Hello Edmonton. I am Dr. Chad Mestdagh here to give another chiropractic health tip. Today I am talking about pillows. I probably get the question once a week about what kind of pillow to should I use. Here in the office, we sell the Normalizer pillow. I am personally a little attached to them as they are made back in my hometown of Winnipeg. Plus it is just a really good pillow. I will say that it is not the only good pillow out there.
I Just Want to Sleep Well. What Do I Do?
In my experience, people sleep in different positions. And each of those positions have different rules. It would be really easy for me to say that you shouldn't sleep on your stomach. But that is not going to be very useful advise to anyone who prefers to sleep on your stomach.
Stomach sleepers don't really need a pillow. They need an airway. You can't actually sleep on your stomach because you would not be able to breath. (Unless you fell asleep on a massage table, but that is another story). You have to have your head turned. Which could translate into having a constant pain at the bottom of your neck. The best advise I can give to a stomach sleeper would be to get a body pillow or a rolled up comforter so that you can sleep at a 45 degree angle to the bed. You can still get that sensation of pressure on your belly which you are likely craving. And you also have an airway.
Side sleepers and back sleepers do need pillows that will help with the curves in their necks. Read on
So What Makes a Good Pillow?
A good pillow has three rules that it needs to follow. It needs to be comfortable. I will say that the pillow we sell in the office is only comfortable after a month of using it. Before that it just feels really hard. You get to decide what a comfortable feels like.
It needs to be the right height. This is going to matter the most if you are a side sleeper. When you sleep on your side, it should be as though you are standing and staring straight ahead. If the pillow is too high or too low, it would be the same as if you were on a landline phone all day and you couldn't use your hands to hold the phone. Put the neck into an awkward position for too long and you are going to be uncomfortable.
It should have some kind of ergonomic support. I say this one knowing that some people might disagree with, so I will say this one with a caveat. If you really like your pillow and do not have any issues with it, then ignore this third point. But if you are reading this piece of text, then you probably thought that this article was interesting for a reason. And you are still here reading it. Why should the pillow have some ergonomic support? I think this would be best handled with a story.
One of the most uncomfortable sleeps I had was when I was on a vacation in Texas. The pillow in the hotel looked really stylish. But it had a thick center and a rather thin edge. As I was sleeping there (on my side), my neck was caving into the air space left by the thin edge. When I tried to sleep on my back, it was as though I was texting with the phone in my lap for about an hour. If your pillow is not designed ergonomically, you are over the course of time get very uncomfortable.
Do I Really Need to Buy a Good Pillow?
No, actually. I am sure that I just surprised a lot of people by saying that. Quick story: I am writing this while on Christmas vacation and I ended up sleeping at my in-laws over the holidays. They are also in Edmonton, but I really didn't want to go back home and get my good Normalizer pillow that I really like. Instead I had really cheep flat pillow that didn't have any ergonomic curves and really wasn't the right height for my size.
So what did I do? Well I had two problems. It was not high enough for my preferred sided sleeping position. I solved this by getting a bath towel to raise it for my height. Second: it didn't have any ergonomic support for my neck. I solved this by taking my 5 year old's sweat pants that were still clean and he didn't use and put it underneath the bottom part of the pillow to lift it up and create a space for my neck.
I slept wonderfully throughout the whole trip.