Best resting posture for sleep involves maintaining the head and spine in neutral. When in the supine (horizontal) posture, neutral positioning of the spine is achieved when the ears are in …
Best resting posture for sleep involves maintaining the head and spine in neutral. When in the supine (horizontal) posture, neutral positioning of the spine is achieved when the ears are in line with the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Therefore, it is NOT recommended for one to place only the head and neck on the pillow. To maintain neutrality of the head with the spine, it IS recommended to move the pillow down so that the shoulder blades are also on the pillow with the head and neck….”The magic pillow for sleep.”
Proper placement of the pillow where the shoulder blades are supported on the pillow with the neck and head is the Single Most Important Factor in achieving prolonged comfortable sleep. This type of pillow placement and use insures healthy spine positioning during sleep and greatly lowers the probability of waking up with “a stiff neck.”
Selection of the firmness, shape and fabric, etc. is more of a personal choice. As long as the spine is kept in neutral, these other factors are less important. A cool temperature for the head and neck is recommended for facilitating relaxation. Material such as cotton transfers air well and maintains relative coolness of the head and neck, is generally recommended to contact the skin directly.
Therefore, the “The Magic Pillow for Sleep” is truly more a personal preference and almost solely dependent on how the pillow is positioned. ‘The magic pillow” supports the head, neck, and shoulder blades while laying on your back (supine), keeping your spine in neutral.
However, the majority of people sleep on their side. The principle of maintaining a neutral spine is also applied to the side lying position. The ears, shoulders, and hips are maintained in a straight line with the pillow wide enough to fill the distance between the head and mattress, maintaining the head and spine in neutral. Don’t “curl up” or tuck the chin to the chest. The left side is the preferred side to lay on for improved cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function i.e. minimizes esophageal reflux.
About Dr. L’Europa: In 35th year of practice. Clinic director of Spine Tech a leader in multidisciplinary standard of care of spine and musculoskeletal disorders.
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