As our series continues, we’ll delve deeper into proper sleep positions and product recommendations, which also play a significant role in getting a good night's sleep. We offer the best sleep recommendations to our patients as part of my daily conversation in my office. It is essential if you are recovering from a back or neck injury.
There are two positions I suggest and one I strongly advise against. I recommend side or back sleeping, but there is more to these positions than just laying on your side or back. Side sleeping Position: this one is my favorite and highly recommended if you’re pregnant, have cardiovascular issues, or have stomach issues.
To get the best rest, selecting the proper pillow is essential. You want to choose a pillow that gives you adequate support in the side-laying position. Support comes in the form of using a pillow with the correct thickness. You want a pillow thick enough to go from the edge of your outside shoulder to the side of your neck. This will ensure your neck is in a neutral position. Too thick or too thin of a pillow will have your neck bent/ kinked in the wrong position, causing muscle strain and subluxations.
You also want, at minimum, a pillow between your knees. It doesn’t have to be thick, maybe about 3-4 inches wide. We all have that natural leg gap that, when lying on the side, causes legs to get pushed together by gravity, thus improperly putting the sacroiliac joints in our lower back region and causing lower back injury. It also stresses out the muscles of this region, which can lead to strain and spasms.
I recommend a long/body pillow; it works great to support the knees but will keep the upper body and shoulder region in proper alignment by hugging it while you sleep. This also helps your top hold the side laying position and decreases the urge to roll to a half stomach half side position, which is unsuitable for your spine.
The other position I recommend is on your back. But not flat on your back. To give your spine proper support, you must put a pillow under both knees, one at least 4-6 inches thick. This will allow your lumbar spine to be correctly supported while in this position. I also recommend a pillow for the neck that supports our natural lordotic curvature. These pillows will often be small and rounder/tube-shaped, like the travel pillows you see at the airports. You don’t want your head being propped up; this will do just the opposite, and instead of supporting your natural neck curve, it will make it worse.
The pillow I use and personally recommend is the D core pillow by Coreproducts. It is a fiber-filled pillow that gives long-lasting support for the neck. It is also very versatile for multiple-size necks and firmness preferences. This Pillow is like an orthotic for the neck to help restore and maintain its natural curve, so this pillow has a learning curve. It can take a week or 2 to break it in, but you will love this pillow once you do.
From my experience, I do not recommend using memory foam pillows. They are not very supportive, and the foam keeps giving and sinking, not giving the neck the needed support. Remember that pillows should be replaced every six months to one year at the latest. Like shoes, the materials break down over constant repetitive use and are less supportive after long-term use.
Now it’s time to discuss what you sleep on. Mattresses: I love memory foam mattresses. I have one that I have been pleased with. You want to find one you can feel supported in, not too soft but firm. I would read reviews and find a company with a good trial return/exchange program so you are not stuck with a mattress you don’t like; it can take a good month to decide if a bed is right for you.
There are also toppers you can add to your memory foam to make it softer or firmer and cooler. Memory foam mattresses are known for being hot, especially if you’re a hot sleeper. This can be a deal breaker.
Other Mattress types I like are the Sleep number type beds. These are Ideal for couples that have different sleep preferences as far as firmness goes. With an adjustable style bed, these beds can get so high-tech that you can even control the temperature and elevation of the upper back and feet.
We hope you enjoyed our series on sleep. Remember, better sleep equals better health. Implementing the recommendations of chiropractors can help you achieve better sleep quality. If you have sleep issues, talk to your chiropractor. They can help you obtain the proper diagnosis and suggest treatments for your specific needs. Start implementing these sleep recommendations today and see how they impact your sleep quality.