We all desire to sleep comfortably. Many, in search of “nighttime nirvana”, have purchased pillow after pillow, chasing the seeming elusive dream of finally getting a good night’s sleep.
As a physical therapist who specializes in the spine, I am often asked “Which pillow is the best one for me to sleep with?” I always begin my answer the same way: “That is like asking me which shoes will fit you the best.” You see, just as people have uniquely shaped feet, pressure sensitivities, and walking styles, you and I have differ in our shoulder width, sleep position, the weight of our heads, and even our “pillow texture” preferences.
The advice I do offer is one of principles—specifically what you head should look like, alignment-wise, when you rest it atop your chosen pillow. These concepts are important, not only in achieving comfort, but also in protecting the discs and joints of the neck. I have included this detailed teaching (complete with “Do” and “Don’t” photos) in three of my six books—that’s just how critical I believe this information is!
For those of you who sleep on your side, the principle is that the bridge of your nose needs to be lined up with your breastbone. If it is tilted up or down, upon too high or too low a pillow, respectively, your neck structures will be set up for trouble.
If you sleep on your back, you need to support only your head on the pillow (not your shoulders). Also, you need just enough height in your pillow to support your head so that it’s positioned squarely over your shoulders—just as it is when you are standing. If your head is bent forward or backward relative to your trunk, your pillow(s) is too high or too low, respectively.
Finally, if you are a stomach sleeper, is a harmful habit that you must quit cold-turkey. Reference the Free Resources page of my website for the article, Sleeping Postures that Ease Discomfort, and discover my recommended “pseudo stomach sleeping” position.
Sweet dreams, my friend!