I don’t like history. Just not really my thing, but I do enjoy finding out how random things got to be so common place in our lives. For example, I once read a book about the evolution of the chair. It was fascinating.
According to Wikipedia, a pillow is a cushion support for the head or other parts of the body, usually used while sleeping on a bed, or for the body as used on a couch or chair. The word pillow didn’t appear in our language until the 12th century.
The pillow was often utilized more for comfort than for anything else. The first people to use pillows were the early Mesopotamia civilizations around 7,000 BC. During this time only the wealthy and fortunate people of the world used them. Pillows were a status symbol and were reserved for mostly the upper class.
Henry VIII, king of England, actually banned the use of pillows for anyone except pregnant women. During that time men didn’t tend to use pillows because it was a sign of weakness.
After the Industrial Revolution hit, pillows were mass-produced by textile companies throughout the United States and Europe. Pillows are now everywhere in varying shapes, styles, softness and costs.
In my research, I was looking for the main benefits of a pillow, and the unanimous answer was comfort for tired and achy bodies. However, does a pillow really provide comfort to the body?
Notice how this pillow cause my chin to drop toward my chest which closes off and restricts blood flow to my thyroid. (Side note: thyroid cancer runs in my family, so this is the LAST thing I want happening to the thyroid.)
When sleeping on a pillow, it moves the body out of alignment by displacing the alignment of the neck/head with the rest of the spine.
One of my favorite blogs about pillows comes from Katy Bowman, Your Pillow is an Orthotic. I was drawn to this blog post for many reasons. One, I was prescribed orthotics for falling arches in my feet over 15 years ago. However, as I learned how to exercise my feet and arches I have not had to wear orthotics for over 13 years. Secondly, since I have had neck issues for the last ten years, I’m always on a search for something that will minimize my neck and shoulder discomfort. Surprisingly, after ditching my pillow two years ago, my neck and shoulders are feeling great.
If you are ready to ditch your pillow, don’t do so right away. Ditching your pillow would be like signing up for a marathon in two weeks when you haven’t run in the last ten years. Your body needs to adapt to no longer using a pillow. Here are some suggestions for ditching your pillow:
1. Start by folding a towel to almost the same height as your current pillow. After a few weeks, reduce the height of the towels by unfolding some of it.
2. Keep reducing the height of your towel until you don’t need a towel anymore.
3. As you reduce your pillow, make sure that your neck is in alignment. When lying on your back, you don’t want your chin to be reaching up towards the ceiling, putting a large curve into the back of your neck. (I still sleep on a hand towel folded in half because I need that little lift to keep my chin from pointing upward.)
Note: for several months I slept with a towel rolled up under my neck to bring the natural curve back into my neck. This is another option for you. Experiment a little.
4. Work on neck/shoulder stretches as you decrease the height of your towel–this is key!
Check out this video blog for some ideas to loosen up your shoulders/neck. (I know, the heading says “Heart Opener for Pre-/Post-Natal Women” but the exercises are good for anyone, even MEN.)
If you still aren’t convinced to ditch your pillow, maybe one of these benefits will intrigue you.
1. Prevent wrinkles on your face
2. Prevent neck pain
3. Profits the spine
4. Improves quality of sleep