What pillow should I use???
Dr. Ressler is often asked “What pillow should I use in order to wake up feeling refreshed and without pain?” For many of our patients, choosing the right pillow can be confusing. “Do I need foam, water-filled, feathers or whatever?” The key to a good pillow is not only what it is made of, but the thickness related to your head position. You need a pillow that has a firm support to keep your head in the same position throughout the night. The reason you toss and turn throughout the night is due to pressure points. The body moves you around because a particular area is being hurt or compressed. If you are sleeping on your side, the ideal position is to keep your spine straight line parallel with the mattress. The thickness of the pillow should keep your head centered on your shoulders while you are lying on your side. So even if a feather pillow is your favorite, then just make sure when it compresses from the weight of your head/neck, that your head does not tilt down or is angled upward.
If you find that your head is tilted, simply layer a towel thicker or flatter underneath your pillow. This will help to adjust your pillow to the correct height that you need. Place an additional pillow or towel between your legs to prevent the top leg rolling forward and twisting your low back.
If you sleep on your back, you should use a very thin pillow. The pillow should slightly tilt your head back and be placed between the base of your skull and the top of the shoulders. Another pillow should be placed under the back of the legs. This will support the low back and help the muscles to relax.
Cervical pillows are often a good choice; however, it is important how your head rests on the curved portion. If your cervical pillow has a small curve, it can be used under your neck if you are laying on your back. If you do not have broad shoulders, you can also use the small curve on the side sleeping position. For a person with broad shoulders, choose a pillow that has a large curve on it, to use in the side sleeping position. If the cervical pillow causes your head to be tilted downward because it is not very thick, place a towel or additional pillow under it. So, remember, it is not really what the pillow is made from that is as important. It is having a pillow that puts your spine in a straight position. This removes the stress points that occur when your neck is tilted down or up and will allow you to wake up feeling refreshed!
If you are a stomach sleeper I have some bad news for you... This is the one position that is guaranteed to cause low back and neck pain over time. When you sleep on your stomach, you are straightening your natural spinal curves. Not to mention, that your neck is in a turned position all night which will cause muscle pain. in all my years of practice, I have not seen a patient who could go from a stomach sleeper to sleeping on their back. So I suggest you sleep on your side instead. Make sure to follow the instructions I gave originally in this blog. It usually takes two weeks to make the change, but be patient and keep putting yourself into the correct side position.
So don't spend a lot of money on expensive pillows! Remember to think of your body position and pillow thickness. If you sleep with correct posture, you will be sure to get a good nights rest!