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Pillow Talk

What's the best pillow? The answer isn't what you think...

You go to bed at night and everything is feeling great only to wake up the next morning with a locked up painful neck.

How does this happen?

It's actually a strange phenomenon but one that almost everyone has experienced. It really doesn't make much sense that you can go to bed feeling fine and somehow in the middle of the night you experience some sort of nocturnal whiplash.

Is it your pillow?

The answer is probably. A pillow can make all the difference in the world both in a good way and bad. But the question I get almost daily is, 'what's the best type of pillow?'.

The answer is that it depends on you. We have to start with a couple questions first.

#1 - Do you sleep on your back, side, or stomach?

Typically, if you sleep on your back you want a smaller pillow that provides support but one that doesn't crank your head forward. The memory foam type pillows are usually best for back sleepers. If you sleep on your side, you typically want a larger pillow to support your head and neck but not allow it to bend much side to side.

If you sleep on your stomach you need to stop! You are asking for trouble.

#2 - Do you sleep with a fan on you or by an open window?

For whatever reason, having a breeze on you while sleeping can make your neck lock up during the night. Strange but true.

#3 - How old is your pillow?

Just because your pillow has been good for years doesn't mean it's good now. You probably want to replace your pillow periodically to ensure proper support. I think it's a good idea when you find a pillow you like to buy a couple of them. You never know if that pillow will still be available later.

#4 - Is your neck a train wreck that you've been neglecting for years?

If you find that you are waking up with a stiff painful neck for no apparent reason more that once or twice a year, it's a good idea to get your neck checked out by a professional.

In closing, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for the pillow question. Some people need to try a few different types before they find the right one.

Dr. Hanson

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