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What Pillow Should I Use?

I am regularly asked by patients, “What pillow should I use?” This is a tough question to answer because our body types and postures can be so different and there is very little research available to fall back on (pardon the pun). What is known is that there are a host of waking symptoms (neck pain/stiffness, headaches, shoulder and/or arm pain) that may be eased with the use of a proper pillow.

Before you start looking for a new pillow, make sure you sleep in a position that is not going to hurt your neck or upper back. Sleep on your back or on your side but not on your stomach. Also, make sure your neck and upper back have been evaluated by a chiropractor to insure that the problems you are experiencing are not from something other than your pillow.

A pillow is a pretty personal item but I can offer general guidelines –
• In my clinical experience, the so called ‘cervical pillows’, the ones with the bump for your neck and hole for your head, are not that good and most people will discard them.
• Memory foam pillows are quite good but you need to make sure it’s the right firmness for you. I personally prefer a softer one. They can be warm.
• A good quality (read expensive), goose down, feather pillow can be quite nice
• Before you shop, decide what’s wrong with your present pillow. Is it too hard or soft? Too low or high? Is it too hot? Does it push into your neck?
• If you stay in a hotel with a comfortable pillow, ask housekeeping if you can buy one from them or where you could get one.
• Buy a pillow where they sell beds and lie on it for 15 minutes. How does it feel?
• If you think your pillow is too flat, fold a towel and put it in your pillow case under your pillow. Does that help?
• A lot of what’s sold is gimmicky. Be careful or you’ll wind up with a closet full of slightly used pillows.

As I said, pillows are quite a personal item. I hope this at least gets you started and good luck on your search..

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