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- Self-Help for Sleep Issues & Sleeplessness
Proper Pillow Placement for Any Sleeping Position
Sleep is one of the most elemental of human needs. Good sleep refreshes and rejuvanates the body and soul; bad sleep can make for a miserable day, week, month, or even year!*
Getting enough sleep can be difficult, and it certainly doesn't help if you can't seem to find a comfortable position. When you wake up in the morning with a cramp, what are the first words out of your mouth? "I must have slept wrong." Avoid tossing and turning (and prevent cricks in the neck!) by using proper pillow placement to align the spine and muscles for optimal relaxation.
*Trivia: There is a family in Italy for whom insomnia runs in the genetics. Upon reaching adulthood, carriers of the gene gradually get less and less rest, in spite of all attempts at treatment, until they eventually pass away from sleep deprivation.
Pillow Placement for Good Sleep
Did your parents ever tell you to "stand up straight?" As it turns out, they were giving you bad advice. The spine, when in proper alignment, possesses a natural S-curve, which pillows should support during sleep, so that your muscles don't have to. Misalignment causes your muscles to seize up, causing the cramps that wake you up in the middle of the night or the sore shoulder that bothers you for days after a bad sleep.
Proper pillow placement varies for different sleeping positions, but the principles are the same. Your body is probably used to sleeping one way, but you may want to try all the positions anyway, as pillow placement can make quite a change. It may feel unnatural at first, but when your body adjusts, it will end up thanking you.
Pillow Placement for Stomach Sleepers
You've heard that stomach sleepers shouldn't use a pillow, or worse, that you should never sleep on your stomach at all. The fact is, sleeping face down is a natural human instinct, and with proper pillow placement, there is nothing wrong with it at all.
Place a pillow under the hips to take stress off of your lower back and neck. If you have a hard mattress, or otherwise find it too uncomfortable not to have cushioning for your face, try shifting the other pillow from your hips to under your ankles.
Pillow Placement for Side Sleepers
Sleeping on your side comes highly recommended by chiropractors, and, if you snore, your spouse as well. Also called the fetal position, this is the position God or Nature chose for us for the duration of our 9-month stay in the womb.
Place one or two pillows under the head and neck, depending on their thickness, to ensure that your cervical spine (see first illustration) is straight and elongated. An extra pillow between the knees opens your hips and prevents knees from knocking together or legs from chafing.
Another option is to buy a body pillow, which provides a "partner" to throw your limbs over... and best of all, it doesn't move just when you're getting comfortable.
Pillow Placement for Back Sleepers
Sleeping on your back opens the lungs... and, unfortunately, can sometimes result in the worst snoring, for those prone to it. If you're not one of those (or if you sleep alone), put a pillow under the head, and another under the knees to relieve pressure on the lower back.
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