sleep

A chiropractor's point of view on pillows and sleeping position

Saturday, July 20, 2013 by: Dr. Daniel Zagst
Tags: sleeping position, pillows, spine support

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(NaturalNews) Back sleeper? Side sleeper? Stomach sleeper? All of the above? Humans can sleep in a wide variety of positions. Not one position is technically the "right" way to sleep, although there are strong arguments for some over others. This is where pillows come in. Pillows are there for support, nothing else (I know you will argue for decorative purposes but let's think functional). Using the right pillow in the right place during sleep can lead to a sound slumber without the residual neck and back pain upon waking.

Sleeping positions

The most common sleeping positions are back, side, and stomach. There are some other contortionist positions but we will stick with these for now. With each position, the placement and type of pillow should differ. If you always sleep in the same position, you may want to try the others to see if it makes a change in your comfort level and quality of sleep.

Back sleepers

As the most common position when falling asleep, it is also the most common position for snoring. If you aren't a snorer or sleep alone, you'll want to place a firm pillow under your knees and a medium firm pillow under your head. The pillow under the knees will take pressure off of your low back allowing your spine to assume its natural curves without stress. The pillow under your head should not be propping you up, but providing some support to the natural curve of your neck.

Side sleepers

This is the most common sleeping position throughout the night, and the best for your spine. If you snore on your back, shifting to your side generally quiets you down. Place a firm pillow between your knees to alleviate pressure off of your hips and low back. Another firm pillow should support your head and neck in a straight line with the rest of your body. Two pillows or soft pillows tilt your head and stresses the muscles on either side of your neck that can lead to stiff necks, headaches, and even torticollis in the mornings. It may take some trial and error to find one that is just right. If you sleep alone, a body pillow is a great investment to spoon with as it supports the shoulders and legs without moving around on you.

Stomach sleepers

Although this position is generally scolded upon, it happens to be a natural position that we all have slept in. Even when you tell someone that sleeping on your stomach is bad for your spine, it doesn't change much (they still do). Proper pillow placement in the stomach sleeping position can reduce your chances of waking up with back and neck pain. Placing a firm pillow underneath your hips/stomach will reduce the stress on your low back and neck. This pillow placement may eliminate the need for a head pillow, but if you still need one, use it to support your head at a downward angle as opposed to totally turned to the right or left. If you have an extra pillow lying around, place it under your ankles for even more support for your spine.

Type of pillow

There are several different types of pillows and materials for pillows. The price of a pillow doesn't always reflect its comfort. Instead of going through the gauntlet of materials, check out an unbiased chart of pillow reviews and ratings at (http://www.sleeplikethedead.com/pillow-reviews.html). Aside from that, the most popular are buckwheat, down alternative, polyester, and memory foam. I personally use a polyester pillow for my head and a foam pillow for my knees. Find what works for you.

Sources:


http://www.sleeplikethedead.com/pillow-reviews.html
http://maddieruud.hubpages.com/hub/Pillow_Placement
http://www.necksolutions.com/neck-pillow.html
http://health.howstuffworks.com

About the author:
Dr. Daniel Zagst is a chiropractic physician at Advanced Health & Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. He has a BS in Professional Studies of Adjunctive Therapies, Doctorate of Chiropractic from NYCC, and an Advanced Certificate in Sport Science and Human Performance. Find out more at www.dzchiro.com

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