About two months ago I began getting stiff and sore necks as I woke up. This was not a problem that arose every morning, but was often enough to question what the heck was going on. Eventually I went to the chiropractor and found out that one of the disks in my neck was out of line. Read my previous post, Chiropractics: A Life Adjustment, and check out all the fun I went though. As the exact cause of my misaligned neck was not known, my sleeping positions and pillows at home are two prime culprits. At the time I was sleeping on my stomach, mainly, which is the worst sleeping position. I was told to immediately stop doing this and to flip onto my back for sleeping. With the pillows I had, along with many other pillows out there, while sleeping on my stomach, my neck was being either pushed up or slumping down and twisted to the side. In relation to the position of where my misaligned disk was, the C7 (just above the shirt-line), it made sense that this might be my reason for stiff necks.
The only two healthy methods to sleep is either on our backs or our sides. I will not even bring up the stomach sleeping, as many chiropractors think very poorly of it, and it would require some magical pillow that I’ve never seen before. Here are some suggestions to finding the right pillow, depending on the type of sleeper you are…
- Side Sleepers: Find a pillow that is supportive enough to fill the space between your shoulder and head. The goal is to find a pillow that will fill that gap without allowing the head to slump down or be pushed up. You need to keep that neck perfectly straight throughout the night!
- Back Sleepers: One of those memory foam, or slightly rounded-shaped pillows might be best for you. For this sleeping style, you want a pillow that isn’t as stiff as one you would use for sleeping on your side. Find a medium firmness pillow that is just high enough to keep the neck aligned without pushing the neck too high. Still, keep that neck straight! A plus with the shaped pillows is that there is sometimes a curve for the lower neck to fit in to. This is helpful because it lifts the lower neck enough to allow the spine to hold its natural curve.
Choosing the correct firmness, shape, and all of that might take some work. It’s worth shopping around for and taking the time to rest your head on pillow after pillow in the store. You might look a little funny testing all pillows, but it’s definitely worth spending the extra time. I purchased a memory foam pillow for my back sleeping and a thicker pillow for my side sleeping; ever since then I have not have any neck pains in the morning. So, don’t settle for that old pillow on the bed anymore, go take care of yourself!