Best Pillow Buyers Guide For Better Sleep | Dr. Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor near Yonge and Bloor |
The Best Pillow Buyers Guide by Dr Alex Ritza will help you find your next pillow and ensure that you love it and use it properly. Discussing everything from fit, to material to FAQs, Dr Ritza's recommendations will ensure that you find a pillow that you love in downtown Toronto or beyond.
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Best Pillow Buyers Guide For Better Sleep

Best Pillow Buyers Guide For Better Sleep

How to Find, Use, And Love Your New Pillow | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor What else in your possession do you have direct contact with for (hopefully) 1/3 of your day and eventually 1/3 of your life. Other than your home, there is nothing in most of our lives that we use as much as our pillow and our bed. And if you love your pillow, that is great!

But I want to help you find one that you love more. If you are a person who hates your pillow, you are going to want to read on.

A good pillow and mattress is a requirement for getting a great night’s sleep and is integral to success tomorrow.  Whether crashing on your friend’s couch, camping on an air mattress, or enduring a bad hotel bed, we have all experienced the repercussions of a poor night’s sleep that could have been avoided if you had the support that you need.

Now, if this is a regular event that causes you discomfort during or after sleep in your own home, it is time to make a change. You should never regularly wake up sore, with a headache or back pain,  or otherwise uncomfortable.

Having a pillow that you love and encourages you to get the best possible sleep is so important.  This guide is going to teach you how to find a pillow that you love, that is specific to your body type, how to use it, and make you genuinely excited to hit your pillow at the end of your day

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor Do I Really Need A New Pillow

In most cases the answer is likely a “Yes” unless you have recently purchased one and it was properly fit for you. If any of these points below sound familiar than it might be time for a new one:

    • You have had your current one for >3-5 years
    • You wake up with headaches, jaw tightness, neck pain or stiffness, numbness or tingling into the upper limbs
    • You place your arm or hand underneath your head  /pillow when you sleep on your side (you do this because your pillow is not supportive enough and your body is wanting to compensate)
    • You sleep on your stomach (stop doing this please !)
    • Your wake up feeling unrested regularly
    • Your pillow was not sized specifically to you
    • You are not in love with the one you have right now!


I Can’t Find A Comfortable Pillow and I’ve Tried Them All

If this is the case than the problem IS NOT your pillow. What is more likely is that your neck is the problem and it is so irritated and posturaly distorted that the combination of a sustained posture and pressure results in further irritation of the neck muscles and joints. This is an obvious symptom to a chiropractor that your neck is in dyer need of a check and proper assessment

Learn more about neck pain and what what can be done about it here

Take away #1 – If nothing feels good, it is likely your neck that is the problem

Pillow or Car: What Do You Use More?

We can easily think of spending months and months of diligent research on the next house we are going to live in, or the next car or bike we are going to take to work. People buy magazines, read consumer reports and pay a great deal of money to a trusted person to make sure they make a choice that is right for them. Why do we not act in the same manner when we are going to buy a mattress and pillow, which is going to be used as much as anything else in our lives.

We can’t sleep well if we have a bad pillow. If we do not sleep well, we can’t perform at our best.

Take away #2- Do the research, make an investment in your health and performance by buying a good quality pillow.

Odds are that if you are reading this, you want to sleep a little better?

Click below to be sent our “ONE HABIT THAT IS RUINING YOUR SLEEP GUIDE”  that we think will make a big difference to your sleep, energy and health



 Where Do I Go To Buy A New Pillow?

I recently was on a mission to buy a new road bike. I did a lot of research, and found one that I was in love with based on how it looked and was reviewed. I was ready to buy it, and then I test drove it. It looked good on paper, was a good deal, but it was not the right fit for me

Pillows are the same. You can read reviews and take recommendations but your pillow is a personal thing that has to fit your body and must be experienced before you buy it.

Take away #3 – Try it before you buy it

Go to a department store like Sears, The Brick, The Bay, or a specialty store like Sleep Country, Essentia, Ikea, Hastens, or  Bed Bath and Beyond. These stores are best because they have mattresses & pillows laid out for you to try and experience it. When we sell pillows at our clinic, we always let patients try the pillow before they purchase it (properly covered of course) because it is an essential part of the process.

How Much Should I Spend On A Decent Pillow?

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

Buying a new pillow got you feeling like this?

Thankfully a pillow is not a Ferrari and for the most part, top-tier pillows only differ from their more modestly-priced cousins by a maximum of $100-200. Even if you are on a tight budget, I cannot stress enough the importance of making a good investment in a pillow that you will literally use every single day of your life.

The cost averaged out over the lifetime of the product is so minuscule that I think it is worth splurging and saving money in other realms of life. I spent about $180 on my last pillow and given that it lasted about 5 years, I can say with 100% confidence that each penny per day was worth it

Take away #4 – Try each pillow and then look at the price tag

How Do I Pick The Correct Pillow Size

If both you and your significant other were out shopping for a new pillow, you should not being coming home with the same pillow unless you are physically identical 

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

Having a partner or salesperson check the position of your neck and nose is integral to making sure the pillow is providing the support you need

Your pillow is a really personal item and should be shaped as perfectly to your body’s shape and contours as possible.

When lying on your side the pillow should span the entire distance between the mattress and your head such that your nose is parallel to the ground. If the pillow is t00 large or small, you will notice (in a mirror or from feedback from another) that your nose might point to the ceiling if the pillow is too bulky or might point downward to the floor if too thin

If your nose is not straight or you have to support your head with a hand under it or the pillow, you need more support. The latter point is really important because so many patients I see experience terrible numbness into their hands when they wake and it is often because of a poor fitting pillow. Whether the nerves in your arm and neck are being compressed under the weight of your head when it is sandwiched between the mattress and pillow, or tractioned because your pillow is too large, both might result in injury to the nerves of your upper limbs over time.

if you have broader shoulders, there is more space that the pillow needs to make up between the bed and your neck in order to cradle your head. The perfect pillow will keep your neck straight when lying on your side

If you have broader shoulders, there is more space that the pillow needs to make up between the bed and your neck in order to cradle your head. The perfect pillow will keep your neck straight when lying on your side

A man or woman with broader shoulders is going to need a thicker pillow to traverse the distal between their shoulder and neck in order to cradle the head and provide support.

On the contrary, a person with less broad shoulders would eventually experience neck pain from that same pillow pushing their head and neck too far from the bed towards the ceiling. If your shoulders are less broad you are going to want a thinner pillow.

When you are lying on your back there are two major requirements to check for

  1. There should be no space underneath the shoulders, neck and head
  2. An imaginary straight line parallel to the ground could be drawn between the top of your breast bone, side of your shoulder and the ears

Too large of a pillow if going to put a lot of pressure on the back of your neck and subocciptal region as it pushes the head toward the ceiling; this often leads to headaches

If you were to sleep with too small a pillow or none at all, I would expect a gap of support between the pillow and neck, with the head angled backwards into extension. This position will cause the neck muscles to work overtime to protect your spine while your sleep. In a clinical setting, we see this lead to muscle spasms and irritation of the neck joints.

If you sleep on your side and your back, there are pillow options that allow you to move back and forth and leave your neck perfectly supported. If you know yourself to move around a lot when you sleep than it is a good idea to try pillows (water pillow, side/back sleeper, orthopaedic) that allow for some variation in position.

Take away #5 – We all have different builds and different spines. We should all have different pillows

How Do I Know If It Fits Me?

The short answer is ….

Take Away #6  – “If it is not a yes, it is a no”

When you are testing out the pillows, try as many as possible on both your side and your back. If you are lying on it and are not overwhelmed by the comfort and you do not give a resounding “yes!” to the pillow in question than move it to the NO pile. No, it will probably not feel better on your own bed and might even be worse.

If you lie down and it feels like heaven and it passes the above tests, it might be a go

What Type of Pillow Material Should I Buy?

This is the most difficult question to answer because firstly, there are a bazillion types available and secondly, there is little-to-no research to guide a recommendation between some of the following

Body Pillow, Memory Foam, Contour Pillow, Down Pillow, Feather, Buckwheat, Latex, Polyester Pillow, etc? What type do I get?

An exhaustive explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of each are covered in detail here, which includes some details on allergies, biodegradability, durability, heat resistance and more. In an effort to not repeat what can be read elsewhere, I would only like to contribute that comfort and support should be the most important factors in your purchase.

Take away # 7 – Buy for comfort first, features second 

Of course if you are  deathly allergic to dust and dust mites, you might want to avoid a feather pillow or wrap your pillow with an allergen proof bag

I am biased and love my orthopaedic contoured memory foam pillow because it allows me to sleep on my back or side. I love the support it provides and that it is much more adaptable to the shape of my body than a bulky buckwheat pillow or feather pillow.

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

If you are using a contoured pillow, the big end should be used when on your side

If you are using an orthopaedic contoured pillow remember that the big part of the wave is for side-sleeping and the small part is for sleeping on your back. 

Water pillows can be an excellent choice for people that want a customizable option because they can be filled to a certain level of stiffness and support. They are not for everyone but we have had many patients that love them.

Sleeping on a cloud | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor A product that a lot of people do not know about is the pillow riser. Risers are basically a square or rectangular piece of memory foam  (usually) of variable heights that are placed under your pillow to add height to it. They are perfect to provide additional support and raise an existing or new pillow up if it is not providing the necessary support. As an example, a riser would allow a couple of vastly different upper body builds to use the same sized pillow, whereby the larger person would add a riser underneath their pillow whether back or side sleeping.

Cars Don’t Last Forever Right? Neither Do Pillows.

Any money that might be saved on holding out on a new pillow is negligible to the health consequences, lost productivity, and reduced quality of life for not buying one. 

Pillows on average only last about 2-5 years until they breakdown and fail to provide the initial support that they did when first purchased. Pillows are like shoes in that they should be replaced often and on-time.

Take away # 8 – Pillows do not last forever and should be replaced regularly like shoes


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