More bad news for insomniacs and those who burn the candle at both ends: getting too little sleep can shrink the brain, according to research published in the journal, Biological Psychiatry. To offset this unsettling finding, experts are certain that using the right pillow can change your life. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a pillow is your sleeping position. For back sleepers, the wrong pillow can leave you feeling stiff, cause chronic pain, daytime drowsiness and a host of other serious problems.
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Finding the right pillow
Even if you’re a sound sleeper, grabbing just any old pillow from those floor-to-ceiling mesh tubes at the local “we sell everything” store is still a bad idea. It would be like everyone wearing the same size shoe. Your one-of-a-kind physique coupled with your posture and sleep style makes using a one-size-fits-all pillow a threat to your physical and mental health. For back sleepers, dozing off on an extra fluffy pillow, or one that does not provide proper neck support, can leave you in pain, cause muscle spasms, bad dreams, concentration problems and headaches.
Are you a back sleeper?
Look for these characteristics in your next pillow:
- Dense and firm, but not overly fluffy
- A recessed area for your head and a ridge to support your neck.
- Memory foam pillows that conform to the natural curve of your neck.
- With a water-based pillows you can adjust the firmness yourself. They also contour to the shape of your head and neck.
image credit: All Kinds of New
About back sleepers
Sleeping on your back is not the best position out there, according to the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service. It turns out sleeping face-up can cause snoring, also known as upper airway obstructive disorder, which triggers a laundry list of problems. Sawing wood isn’t just a nuisance to your partner, it restricts breathing, reducing oxygen flow to the brain. It can also prevent you from going into REM, the deepest stage of sleep, and the period when the body reboots. Without REM sleep, you’re at risk for experiencing daytime fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
The right pillow can prevent strains, pains and fatigue
By now, you’re probably thinking you need to adopt a new sleeping position. Unfortunately, once your body drifts off to dreamland, there’s no way to control your position short of tying yourself to the bed (Note: we don’t recommend tying yourself to the bed). So instead of stressing about how you sleep and scheduling an appointment with your chiropractor, take this sound advice from James Maas, PhD, author of “Power Sleep”: use a pillow that provides proper neck support. For the back sleeper, that would be a medium firm pillow that’s not too thick. It should keep your head and neck aligned, similar to your posture when standing. Also, purchase a new pillow once in a while since they tend to wear out over time — generally at about four or five years.
Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
These best sellers are great for back sleepers.
Mediflow Waterbase Pillow
The Mediflow Waterbase Pillow is a comfortable, 100-percent cotton pillow that comes in three levels of density: soft, medium and firm. According to a Johns Hopkins University study, patients ranked the Mediflow a top pillow for reducing neck pain. People also reported improved quality sleep. One reviewer recommends this pillow for anyone who wants to thwart misalignment and neck pain.
Arc4life Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow
You know the Arc4life Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow was made for back sleepers since it was designed to help you breathe easier and reduces snoring. The V-shaped pillow provides ergonomic support. One satisfied customer has not had a stiff neck in nine months and now can’t sleep without it.
Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow
An ergonomic designer, in cooperation with a doctor of chiropractic medicine, created the Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow. The result is one of the most unique looking pillows on the market. One neck and back pain patient says the additional cervical and upper thoracic support reduces her headaches and muscles strains. A massage therapist gave this pillow two thumbs up and recommends it to all her clients.
Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow
Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow is another great pillow for back sleepers (just make sure to choose the “Gusseted Side Sleeper” size). It’s a thin, comfortable pillow which stays cool during the night. If you’re looking for a neck pillow for side and back sleepers, this pillow is worth considering.
Tri-Core Pillow is a pillow designed for side and back sleepers. It supports neck in a natural position, so you’ll be able to get a comfortable and restful sleep. It might take some time to get used to this pillow, but if you’ll decide to buy it, chances are you’ll be very happy about it once you’ve got used to it.
The average adult will spend about a third of his or her life in bed. Without the proper pillow, that could mean the remaining two-thirds of your life is spent in pain and looking for ways to reduce your discomfort, either though doctors or medications. The fact is, a good pillow can provide therapeutic relief for many of your everyday aches and pain. And several studies have shown that using a good pillow improves the quality of sleep. If not for yourself, think about your partner or spouse. A better night sleep for you means less disruptive snoring and can eliminate acrobatic tossing and turning.