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The Importance of a Good Pillow

By Sara Butler

When you seek advice from your chiropractor about the health of your spine, one of the last things you may expect them to weigh in on is your pillow choice. Pillows actually play a big role in the health of your spine, and using the wrong type of pillow can lead to problems back problems. Here’s what you need to know in order to pick a pillow that will support your spine in all the right places!

Why Pillows are Important

Your pillow is meant to help support your upper body as you sleep and keep your spine in a neutral alignment. It has to fit your size and your curves, and it also needs to be the right kind of pillow for the sleeping position you prefer.

Pillow Support for Spinal Issues

If you have a spinal problem or disorder, finding the right kind of pillow may be even more important to the health of your spine and the quality of your sleep at night. After all, sleep is how your body heals itself, so if you’re not getting enough of it or the quality is lacking, then your body can’t use that time to do what it needs to do.

Pillow Fillings

The different kinds of fillings in a pillow offer different levels of support. You will find less structure and support from natural fillings such as down or feathers, and more support from other types of fillings. In studies comparing the support of pillows based on their fillings, orthopedic pillows filled with polypropylene capsules gave the best support, memory foam pillows the next best and feather pillows the worst.

Research is always helpful, but only you can judge the right kind of pillow for you. Try out a pillow for a week to see if it offers enough support and comfort for your personal needs.

Pillows and Sleeping Positions

You may have never looked, but many pillows are labeled to let you know which sleeping position they are best for. If you’re a back sleeper, you need to look for a pillow that supports your neck, head, and shoulders well, and preferably has a low profile to keep your spine aligned. Also, get a pillow to put under your knees to keep pressure off your lower back.

If you’re a side sleeper, you need a pillow that will support your head and neck while keeping your body aligned. You will need a thicker pillow than a back sleeper. You also should get a pillow to put between your knees in order to keep your spine in a neutral position, and this pillow should be on the firmer side.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, you should talk to your chiropractor about how you can stop doing it and adopt another sleep position because it’s the worst position for your spine and neck. If you do sleep like this, you need a flat pillow or no pillow at all, and if you can place a flat pillow under your stomach that may also help. 

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