When you lie down at night and rest your head on that fluffy pillow, you’re probably not giving much thought to your posture. After all, posture is something to think about only when you are standing in lines or sitting at your desk, right? Not true. Your sleeping alignment is just as important as your everyday posture when you are awake. In fact, your body does most of its healing when you are asleep so it is of even more importance that you have a pillow that supports you during that time.
The primary purpose of a pillow is to provide support for your neck while allowing your body to remain in a neutral position. How do you do that? There are two parts to achieving a neutral position. Take lying on your back, for example:
1) Your ears are in line with your shoulders. Imagine there is a line connecting your ears to the tops of your shoulders. Your pillow should support you in such a way that the imaginary line is parallel to your bed.
2) Your nose and chin form a straight line down towards your naval. Now picture a line that connects your nose, chin, and naval. Keep the three points aligned so your head does not turn to the side or tilt towards one shoulder.
Most of us do not sleep this way and could use a little help in creating a new sleeping alignment. A cervical pillow can be helpful in assisting with this transition. After your adjustment, the doctor places a cervical pillow under your neck. Remember how comfortable that position feels? It feels so good because the pillow is providing support under your neck while allowing the rest of your body to remain neutral (not to mention that you feel good because you were just adjusted!). This is what you should be looking for when you go to sleep at night.
When looking to purchase a cervical pillow, look for one that is filled with organic materials such as buckwheat hulls as they are allergen friendly and will not deteriorate over time. A good quality cervical pillow should last for years with proper care. Buckwheat hulls have another advantage over more common polyester filled cervical pillows because they easily form to fit each person regardless of size. This allows the pillow to provide the right amount of support under your neck.
Our office carries a cervical pillow that meets all of these standards and is just like the one our doctors use after your adjustment. We recommend that you start by using the pillow while lying on your back for 15 minutes each night before switching back to your regular pillow. This will give your body a chance to rest supported in a neutral position and begin to teach you what “normal” feels like. You may find that your regular pillow will feel too large after using a cervical pillow consistently.
In addition to using a cervical pillow while sleeping or resting on your back, they can also be used while traveling. On an airplane they are great for support behind your neck or lower back. Use them during your savasana after an intense yoga practice. If you sleep on your side, use the pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned. Warm them briefly in the microwave or cool them for 15 minutes in the freezer for extra relaxation.
For more information about posture and how it plays a crucial part in your health, attend our workshop on Tues, May 3 at 6:00 pm: Posture to Look & Feel Good.