Magnificent Seven: Sleep Right – Proper Pillow

Yesterday we talked of proper mattresses for sleeping right, so it’s only fitting to talk about pillows as well.  I don’t know how you are, but I need my pillow for a good night’s sleep.  When I travel, my pillow travels with me.  My pillow of choice?  Tempur-Pedic.  That is the pillow that both my wife and I have used for years and we love them.

When looking for a pillow there are couple of things to consider.  First, are you primarily a back or side-sleeper?  There are some pillows designed “specifically” for you and after a trial you may find that you really like some of these custom pillows.  The important thing is to remember the natural curvature of your neck and choose a pillow that will support your spine.  When lying on your back the pillow should not be so high as to tuck your chin to your chest, nor should it be so low that is provides no support.

When side-sleeping the pillow should provide enough support to keep your head from tipping too far to the side.  This will cause you wake up with that familiar “kink in my neck” and be a bad way to start your day.


When switching over to a new pillow it sometimes takes a little while to grow accustomed to the pillow.  Most reputable manufacturers offer some trial period to ensure you will appreciate the investment you have made in your pillow.  I tell my patients to keep their usual pillow nearby so that if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to go back to it, they can.

If you suffer with joint pain, muscle pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia then you should purchase a body pillow.  This will be one of the greatest, and one of the least expensive, investments you can make in your sleep improvement goals.  A body pillow helps to unload your musculoskeletal system when used properly.

For side sleepers you should place the body pillow between your knees with your top arm placed over the pillow.  This provides comfort and support for your spine and extremities.  For back sleepers you should roll slightly onto your side and use the body pillow under the length of your body for support.  If you have suffer with shoulder pain that is worse with side-sleeping then use the body pillow with your bad shoulder up and your good shoulder against the mattress.  By setting yourself propped on the pillow you will help to unload the pressure on your muscles giving you a more restful, pain-free sleep.

By combining the right pillow for your needs with the proper mattress for overall body support, you are well on your way to experiencing the restorative sleep that is vital each night to maintain health and prevent disease.

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