Choosing the Best Pillow

Choosing the best pillow can be a tricky thing to do after all, there are so many options out there.  Should I get a soft pillow or a firm one?  Thick or thin? Water based or foam? No wonder this is a pretty common question we get in the office.  While there is no single pillow that is best for everyone, here are some basic things to keep in mind:

  • You’re going to be spending a lot of time using it, so it just makes sense to invest in one that is going to give you the most support for your neck, spine and nerves – choosing the wrong type can be a real pain in the neck (literally!)
  • If it has lost its original shape, become flat or lumpy or you have used it for over 18 months, its likely ready to be replaced.
  • For back and stomach sleepers: Choose a low-to-medium thickness pillow so that your head is closer to the mattress. This will keep it in better alignment over night and lessen the chances of neck pain and restless sleep.  (Sleeping on your back is generally better for your spine)
  • For side sleepers: Choose a medium-to-high thickness pillow. Firmer pillows are better as this will keep your head aligned over your shoulders over night.  You can also add a small, soft pillow between your knees (especially if you have low back pain) and this will better align your hips/pelvis with your spine.
  • If you are all over the mattress when you sleep, choose a softer, medium thickness pillow.
  • Synthetic pillows are lightweight, affordable and easy to travel with. They can flatten quickly and tend to have a shorter lifespan.
  • Feather or down pillows tend to be softer, have a good lifespan and are easy to shape (not good for side sleepers).
  • Water pillows are able to be customized to the user so you can determine what thickness and firmness is best for you. They are heavier and can make noise when the water is swishing around.

Keeping your head and neck neutral and comfortable at night will not only result in a better night’s sleep, allowing you to feel more rested and energetic the next day, but also help to hold your alignment after an adjustment, keeping you and your nervous system at its best.

Dr. Andrew