Pillow Talk

by Dr. Armstrong

It is important to remember that a pillow should be designed to help restore your posture while you sleep. For people with shoulder problems, it can be very difficult to find a pillow that works for you. The average department store pillow lasts 12-18 months. How old is your pillow?

One method to find out if your pillow is past its prime is to fold your pillow in half. If it just lies there, you have a dead pillow. Time to bury it and start shopping for a new one.

Why is a sleeping on a good pillow such a big deal?

Typically, people like to use 2-3 pillows under their head. This produces forward head posture that pushes you out of spinal alignment. The body will adapt to that position and assume it, which leads to neck tension, shoulder problems, headaches, and then loss of range of motion. Avoiding pillows altogether is just as bad. You need something to prop up the neck and head so that the spine stays aligned.

How you sleep determines what you will want to look for in a pillow? The first thing is to try it out. Go to the store and spend some time with the pillow.

For side sleepers, the nose-to-navel rule is a good guideline. the nose and the navel should be he same height off the bed. The goal is to align the back and head, and to prevent the head from being propped above the spine. Side sleepers tend to prefer the firmest support because they have space to fill under the neck. Back sleepers tend to like medium support. But back sleepers should be aware of the dangers of the head being propped up out of alignment. If you are a stomach sleeper, there are three words of advice: Don't do it!!

Pillows can be dangerous because people tend to feel the need to heed the advice of an advertisement that a pillow will "fix" their neck. Pillows are designed to be supportive of your alignment, not corrective.

Pillows can also be very expensive, costing from $75 to hundreds of dollars. Because you are making an investment, it is important to be educated. I frequently refer patients to Relax the Back. We also carry high quality pillows in our office.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional chiropractic care.  For a free, no obligation consultation, please call our office today at 707.792.1400.

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