Choosing the Correct Pillow – Chiropractor in Centurion
Choosing the correct pillow will not only helps you to get a good night’s sleep, but could also help with your neck pain and headaches. It’s seldom that we think about our pillows and whether we ought to change them after a few years. How a good pillow is made is probably also one of the last things on your mind when you lay your head down to rest. Chiropractors often see patients who complain about a sore neck after waking up the next day. The wrong pillow can cause many problems but the right one will help you have better posture as you sleep.
To understand why the correct pillow is so vital, let’s look at the anatomy of your neck. You have seven neck vertebrae, separated by a spinal disc, that function together to allow a great range of motion for your head and neck. Between adjacent vertebrae we find facet joints. This is where the most movement occurs. We also have lots of muscles and ligaments that attach to the vertebrae and cause movement when they contract.
When you sleep on your side with an incorrect pillow, your neck will either go into side-bending towards or away from the pillow and could result in neck pain or headache.
When you bend your neck to the side, the little facet joints on the side you are bending towards gets compressed and opened up on the opposite side. If this occurs over a period of time, like when sleeping for a few hours in that position, the facet joints on the side of compression might become stuck and not be able to move as it is supposed to or possibly compress a spinal nerve. On the opposite side, opening up the joints might cause the muscles on that side to become overstretched and painful.
So how do we know if there is a problem with our pillows?
With side sleeping, your pillow is supposed to fit comfortably in the space between your shoulder and your ear to support your head. When you lie on your side with a pillow that is too flat or too fluffy, your neck will be forced into a side bending position for hours while you sleep.
When sleeping on your back it is important to have a pillow that supports your neck to prevent neck extension, or backward tilting of your head, during the night. This will also cause compression of the facet joints at the back of your neck as well as spasms in the back of the neck. To prevent lower back pain with back sleeping, it is recommended to place a pillow under your knees to help take some of the pressure off of your lower back by relaxing your lower back.
What makes a good pillow and what does a chiropractitioner suggest is best?
Pillows are a huge benefit because:
- They provide support to your head and neck
- They allow for comfortable positioning
- Some are hypoallergenic
- Some pillows have cooling fabric which is perfect for warm nights
- Most pillow sizes can fit an average-size bed
What are the disadvantages of sleeping on a pillow?
- Cotton pillows can give to unwanted wrinkles
- They may lead to dust mites
- When sleeping wrong, certain pillows can induce neck pain
What types of pillows does a chiropractitioner recommend?
The type of pillow you choose depends on your lifestyle and needs. Some pillows are suitable especially for patients who may have had surgery. Some pillows provide support to patients having to wear Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) masks for sleep apnoea.
In most cases, pillows provide good support while you’re lying down.
- Roll-shape orthopaedic pillow – provides optimum posture support when lying down. It can also, be used for neck support during travel.
- Memory foam pillows – memory foam conforms to any shape and in the case of a pillow, it will give excellent support for your neck and head.
- Pillow with microbeads – microbeaded pillows are usually very firm and provide good support as a travel pillow.
- Neck pillows – these are specifically designed to support your neck and cervical spine.
- Feather pillows – provide a natural spring effect and is firmer than down pillows
- Down pillows – as its name suggests, down pillows are filled with the down feathers of birds.
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