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Posted on 01-26-2017

Do you suffer from insomnia? Are you sleeping long enough but still wake up feeling tired? Do you suffer from sleep apnea or do you snore? Has it occurred to you that part of the problem might be your pillow? Yes, your pillow. It is not just something for you to snuggle or cuddle with. It is there to support your head, neck, and shoulders and promote good postural alignment. After all, your nervous system passes through your spinal canal and controls everything about how your body functions, so it should be a very small leap to figure out that your pillow is important.

Purpose of a Pillow

Pillows have been used since the early civilizations in Mesopotamia around 7000 BC. In fact a sign of wealth during that time was how many pillows you had. Pillows have long been used to keep insects and bugs out of your hair and mouth while sleeping. Even cowboys used their saddles as pillows rather than laying their head on the hard, and often wet, ground. But, in general, a pillow is used to support the head and neck while lying down.

Types of Pillows

If you are still sleeping with the pillow you had as a child, or if you are so addicted to your pillow that you carry it with you when you travel, you may not be aware of the many types of pillows available in today’s marketplace.  Pillows can be classified based upon shape and inner content.

  • Shape- Pillows are available in every size and shape imaginable, each with its own pros and cons. Pillows vary in size from a standard to a full body pillow. The inner content of the pillow can influence the shape, and certainly will once you place your head on it. There are specialty pillows designed to position your head to reduce snoring and episodes of sleep apnea.
  • Content-What is inside of your pillow is influenced by what you find comfortable; but have you considered that it could be influencing your health? If you are using a pillow, maybe a feather pillow that you had as a child, you could be placing your head on all manner of dust mites and allergens.

What to Look for When Choosing a Pillow

When choosing a pillow, there are several things that are important, not discounting personal choice and comfort.

Sleep Position

Consider your sleep position as you shop for a pillow. Although you do change position many times during the night, most of us have a preference or a position that we find just before dozing off. Although roughly 75% of people sleep on their side, your chiropractor is likely to tell you that sleeping on your back is healthier for your spine.

Back sleepers - A back sleeper needs a pillow that is thinner than that used by a side sleeper so that the neck can be properly aligned with the spinal column and not thrown too far forward.

Side Sleepers -A side sleeper should use a pillow that keeps the head, shoulders and neck in alignment with the spine. Placing a pillow between the knees adds another plus to postural alignment.

Stomach Sleepers - A stomach sleeper should use a very thin pillow-On your stomach is the least recommended sleep position as your spinal column is placed under constant strain.

Cervical Pillow - A cervical pillow is a specially designed pillow has a dip where your head lies and is raised at the area of the neck to encourage proper spinal alignment. This pillow is especially great for those accused of snoring.

Material

Hypoallergenic - We recommend that one of the first considerations should be to allergies, so hypoallergenic is best. Pillows, not unlike mattresses, tend to wear out. An older pillow could be full of dead skin cells, mold, mildew, fungus, and dust mites.

Pillow material - Choose an inner content that conforms to your comfort level but that provides the right amount of support.

Pelphrey Chiropractic is Lexington, Kentucky’s trusted chiropractor. If you think your sleep difficulties could be traced or influenced by your pillow, we would love to consult with you. Many spinal and medical disorders are negatively influenced by our sleep practices and the bedding we choose.  Call today for an appointment. We want you to Be Well and Live Well.

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