Dr. Kevin MacDougall: I wanted to demonstrate and explain the Sleepmatterzzz Cervical Pillow. This is one of the most commonly recommended items for health that I’ve worked with as a chiropractor, mostly because we see a lot of patients with neck problems, headaches, and a lot of soreness and tightness of the muscles on the back of the neck. There’s a reason for that, and part of it has to do with the pillow itself, and part of it has to do with the way people sleep. So, I just wanted to talk about a few different pillow types, and how they affect the neck.
Now this would be the spine, where this side is the front of the spine, this is the back side of the spine, and this is the base of the skull; the head would be up here. Now you’ll notice, from the side, there’s actually a few curves in the spine, and there should be some curves. Down in the lower part of the spine it should curve this way (it’s called the lordosis), and it curves this way in the mid back; this is about where the shoulders would be, and this is the mid back here and it curves the other way. In the neck it actually should curve back, just like it does in the lower back.
A lot of times what we see when we take x-rays, or when we look at someone from their posture, because they sit in front of a computer all day, they do a lot of things that cause the head to go forward like this. It causes an enhancement of this curve here, and over time you see people go more and more forward, but it also puts a whole lot of strain on the muscles here to try to hold the head up. Because of that, everything gets tight, and it compresses and irritates the nerves which commonly cause headaches. The pillow can actually help us maintain that curve, and avoid some of those things, because the curve in the neck should actually be going back this way to keep the head balanced over the spine.
This isn’t necessarily a good or bad pillow; it’s just a basic pillow that doesn’t have any shape to it. It doesn’t have any fancy foam, or memory foam, or anything like that, and depending on the person, this may or may not be a good pillow. But one can look at the way that the spine rests on this pillow, and I don’t have the entire skull so you’re going to have to imagine, but if a person lies on their back, there should be support to that curve.
Now, if we just have one pillow like this, if that person doesn’t have much of a curve and their spine is fairly straight, that may be a decent pillow. But if they’re having a lot of headaches, or they’re having a lot of tension back here, we may need to give them a little support to give the neck a chance to relax. So, if we’re trying to get that curve in the spine, we need something that either has a contour to it, to lift up and support the neck, or we need something that’s adjustable. So, this type of pillow is okay, but you may find that you need something a little bit more specific, depending on how the curve of your spine is.
The absolute best pillow that I’ve found is this one right here, and it’s called the Sleep Matterzzz pillow. The reason I like it is because it’s absolutely customizable for individual posture, and for individual contour of the neck. You’ll notice there are two different types that they make; there’s this one here that’s the single valve, which you’ll notice has different chambers that are filled with air. In this one, all the air circulates together, and that’s not the one I recommend. The one I recommend is this dual-valve, where this section that goes right under the neck is independent of the rest of the chambers in the pillow, and the reason we want that is because we can adjust this a little bit more, and this a little bit less, in order to keep that spine straight but support the curve in their neck.
So let me show you, this is the way that it comes in the box here, and there’s a couple of things that come with the pillow. One of those is actually a pump device that’s very basic; you don’t have to use this, but it keeps it clean, so that’s a good way to do it. Now, the packaging here will open up to the side, and I’m just going to pull this whole thing out. This is what the pillow looks like on the inside; you’ll notice there are individual chambers, and it’s going to be filled with air, so we need to inflate the pillow with these two valves.
This one here is for the cervical section, and this is where the head is going to rest. So, all we need to do is just open the valve; it comes already opened up. You just attach this onto the valve, and pump it up. I’m just going to demonstrate here, but the best time to do this is when the person who’s going to be using this pillow is actually lying on the pillow. I’m going to inflate it, because it’s easier to over-inflate and then decrease than it is to have to reattach the pump every time. I’m just going to distribute the air through these chambers here. I’m going to put just a little bit more in there. We’re going to add the air to this one.
So, I’m not going to fill it up more than that, because it’s going to be hard to get it into the casing, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what that looks like. It’s very soft; the other thing that’s very nice is you can completely deflate it and travel with it. You can stick it in a very small container in your suitcase, and it travels very well. But, what I will say that’s also nice about the air, is that it doesn’t get as hot. This type of a pillow, you lay on this and it’s going to generate a lot of heat; I don’t know if you’re like me, but I will end up flipping the pillow over and trying to find a cold spot on the pillow because it gets too hot. That’s one thing that’s nice about this pillow is that it doesn’t get very hot.
Now I’m just going to take the pump off of here, and I’m going to insert this back in; again, I didn’t fill it all the way up so I could put it back in there. A pillow like this, over time you’re going to build up a lot of dust mites, you’re going to build up a lot of dead skin and just dust in general, so it’s really recommended that about once a month you actually run a pillow like this through your dryer, on a hot cycle, to kill all of those types of things. But with this, you just take the cover off and just wash it with your laundry as you normally would to keep it clean, so you don’t have the dust mites and some of the allergy problems. So, now that we have this back in here, one side is nice and soft, that’s going to be the side you’re lying on; the other side is not, and it’s good to have that so you remember which side is going to have the support for the neck. We’re going to move into the bedroom because you really want to adjust this on a bed with the person who’s going to use it lying their head on there; if you have them lie down on a hard surface, and get it dialed in exactly how you want, and then you shift to the bed, the body is going to sink more into the mattress and it’s going to be too much air. So, you actually want to get it in the bed, and in the position that you’re going to sleep in when you’re actually adjusting it, so let’s go to the bed there and get it settled.
Now while you’re sleeping, at any time if you needed to just open the zipper, you could go in and adjust this. Just let out a little bit of air if you find that it’s too much, but realize that it’s going to take about 2-3 weeks to get used to a new pillow; even if it’s perfectly set, it’s not going to feel normal, and it might take some getting used to. But as you can see here, we want the head to be in line with the spine, and we want just enough support under the neck that it’s just barely touching; not really lifting a lot on the neck, but just barely resting against the neck. We don’t want the head to go back, and we don’t want it to go forward; we really want it to be able to just relax nice and comfortably with the support under the neck. Because it’s air, it’s going to allow any excess to go out to the sides, and so if you roll onto your side you should still have support and your neck should be in line with the rest of your spine.
So that is the Sleep Matterzzz pillow, it is by far my favorite pillow that I’ve ever used. I’ve used some that are very inexpensive that are contoured, that allow a little dip in the center for the head to rest so you still have support on the neck. But, what I’ve found with those types of pillows is you have to replace them more often, and it’s not as convenient when you need to roll onto your side, because if you roll to the side of the pillow your head falls back into the center. With the air pillow, you roll onto your side and the air moves around so it maintains, no matter where you are on the pillow, with that support under the neck, and support under the head.
Now with this pillow, you are going to need to take a little more care, because you don’t want it to have a leak – you don’t want air to come out of the pillow. It does come with a patch kit, which is fairly simple to use, but this pillow should last you several years. The other types of pillows are going to break down and you’ll need to replace them more often, so this is an investment that is really going to last quite a bit longer, especially if you’re able to take care of it. This is the first time we’ve replaced this one in about four years or so, but we’ve traveled with it a lot and we’ve really used and abused the pillow, so it probably could last a lot longer than that; but even at the price that they come, it’s definitely worth it, even if it only lasts a year, but this definitely should last several years for you.
I highly, highly recommend this pillow, this one I give my ten out of ten rating, and it is my favorite pillow.