What Types of Pillows Do Chiropractors Recommend
By Sara Butler
Chiropractors get asked a bevy of questions, but one of the top questions the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic get asked about is pillows. Yes -- pillows!
You may think a pillow is just something you rest your head on at night, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s estimated that people spend an average of 229,000 hours asleep throughout their lives. If you’re concerned about spinal health, then all those hours with your head supported (or not adequately supported) by a pillow can make a big difference in your spinal health as well as your overall health and wellness.
Let’s answer this question once and for all: What type of pillows do chiropractors recommend?
What Is the Best Sleep Position?
Before we take a deep pillow dive, it’s important to first understand what the value of your sleep position is in the healthy sleep equation.
For most people, the best position to sleep in is on your side. If you utilize pillows and support your body properly in the side-sleeping position, then it keeps your spine in a neutral alignment throughout the night. You don’t want your neck tilting up or down and your hips going in the opposite direction. If you can keep your spine in line from your neck to your tailbone, then you’ll sleep comfortably and wake up refreshed without neck, back, or hip pain.
he knees also play an important role in spine alignment. You will need to utilize a pillow between your knees to keep the legs parallel and to prevent pressure points that will have you tossing and turning in your sleep. As long as your knees are supported and aligned, the position of your lower legs is up to you.
The shoulders are also an important aspect of side sleeping. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the shoulder you’re sleeping on. That’s why you can either use another pillow between your arms to help support your shoulders, or you can sleep with your lower shoulder slightly forward and your hand on your pillow.
If you’re not a natural side sleeper but want to break the habit of being a stomach sleeper, then discuss how to make it happen with your chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic. They can give you some tips and tricks to make sleeping on your side a healthy habit.
Does Sleep Position Impact the Type of Pillow to Use?
It’s important to understand that not all pillows are created equal. If you can find the right pillows, then you can enhance the quality of your sleep by improving your sleeping posture. One of your primary goals should be to find a good pillow.
For side sleepers, you need a pillow that will fill the gap between the mattress and the head to help keep your spine in alignment. To help support your shoulder and neck, you should look for a firm, full pillow.
Even though side sleeping is the best, we know that not everyone is there quite yet. If you’re a back sleeper, then look for a pillow that adequately supports your head and neck but doesn’t leave your head higher than the rest of your body. Medium-thick pillows are usually key, and you want to look for something that is in the Goldilocks zone -- not too full but not too flat. Pillows that allow you to take away or put in stuffing may be a good investment so you can find the right support.
Now, if you sleep on your stomach, then you need to work on sleeping a different way. It’s the worst position for your neck and back. As you work on training yourself to sleep in a different position, find a soft pillow that is not very full to keep your spine in as neutral position as possible in this sleep position.
What Is a Cervical Pillow?
These pillows are specifically constructed to maintain proper posture as you sleep. Cervical pillows are shaped in a way that keeps your neck and head in the proper position as you sleep. They come in various shapes, materials, and sizes. What is important is that you find a cervical pillow that has the best shape for your body and sleeping position. They aren’t a must, but they are useful if you’re struggling with neck pain, back pain, or headaches.
How Often Should You Replace Your Pillow?
You may still have a pillow you bought brand new in 2008 but here’s a word of advice: Get rid of it. Most pillows need to be replaced within every 18 months. High-quality memory foam pillows may need to be replaced less often, about every three years. But if you’re not sure it’s time to replace your pillows, then there are a few signs the time has come.
First, examine your pillow. Is it heavily stained? Does it have an odor? Any tears or holes? If any of those exist, then toss it and get a new one. Remember, your pillow collects sweat and dead skin. You don’t want to sleep on pounds of your dead skin flakes every night, do you?
Another way to tell if it’s time for something new is by doing the fold test. If you fold your pillow in half and it stays that way, then it’s time for a replacement. Pillows should spring back to their original form. Flat pillows also need to be tossed.
Your pillow is more important than you may realize when it comes to healthy sleep. If you have questions, don’t forget that the doctors at The Joint Chiropractic are here for support -- just like a proper pillow!
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