The earliest pillows were made about 9,000 years ago. They were made out of stone! That’s a very far departure from our fluffy goose feather pillows.
Some of these stone pillows were made specifically to invite good dreams and keep demons away. Others were created to prevent bugs from crawling into the sleepers mouth and ears.
While most of the Japanese wooden pillows were designed to keep their perfectly manicured hair in place. You see, “bed head” wasn’t actually a hairstyle back in ancient Japan.
In England King Henry the 8th banned the use of pillows, the fluffy kind, saying they were for the weak. Only pregnant women were allowed to use them. So then next time you want to prove how tough you are, sleep without a pillow.
The kind of pillows that we are familiar with are in fact very recent items. They were mass-produced only in 1897 with the industrial revolution. They are so common now it’s hard to think of a time when people didn’t use pillows.
Today the markets are awash with different kinds of pillows, hard, soft, synthetic, contoured. Some pillows designed to for back sleepers, others for tummy and side sleepers.
Speaking of which. What sort of a sleeper are you?
Did you know that your sleeping position can have a very big effect on your body? There are so many aspects to sleeping that it could take a few articles to cover.
For example, did you know that sleeping on your left side after a meal is better than sleeping on the right or any other position? This is because the stomach is shaped in a way that prevents the food from being regurgitated with you lie on the left side. The entrance to the stomach or the lower esophageal sphincter is not pressed by the food you have just eaten.
The body at rest needs as much blood flow as possible, this help with healing and maintenance.
Most people feel sleeping on your back is good for you. However, sleeping on your back creates an artificially elevated head position, making it more difficult for blood to get pumped. To add insult to injury the jaw slides back and restricts the airways, making it harder to oxygenate the blood.
While side and tummy sleepers have lower back pain and find their arms go numb at night.
So has all this confused the heck out of you? How can something as simple as sleeping be so complicated? We see our pets doing it all the time! Sometimes they sleep in their side, other times on their tummy.
Unfortunately, we really do not know our natural sleeping positions as humans. Our bodies appear to have adapted and changed over the years.
What we can do now is identify the best way to sleep through a night. According to the Alexander technique, which is a body awareness and movement practice. The best way to sleep is on the side.
However with the help of many pillows.
Let me explain. We sleep on a flatbed, however, none of our body parts are flat. There will always be an imbalance. Eg. When sleeping on our back our pelvis tilts backward. Causing what is called a posterior pelvic tile.
Now if you spend one night like this, not a problem. But if you spend 8 hours every night in the same position. It is going to cause an issue. This is called a repetitive stress injury.
The same thing happens if we sleep on our stomach. In order to make our body flat, we have to turn our heads to one side. If you don’t move your neck left and right at night, you get an imbalance between the muscles.
So then the best way to sleep at night is to sleep on your left side, prop your head up with as many pillows as needed to make sure the neck is parallel to the bed and your shoulder isn’t squished. It should have enough space. If like me you have wide shoulder you will need two big pillows.
Next a pillow that you can cuddle and prevent your body from collapsing forward. The pillow props your chest up and the free arm rests gently on it.
The last pillow you will need is kept between your knees. This pillow is needed so that your legs don’t cause your pelvis to lean in the front. The idea is to keep it in a straight line.
Some put a very small short pillow under their waist as well. This helps with backaches. Do this if your bed is hard.
The whole objective of this sleeping method is to make sure your body is straight and doesn’t have any imbalances over a period of time.
I remember the first week after using this method. I was pain free!
So your simple habit is to get yourself enough pillows to be able to lie down with a body position that is aligned.
It will take a little bit of awareness as you sleep each night. Don’t worry about that. What’s important is to wake up fresh and pain free.