- Sleep Position – 3 Keys to Better Sleep, Part 1
- Choosing the Best Mattress – 3 Keys to Better Sleep, Part 2
- Finding the Best Pillow – 3 Keys to Better Sleep, Part 3
Sleep quality is one of the most important keys to longevity and quality of life. Getting the best pillow can make all the difference.
I am often asked by my patients about the best mattresses, the best sleep positions, the best pillows, and just about everything else involved in getting a good night’s sleep. Making a few important adjustments can have a dramatic effect on how well you sleep.
If you missed the earlier posts in this series, read part 1 about the best sleep positions and part 2 about choosing a good mattress.
Why You Need the Right Pillow for You
Choosing the best pillow for your sleep position can make or break a good night’s sleep. I sometimes feel like I am on some type of lifelong quest for the perfect pillow.
The general rule for pillows is that you want to find one that is comfortable and also keeps your spine properly aligned.
If you are a back sleeper, a very low profile pillow may be the best pillow for you. That way your head doesn’t project above your shoulders when you are sleeping. Too many people support a forward head position they’ve been practicing all day long while hunched over their computer screen with one (or sometimes more than one!) large pillow behind their head. This reverses the normal neck curve while you sleep, putting unnecessary pressure on the joints and nerves in your neck and forcing the neck muscles to fire all night instead of resting and recharging.
Choosing the Best Pillow
For back sleepers, a cervical support pillow may be the best pillow, but it must be properly sized to give the right support. A rolled up towel works pretty well for this (with or without a low profile pillow). Take a bath towel and fold in the edges until they’re about an inch apart. Then roll the towel until you get a comfortable size roll behind your neck. Leave the rest of the towel unrolled above your head. It looks strange, but it gives a great inexpensive neck support.
For side sleepers, cervical support pillows may be an unnecessary expense. Just find a pillow that keeps your head aligned with your spine. You should be able to draw a straight line that is parallel to the mattress from right between your eyes to that strange little notch at the top of your rib cage (called the sternal notch).
For stomach sleepers, change your sleep position to a more appropriate position. If you can’t or just don’t want to, the best pillow for you is probably no pillow. Get rid of your pillow altogether to alleviate some of the strain on your neck.
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There are a hundred other considerations for getting a good night’s sleep, but starting with the best sleep position, the best mattress, and the best pillow for you will definitely improve things. Most people deprive themselves of sleep at the expense of their long-term health. Take charge of this important and often ignored health habit beginning tonight!