By Dr Amelia Caunt, Osteopath at The Neighbourhood Clinic
Finally onto the holy grail of favourite meal times - Brunch! A little bit of a sleep in, the best menu options... plus coffee - how can you go wrong? Babajan was my next place of exploration - credit for finding this little gem goes to my best friend. The glass cabinets are full of beautiful salads piled high to the brink of spilling over. Little cakes and biscuits sit daintily on cake stands as a tempting addition if you’re up for a long chat.
Pick of the day for brunch was the baked eggs. A little different from baked eggs I’ve eaten before and by far my favourite. Eggs with runny centres, little chunks of fresh tomatoes, nuts and middle eastern spices plus a sesame bread ring as accompaniment. Don’t forget the coffee sourced from Code Black in Brunswick east! Definitely worth a try if you ask me.
One thing my friend was asking me about at brunch, and a question we get asked about regularly as osteopath is pillows. What type should I use, how much should I spend, how do I know which one will be good for me? The reason people are generally asking this is that they’re waking up with a stiff neck, sore shoulders, a sore jaw or a headache.
Pillows are pretty easy once you know the trick to them. Essentially a pillow ( just as a mattress) is designed to hold our spine in a ‘neutral’ position while we sleep. To figure out what your ‘neutral’ is stand up straight - A reminder here that everyone’s ‘neutral’ is a little different and i’m not talking ramrod straight, just stand upright comfortably, you’re not partaking in the royal wedding. Just pillow shopping. A little tip to make it easier can be thinking of having your chin or nose inline with your pubic bone when you’re laying down on your pillow.
The main reason we like the spine to be kept in a relatively neutral position while sleeping is that we’re there for 6-8 hours a night in general. Maybe think about how you feel trying to hop up after slouching at your computer for 8 hours and draw the connection.
Tips for sleeping positions:
Back Sleeper: Look for a lower pillow - you don’t want your chin on your chest or have your head extended back so far you can see the headboard behind you! Just comfortably looking at the ceiling.
Side sleepers - a higher pillow is generally the key here - If your ear is dropped towards the bed or jammed up in the air you’re going to have some cranky stiff muscles in the morning. Having the right pillow height in side lying can sometimes help decrease or manage shoulder pain as well.
Tummy sleeping - a few reasons I don’t love this one - the soft organs in our belly don’t support our spine well and … to breathe, you commonly need to rotate your head to the side.
I’m a firm believer that you don’t need the most expensive pillow on earth nor is a specific material magic and going to fix all of your problems. Pick the pillow that YOU feel comfortable on and that gives you the support you need to keep you comfortable while you sleep. A little tip - a lot of places that sell mattresses also sell pillows and if you pick a mattress similar to yours you can test out your potential pillow to be to see how it feels. The mattress changes how much support you need from your pillow in a big way so try and find something similar.
If your mattress is soft you’ll sink in more and probably not need such a high pillow but a very firm mattress you’ll rest on top of so you’ll need a higher or firmer pillow most likely! Testing it out like this isn’t a guarantee for the perfect pillow but it might help get you one step closer.
Remember this advice is general so if you have been advised otherwise about pillows by your health care practitioner don’t ignore that! Or on top of that if you’re worried about symptoms you have developed or have a new headache you’ve never experienced before see your GP, physio, osteo, chiro whoever it is you like to see and get it checked out. A good pillow is great but we want to avoid missing something else that could be causing your symptoms. Or additionally if you can have a few treatments with your therapist and keep your favourite pillow even better!