From An Upper Cervical Chiropractic Perspective


Should I get measured for proper pillow size?

Dress size. Pant size. Neck size. When you stop and think about it, it’s kind of odd that we don’t know our pillow size. And maybe that’s robbing you of restful sleep…Or making a spine condition more irritating than it needs to be.

Several decades ago TempurPedic (TM) introduced the world to the memory foam pillow, offering a one-size-fits all pillow size with a rounded and elevated cervical support area.

Some people loved it. Others hated it.

Up until the arrival of the first foam pillow, our options were limited to down feathers, synthetic down, wool or cotton fibers, and water bladders. So, this was revolutionary transformation of the pillow landscape.

It would take a few more years for further developments in “pillow science” to bring us mass produced pillows filled shredded foam, or a variety of foam and fiber fills, some of which you could add or remove based on your comfort level.

(Consumer Reports has a very good article on all of your pillow options.)

And don’t forget the memory foam with a variety of cooling exteriors to deal with the reality that yes, the properties that make memory foam so comfortable (soft to hard, but with a density that can support you while it conforms to your shape) also can make it retain heat.

Pillow problems are mostly a sizing problem, and less a materials problem

In my office I have a foam pillow with a literal layer of cool gel pads sewn into the top layer. If that doesn’t sound comfortable, it’s because it’s not. Or at least I don’t think so.

While some companies were working on the cooling problem, no one was working on the solving the biggest problem with memory foam pillows: sizing.

Memory foam is supportive and luxurious if the size is proper for your neck and shoulders. But it’s not that great if it isn’t because you can’t modify it. You can’t fluff it up or pound it down.

You see, when you’re working with a big fluffy down pillow, its biggest advantage over memory foam is sizing.

A big fluffy down pillow can be bunched together, folded, or pushed down in the middle to make it conform. It’s not convenient. It can be imperfect. And over the course of the night, the stuffing can shift – or you can shift, and your head and neck may lose the support it needs.

You may wake up with a kink in your neck from loss of support. But, the ability to control the sizing of the pillow was in your hands.

Now, some people say the water bladder pillows allow you to control the sizing. And that may be true to some degree. But feedback given to me over the years is that you can change the softness and hardness of the water bladders pillows, but the pillow size doesn’t change that much.

So, up until very recently, whenever anyone asked me what pillow they should get, I inevitably said: get the one that fits you the best. You might have to buy a couple. And for a lot of people that meant a synthetic filling that could be molded to the proper shape each night if they were allergic to down, or didn’t want to spend the money.

Introducing the custom pillow size

The first part of the solution is to have a company that makes more than one or two pillow sizes. To have your own pillow measurement!

I am very happy to report that I have found a company that has solved the sizing problem for people who enjoy sleeping on memory foam pillows. They are called Pillowise. They have their own formula for fitting sleepers to a near-perfect pillow size, based on

  • shoulder width,
  • neck length,
  • neck circumference,
  • mattress hardness,
  • and predominant sleeping position.

Then I add my own customization to the pillow sizing process that you may not find anywhere else: assessment of body tension in your sleeping position.

There are two to three significant trigger points in the human body that will slowly activate if your sleep position or pillow size is not adequate for you. I contact these several points to make sure that the pillow is not creating tension in your system, and then give you biomechanical feedback on the position of the shoulders, hips, and legs.

So far this has been an enlightening experience for many patients, and it has been helping some maintain alignment and decrease in between visits.

If you would like to see if you can be properly sized for a memory foam pillow made in the Netherlands, and covered with a cooling slip, you’re welcome to set up a sizing appointment with us. It will take 10 minutes. And we will also evaluate your sleep posture to ensure that the pillow properly aligns the base of the skull (vertex), with the middle of the mid-back, and the center of the low back (sacrum).

Here are few common questions we have had so far…

Common questions about the Pillowise memory foam sizing system

What if I’ve tried memory foam before and didn’t like it?

This is a common experience as many memory foam pillows have a very dense feeling that only softens as they warm due to body heat. I personally avoided memory foam for this reason. These pillows on the other hand, are very soft-to-the touch while remaining supportive. That said, it will be firmer than a down pillow. You can always come into the office and feel one of the pillows for yourself.

Can I order from the company myself?

Pillowise only deals through chiropractor and physical therapist clinics in the U.S. While the measuring process leads to a good pillow fit for many people, there are some other biomechanical considerations you will not get simply by trying to measure yourself. We can always coach you through the process, and then dropship the pillow to you.

Is there a trial period?

Yes. You have 30 days to enjoy the pillow and decide if it’s right for you. Before 30 days you can return to the pillow for a refund, provided you pay shipping.

Is there a warranty?

Pillowise has a five year warranty on their pillows.

Can I schedule a pillow fitting appointment with you if I’m not a chiropractic patient at your clinic?

Yes, you can schedule a pillow fitting appointment with me here.

Pillow Sizing

Requesting a custom pillow sizing

  • Complete this form to receive a phone call setting up your fitting.

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