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Pillow vs. Pillow: Why Pillow Talk Is Kinky For Your Neck?

As you can imagine, the subject of what is the correct or "best" pillows, beds, and office chair questions comes up frequently in our office. Most (not all) of our patients are...

As you can imagine, the subject of the correct or "best" pillows, beds, and office chairs comes up frequently in our office.  Most (not all) of our patients are sleeping on inappropriate pillows and bedding, aggravating their secondary condition/symptom of neck pain. In addition, work place ergonomics (how their computer, desk and chairs are properly or improperly fitted) can and does have significant negative impact to our spines. And of course, the chairs we sit on at home – especially those big, comfy recliners – are HORRENDOUS for your neck or back problem.

What to look for?

With pillows, size really does matter. The size of your body must be matched up to the appropriate pillow size. If you are sleeping with two or more pillows this is an indicator of a pillow problem, or if you have to twist, roll up or contort your favorite pillow to get it "just right" again ... another indicator of improper pillow to body coupling.  Proper measurement of the neck to shoulder ratio and consideration on sleep positions is critical in choosing the correct size.  Side sleeper will need a different size compared to a back sleeper, because of the shoulders that increase the distance of your head from the mattress. Improper sizing causes a structural shift in the neck structures causing secondary conditions of stiffness and pain.

Materials of the pillow must be consistent enough to provide support in the various position you sleep. Most do not just sleep on their back, some sleep on their side, or back and side or the dreaded stomach sleeper (not good at all).  Regardless, a good pillow will support your spine in whatever position you sleep.  If you are waking up stiff and sore, this indicates a pillow or mattress issue. Density matters. I am not a fan of the big fluffy pillows – they are great as accent pieces (my wife is a designer) and lousy for support – even if you love the fluffy pillow, they are the antithesis of support.

I am not a fan of the water or feather pillows – they do not support your neck (even if you like them and it feels good). Why? Because, these materials do not support the anatomical correct shape of your neck. They conform to your structural abnormality not assisting in enhancing or protecting your spines normal range. Just like candy – it looks good and tastes yummy, but no one will say that candy is good for you. Yes, occasionally who doesn't enjoy a sweet here and there, and just like sweets the wrong pillow over time will wreak havoc on your spine.

Will the correct pillow be comfortable?

Just like anything new, the correctly chosen pillow will for most (not all) takes time for your body to adapt to the proper anatomically supportive/beneficial position (usually 1 to 2 weeks).  After your body (spine, muscles, ligaments and disc) has successfully adapted, you will never want to sleep on an inferior pillow ever again (yes, it is that dramatic).

Why is this a big deal?

Sleep matters, every above average doctor knows proper sleep is vital for good health.

Have a GREAT Day!

Dr. Chris Chase and the Crew

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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