Guide to Choosing Your Proper Pillow

Pillows plays a bigger role in our sleep than we think. But with so many choices out there, it’s difficult to make the right choice. And seeing as you’ll spend about one third or your life sleeping, it’s a choice worth pondering over.

A pillow that doesn’t fit your properly or doesn’t provide enough support may lead to discomfort while sleeping or waking up in pain. It’s would be far more beneficial for you to wake up refreshed and energized for your day. And to do that we need to find a pillow that’s not only comfortable for you to sleep on but also provides the proper support to your neck structures.

Three criteria that you must consider:

First, you must consider the size of the pillow. Basically, if you have broader shoulder, than you’d need a thicker pillow to support you properly.

Second, consider the material that the pillow is made out of. If you have allergies, than it would be wise to go with a hypoallergenic. Pillows can be made from many different materials so be sure to check the details on the packaging to ensure that it’s what you’re looking for. Also, be sure to wash your pillow cover regularly. They must be replaced every year or two on average, but this depends on the quality of the material.

Third, look at your sleeping position. There are 3 types: back, side or stomach.

  • Back: you’ll need a pillow with medium thickness and a bump (called “cervical pillow”). Make sure that it holds your head in a neutral position
  • Side: You’ll need a pillow that more firm. Depending on the width of your shoulders you’ll want to pick the size of your pillow accordingly. Ideally, you want your nose in line with the centre of your neck when sleeping on your side.
  • Stomach: You’ll want a pillow that’s soft and flat. Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal in the long-term as it can lead to more spinal issues. Talk to one of our structural chiropractor for advice around this.

Extra pillows:

A second pillow may be sued for side sleepers as it can be placed between the legs to keep the pelvis alignment in neutral throughout the night. A second pillow is also a good idea for stomach sleepers to hug so that they avoid turning onto their stomachs. If you’re suffering from low back pain and you sleep on your back, try placing it underneath your knees to take a bit of pressure off.

Now you’re equipped with the knowledge to go out there and make an informed decision about the pillow you sleep on. Not only will it help you achieve a good night’s sleep, it may also prevent or reduce neck pain, back pain, headaches and, in certain cases, snoring. Sleep soundly!

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Best Pillow For Neck Pain | There are more options to choose… | Flickr

Why Your Sleeping Position Matters

Sleeping

You spend roughly a third of your life in bed sleeping, or at least trying to sleep. Doing one activity for as long as 8 hours can impact your spinal structure so it is worth considering how to best go about setting up your sleep position.

Sleep is a vital time in which our brain and our body slows down enough to repair and recharge. If you have ever had periods of too little sleep you may have experienced that gross heavy feeling in your brain.

You know that feeling you get in your muscles after a hard workout or the feeling in your calves and legs after a long run? That is essentially waste products building up in the muscles from the high level of activity. Although the brain is not a muscle it is very active and requires a lot of your body’s resources to run during the day. When we sleep it is a chance for the brain to wind down and recharge so to speak, and until recently we didn’t know how the brain cleared waste products, they assumed that there was no lymphatic drainage.

Sleeping’s effects

Scientists have recently discovered what they call the glymphatic pathway, which is the drainage pathway of waste products from your brain and it is most active during sleep. Degenerative conditions of the brain like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia links with build up of waste products, which is why it is vital to get 7-9 hours sleep.

The other interesting discovery is that this pathway appears to be most active when sleeping on your side. Well, to be fair the study was done on rodents and not humans however the researches did speculate that this may also be true in humans considering that the natural resting and sleep position in most mammals is the side position.

Obviously when you are asleep it is rather difficult to monitor your sleep position since, well, you are asleep. But setting up right means you will spend at least some time in the optimal side sleeping posture. Make sure you have a pillow that supports your head and neck in the side position. Think Goldilocks, not too high a pillow, not too low a pillow, just right. I also like to sleep with a pillow between the knees to support to hips and lower back. Having a pillow behind your back may also provide extra support and stop you rolling onto your back while you sleep.

Hedok Lee, Lulu Xie, Mei Yu, Hongyi Kang, Tian Feng, Rashid Deane, Jean Logan, Maiken Nedergaard, and Helene Benveniste. The Effect of Body Posture on Brain Glymphatic TransportJournal of Neuroscience, July 2015 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1625-15.2015

 

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This blog is sponsored by Little Ninja & Priorityfitness

File:Sleeping Positions for Back Pain.png - Wikimedia Commons

How To Reduce/Avoid Jet Lag

When flying for long hours (even just 3 hours), we can start to experience certain symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, confusion or just feeling zombie-like.

What is it?

This is called jet lag. It’s what happens when the part of your brain called the hypothalamus (centre that controls sleep cycles, appetite and temperature) is conflicted with its “inner time” and your new “outer time”. Further symptoms may include insomnia, GI problems, joint and muscle pain and stiffness, and reduced fitness.

A New Zealand survey from 1994 of international flight attendants found that, despite being used to long air travel, 90% had fatigue over the first 5 days of arrival, 94% had lack of energy/motivation, 93% had broken sleep and 70% had ear, nose or throat issues.

Scientists have estimated that it takes 1 full day to recover for every hour of time difference. Which means that if you took a flight from New Zealand to Singapore, it would take about 4 days before you feel right.

The direction you travel can affect how intense the symptoms are since it’s easier for our bodies to delay our “inner time” than to speed it up. Travelling east is more difficult on the body compared to travelling west.

 

So how do you manage it?

 

  1. Plan it out

    -You should expect symptoms to take place after long-haul flights and so you should always plant accordingly. If you have a meeting on Thursday morning, consider arriving 1-2 days in advance instead of getting there Wednesday night and possibly having to struggle through it.

  2. Nutrition

    -There is a fasting protocol that can minimize jet lag symptoms. It’s called the Argonne fasting diet. However, it is a little intense, so below is a modified version that you can try if you’re interested.

    -On the day of travel, eat normal meals leading up to your flight, then fast immediately before and during your flight while hydrating by drinking plenty of water. Eat soon after landing as close to local meal time as possible. Time your fast 14-24 hours before your next planned meal in your new time zone. Then have your normal eating schedule based on local time.

  3.  Exercise

    -Most preferably outdoors since it affects your circadian rhythm and improves mood. Light is the most powerful signal for our internal biological clocks, so it can help reduce jet lag.

    -It’s helpful to train at the same time you’d train at home. So if you normally workout at 9 am at home and you travel to London, try your best to train at 9 am London time and do it outside. This helps your muscles and tissues adapt to the new time zone.

    -If you’re feeling exhausted then a high intensity cardio workout might not be in the cards… but a light bodyweight workout or some stretching is definitely helpful. Do what you can, at your usual time, and again, preferably OUTSIDE.

  4.  Supplements

    a)Melatonin is a hormone in your body that helps control its circadian rhythm, which plays a role in when we sleep and wake up. Melatonin is dependent on the amount of light you’re exposed to. When there’s light, melatonin release is stopped. When it’s dark, melatonin release is stimulated.
    -The time you take it is important. Do NOT take melatonin before leaving for a trip or it will make the jet lag worse. Wait until you land in the new time zone to supplement 1 hour before normal bedtime at your new location. Continue for 3 nights or until you’ve adjusted.

    b)Pycnogenol has been studied for its effect of reducing jet lag symptoms. It reduces cerebral and joint edema or swelling, which leads to less short-term memory problems, fatigue problems, and cardiac issues. It has also shown to decrease deep vein thrombosis and superficial vein thrombosis, which are both common side effects of long flights.
    -Take it for 3 times a day for up to 5 days (max 7 days) after landing.

Our human bodies haven’t fully adapted to travelling long distances by air… and they probably never will. So jet lag remains a part of life if you’re exposing yourself to this kind of travel. Fortunately, with proper planning and preparation, you can reduce its effects and even prevent it from happening!

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Contact Revolution Chiropractic – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

To Schedule your FREE CONSULTATION at Revolution Chiropractic E-mail or Call us on 09 418 3718.  

You can also book online here !


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Jet Lag Exhaustion | julie corsi | Flickr