What is the Best Pillow?
Almost daily a patient will ask “what is the best kind of pillow to use?”
It’s a great question and since my business is the business of helping people keep their spine aligned, I thought a quick post about it was justified.
So that I could legitimately say I researched it, I looked at 2 articles on ‘Top Rated Pillows.’
These articles give you their top rated pillows (and conveniently a link to go purchase it from that is no doubt tied to their own account) for many different categories.
Categories included pillows such as the natural pillow, the synthetic pillow, the side sleepers pillow, orthopedic pillow, wedge pillow, pillows full of feathers, pillows packed with beads, and even the stomach sleepers pillow.
If you’ve ever tried to shop for a new pillow then you know there are more choices than you could possibly process. So what happens?
Well you likely end up selecting the one that is best marketed towards the discomfort you are trying to ‘cure.’
Sometimes it seems to do the trick and more often it becomes just another pillow that is stowed in a closet as you move on to the next promised miracle.
So, after all that ranting, which pillow is the best?
The answer is I don’t know (but I do have an opinion I will reveal in a moment) and neither does anyone else. It really comes down to whichever one seems to aid in getting you the most comfortable and restful sleep
So let’s start there… ‘restful.’
First, stop sleeping on your stomach. If you are out of your twenties it’s time to move past it. Why you ask?
Really for several reasons but the main one is because you must rotate your head to lay face down in bed or else you won’t be able to breathe.
By rotating your neck and spine for long periods night after night, you are likely going to end up with spinal bones that get ‘stuck’ that way. Over time this creates an alignment problem which may result in issues such as pain and limited range of motion.
Get Anatomically Correct
Okay, so you know you don’t want to be on your stomach so that leaves your side and back as options. Both are fine.
When on your side, the goal should be to keep your neck and shoulder junction at 90 degrees or as close as possible. My shoulders are 20 inches across so I might require a thicker or wider support (i.e. pillow) for my head than a smaller person with shoulders that are 15 inches across.
Assuming you don’t have some developmental spine disorder or specific surgery that would prevent you from wanting to have your neck in the ideal position, then you really should strive for being in the… well, ideal position.
Go Cheap – Heck, Go Free
Let’s assume for a moment that you decide you will opt for sleeping on your back or at least trying to start out that way.
Based on the ideal anatomy of your neck spine being a forward curve, it would make sense that you would want to encourage that position while you are laying there for hours on end.
A simple way to accomplish this is to get a bath towel (I prefer those soft decorative ones that my son and I are not supposed to wipe our hands on – which we do of course), fold it over long ways a time or two and then roll it up until it is a diameter that is the right size to fill that gap behind your neck.
You can figure this out by laying on your mattress and then putting the rolled up towel behind your neck until you determine the size that comfortably provides you support of the spine.
Voila! You have a perfect neck pillow.
While I have had a lot of success with my chiropractic patients in helping them maintain and improve their spine alignment and sleep quality with this ‘towel pillow,’ I do need to give you one warning.
Start slow. Chances are you will be a little sore at first as you push your spine into a more perfect alignment while you sleep. Don’t force it. Use the towel just 20 or 30 minutes the first several nights and work your way towards hours.
And if you need to roll onto your side… no sweat, just grab the pillow off the floor and slide it under your neck and start off with the towel again the next night.
Rest well and well aligned!