Here at The Chiropractic Office of Dr. Gene Ross we get asked a lot of things, but one of the most popular topics is pillows. There’s no doubt that the pillow you choose has a big impact on the health of your spine. That’s why it’s really important to choose a pillow that provides the right support for your neck. There’s not just one type of pillow chiropractors recommend, but there are some guidelines you can use to choose the pillow that is right for you.
If you’re a back sleeper often times you’re sleeping with a couple of pillows behind your head sometimes you back sleepers have as many as 4 pillows. All these pillows are raising your head quite a few inches which leads to terrible neck pain and even causes you to snore. The best way to sleep is to have perfect neck posture meaning you have a nice forward curve or bend.
We see a lot of patients who complain of neck pain come in with what we call Anterior Weight Bearing. This means that the patient’s head is in front of their shoulders instead of inline with them. How does a patient get this you may ask? Well it comes from sitting at a desk typing all day and sleeping with multiple pillows under the neck/head forcing it forward all day/night. In order to fix this it requires slowly weaning yourself off of using pillows completely so that eventually you are laying flat on your back on the mattress. When sleeping on your back you also want to be sure you place a pillow under your knees to help keep your spine aligned and take pressure off your lower back.
If you’re a side sleeper often times you will wake up with shoulder and neck pain. We can avoid said pain by using the proper pillows and pillow placement. The correct pillow for a side sleeper is one that is fluffy enough to fill the space between your head, neck and mattress. Meaning, when you lay on your head down on your pillow your head is not tilted upward or downward but is in a neutral position. Great examples of these type of pillows are hotel pillows. If you’ve ever wondered why you can get a better night sleep on vacation than in your own bed maybe look into what your head is resting on.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, don’t be. This may sound harsh but it’s for your own good. Now we realize this isn't something that can be changed overnight but you can train yourself to sleep on your back. Sleeping on your stomach increases pressure on your spine, especially the lower back. Not only that, you put a lot of force on your neck due to turning your head to the side when lying on your pillow. Sleeping on your stomach also increases the pressure inside of your ribcage, making the heart have to work harder.