Like your mattress, the pillow you choose depends so much on you. Your sleeping position, your preference for harder or softer materials, whether or not you have had a neck injury that needs to be attended to, these all will play a factor in which kind of pillow you should use. Cost also plays a role, with inexpensive pillows running about $10, and higher end ones running over $100 (I personally never thought there was much difference, until I tried a higher end one. I'll never go back, but that doesn't mean you would prefer it. Use the pillow that gives you the best sleep!).
If you find that you wake up with headaches or back pain (yes, your pillow can affect your entire back, not just your neck) you may be in the market for a new one.
Types of chiropractic pillowsThe type of pillow you use is best determined by how you sleep.
If you are a stomach sleeper, you need a softer, pliable pillow that you can mold.
If you are a back sleeper, you need one that will support your neck and keep your head from rolling too much to the side.
If you are a side sleeper, you need one that keeps your spine level, so you don't compress the nerves to your downside arm (if you wake up with your arm or hand asleep, you need a new pillow!).
A Cervical Pillow comes in different shapes. There are simple round rolls that support the neck but don't provide full support for your head, there are Core Pillows that have a sunken core for your head and raised sides for your neck, and there are Memory Foam pillows that conform to your head. There are also specialized neck pillows that look like T's, or are filled with water, and down below I have some examples for you to look at.
A Down Pillow or feather pillow is a good choice for stomach sleepers but not really anyone else. It doesn't have enough support for anyone who sleeps on their side or back, and I generally don't recommend them. I know that when I travel, the hotel usually provides down pillows, and I sleep horribly in hotels. 😉
A Therapeutica Pillow is a specialized pillow designed for optimal alignment of the spine. It is good for side or back sleepers, and has a bit of a custom feel to it since you measure yourself to find the size pillow you need.
A Water Pillow is generally a core type of pillow, and some come pre-filled and others allow you to fill it to your preference. What I like about these is you control how firm or soft it is, so it's truly custom tailored to how you are feeling on any given night. And it's easy to add or remove water as needed. A downside is that it's filled with water; and in the winter can be a bit chilly. A flannel cover will help with that some, but I have had patients say they can't use it in winter. It's great in summer though!
Choosing your chiropractic pillowOK, so how do you choose a pillow?
First, how do you sleep? If it's on your stomach, choose a down pillow, or find a store that does custom pillow fittings. Sleeping on your stomach really torques your neck and puts a lot of pressure on your spine. I try to encourage stomach sleepers to learn to sleep on their side.
If you sleep on your side, the Core type or Therapeutic type pillow is a great choice. Your spine will be aligned while giving your head a place to rest comfortably.
If you sleep on your back, the Core type or Memory Foam will give you good support without messing up the curve in your neck.
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