to get the right pillow and have followed these steps in getting a pillow, and still have constant neck issues, you could be an ideal candidate with us at the Specific Chiropractic Center, all you have to do to have your neck evaluated is go to drgrantdennis.com, and sign up for a complimentary 15 minute consultation. We would love to give you hope, get you well, and allow you to thrive in this life.
Yours in health,
Dr. Grant, drgrantdennis.com, 501-420-2815