What pillow should I be using, Doc? That is a question that I get all the time in my practice and here online as well. So I thought I would take a couple of minutes, give you my thoughts and my advice so the next time that you’re out shopping for a pillow, you know which one is perfect for you.
So to start, what I would suggest is this. I’m going to give you a little bit of education about what to look for, and then give you a couple of options. Number one, you can figure out what is your sleeping style, and number two that will help determine what is the best pillow for you.
So to start, the sleeping style is, in my opinion, probably the most critical for picking out from all of the pillows. Now, there’s three basic sleeping styles. There is on your back like a coffin sleeper as they call them, a side sleeper, or a person that sleeps more face down with their head tilted to the side. So based upon what type of sleeping position that you start with will really determine what pillow to pick.
So, let’s start with people that sleep face down. For those people, I recommend either using no pillow at all, or using the thinnest pillow that you can find. The reason is is because as we sleep, if we are face down and our head is tilted to a certain way, we typically see where their neck gets scrunched up if we use a thicker pillow, and that causes a lot of pain at the back of the neck, and also the suboccipital region which ultimately leads to a lot of headaches and potentially migraines. So if you are a face down sleeper, please try sleeping with no pillow or a very thin pillow.
Now, for patients that sleep on their back or on their side, really it all depends on to what I like to call a neutral spine. I have my spine right here so I’m going to show you what I mean. So, this is the typical spine of me talking to you, so if I laid you on your back, this is what I’m looking for. I want to see can we keep the spine in a neutral position, or if I put you on your side, does the pillow that you use keep your neck in a neutral position.
If you’re using a pillow that’s too thick, then typically the neck will bend up, and if you’re using a pillow that’s too thin, then the neck will bend down and you’ll wake up with neck pain here, and also the numbness and tingling that some may experience down into the hand when they use a pillow that does not provide enough support.
Now, what type of pillows do I love, and what type of pillow do I hate? Well, for my back sleepers and my side sleepers, the pillow that I actually do not like is the Tempur-Pedic-like material pillows, and the reason is this. First off, I think that Tempur-Pedic beds are great because it’s your whole bed that’s being absorbed and leveled out. Love that for the body, love that for the spine. However, when we start moving up into the cervical spine and we have a hard base and we’re putting in a Tempur-like material, what we tend to see is that the Tempur material starts to break down, and the neck gets that kind of bending effect like we talked about, and the patients typically have a lot of pain going down into the neck.
I am not a firm believer of the Tempur-Pedic-like material for side sleepers. Now I will say some back sleepers actually prefer the Tempur-Pedic material, but I would say out of 100 people that’s probably less than 10%.
So, what do I suggest for people that sleep on their back or on their side? My personal belief is right now I really like pillows that are water-based. Now, what a water-based pillow is is a pillow that’s filled with normal, like 50% down like you would like find in an everyday pillow, but the other 50% is composed of a water bladder.
Now, I’m going to show you one that I use here in my practice, and this pillow is called a Chiroflow, so I’m going to put this up here so you guys can see what it looks like, and ultimately I’m going to flip it around to the back so you can see right here what this looks like. So the top portion up here is filled with a normal pillow base, and then this portion is the water bladder.
Now, the reason that I like these water-based pillows is because you can actually fill the water bladder with the amount of water that you want, and once you put it in there, you lock it in, and it stays that way forever. So you’re not doing this back-and-forth of like, oh that pillow’s too hard, oh that pillow’s too soft, oh that doesn’t give me enough support, oh that gives me too much support.
With these water-based pillows, you literally will start with a quart of water and you lay on it and you say, does that feel good? Oh, that feels like it needs more support so I add more water. Or you say oh, it’s got too much support, so I take a little bit of water out. And once you really dial in your specific, you know, amount that you like, you turn it and you leave it, and it’s set for about six months, and that’s the next time you have to change the water our.
So, I personally like these Chiroflow pillows. Now, there’s other companies that are out there. I’ll actually probably put a few links below here, but if you have not tried a water-based pillow and you see on your side or you sleep on your back, I would highly suggest that the next pillow that you buy is one of these water-based pillows.
All right, guys, I hope that helps to answer a lot of your guys’ questions. I seriously get this probably at least two to three times a week, which pillow is right for me. So what does it really come down to? Number one, your sleeping style, and number two, how to make sure that we keep that spine in neutral position.
As always, guys, please ask questions below here on this thread, on this video. I always do my best to come back and help answer them for you guys out there. Have it, and make it a great day. Bye.