Many of us focus on the immediacy of relief, whether we’re battling our chronic pain with a visit to our chiropractor or a prescribed painkiller from our primary care physician. And studies repeatedly prove the majority of those seeking chiropractic care do receive a degree of relief from their very first adjustment.
But it doesn’t stop there. Realizing the full benefit of our chiropractor’s hands-on care depends on how we follow up on our treatments. Are we eating the foods that will fight inflammation? Do we follow the new 20-20-20 rule, standing up every 20 minutes and walking at least 20 feet for 20 seconds? And, most importantly, are we getting enough sleep?
Our bodies heal themselves while we sleep, when they’re not dealing with the stresses of everyday activity. But often, stress, depression and, emotional distress keep us awake at night or, sometimes worse, wake us in the middle of the night and won’t let us fall back asleep.
Fortunately, chiropractic care, by developing a stronger connection with our body’s nervous system, helps us sleep better and longer. With the right bedding, we can also use the time to train our spines to stay in a healthy position.
How, you ask? Let’s talk pillows.
They’re not just for giving your head a smooth landing anymore. Pillows come in an array of shapes, sizes, and densities, all to support different parts of your body. Here are a few that you might want to consider:
• Do you sleep on your side? Consider a knee pillow, which fits right under your top leg. The firmness of the pillow keeps the leg from pulling the pelvis down leading to misalignment of the spine. If you sleep on your back, you can put the pillow under your knees. The slight elevation helps the spine lie flat against the mattress.
• A few hotel chains now include body pillows in their bedding, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll wonder how you went so long without one. Again, it works best with those who sleep on their side, providing a long buffer from the neck to the knees. By leaning into it with your abdomen – pregnant women, take note – it helps keep your spine in line throughout the night.
• Finally, for the traveler and for those who find themselves dangling between the bed pillow and the mattress, there’s the neck pillow. Again, it can come in different shapes; you’ve probably seen people use the semi-circle one on airplanes. It provides support for the cervical and upper spine area.
What about your standard bed pillows? If they’re working for you, keep using them. They’ll let you know when it’s time for a replacement. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night to punch them back into shape, that’s when you might consider trying a memory foam option.
In the meantime, sweet dreams!