Choosing the Right Pillow: My Experiences with Vertigo

I clearly remember the first time I experienced the symptoms of vertigo. I was in high school sleeping over at a friend’s house. We were all laying down in her room going over the latest middle school gossip.  All of a sudden I felt extremely dizzy and literally saw the room spinning in front of my eyes. Thinking that I was going to completely black out, I immediately sat up to brace myself. That’s when the nausea started kicking in, which couldn’t be alleviated no matter what type of medicine I tried. Thinking it was a one-time incident, I just ignored it and figured it wouldn’t come back again. But then a few days later it happened again. And then again. I began to realize the one thing in common with these dizzy spells was that they occured while lying flat on my back with no pillow.

I was a little concerned! What was going on? I ate right, I exercised regularly, I never needed a pillow before…what could be the problem? After visiting my doctor and explaining my symptoms, he immediately diagnosed me with vertigo. Of course I gave him the blank I have no idea what you’re talking about stare. Um…can you use it in a sentence? I had never heard the word before. Turns out vertigo defined is exactly what I was experiencing: sensation of spinning; dizzy spells. The probable cause: the inner ear. The ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity. It helps you keep your balance. This process can become affected when calcium builds up inside the canal. I was happy to find a diagnosis, but there really wasn’t too much I could do. To remedy the issue was to simply avoid it altogether by never lying flat.

Seems simple enough, but I didn’t realize how many activities actually require you to lie flat! I now needed to ask to be raised up in the dentist’s chair, massages were difficult to manage, and definitely no more yoga! By far the largest challenge was sleeping at night. I upped my pillow count from the occasional one pillow to now needing two! This made it very inconvenient when staying at a  friends home or at hotels. When I was pregnant, I actually needed three! Two for the head and one between my knees!

By rocking the two pillows at night I was able to keep the vertigo under control for the most part. But I would wake up with a lot of neck pain and headaches. It couldn’t be my mattress, which was less than four years old. It HAD to be the pillows. I decided to do a little research as to how important choosing the right pillow was related to sleep.

About 30% of your sleep comfort is determined by the pillow you use, so finding the right one is pretty vital. The goal in choosing a pillow is to keep your neck and head in proper alignment. This is exactly why I was experiencing the discomfort with TWO pillows! Finding your proper alignment largely depends on your body type. If you are of a larger built, you most likely need a thicker, higher profile pillow to fill in the gap between your shoulders and neck. If you have a smaller frame, too thick of a pillow can cause your neck to bend uncomfortably upwards, throwing off your center.

You want to make sure your neck and head are properly aligned and supported by your pillow.

You want to make sure your neck and head are properly aligned and supported by your pillow.

Your sleeping position also plays a major part in choosing the right pillow. If you are primarily a stomach sleeper you’ll want a lower profile pillow so your neck isn’t forced upwards. Back and side sleepers can usually benefit from something a little thicker for added comfort. A lot of pillows add temperature regulation and conformability features to enhance a better nights rest.

Tempurpedic Gel pillows use high dense memory foam to conform to your neck as well as a cooling gel pad on top for temperature regulation.

Tempurpedic Gel pillows use high dense memory foam to conform to your neck as well as a cooling gel pad on top for temperature regulation.

At SlumberWorld we carry a wide variety of pillows, specially designed to meet the demands of any kind of sleeper. From our Bed Gear Ver-Tex latex pillows that feel cool to the touch, to our Tempurpedic pillows that offer several different shapes anatomically designed to curve to your neck and shoulders, we can pair you with the proper pillow for your body type and lifestyle.

Our rack full of Bed Gear pillows!

Our rack full of Bed Gear pillows!

Luckily, I was able to find the right pillow for me…a Tempurpedic Cool Breeze Dual Cooling pillow. The diamond in the rough, which was the key to alleviating a lot of my vertigo symptoms. I am a back and side sleeper, so by adjusting to a pillow that was thick enough, yet was dense enough to conform to my neck and shoulder shape made a world of difference. Vertigo went from being a term super foreign and bizarre to something that I could manage and live with without medication. And all it really took was the right pillow!

Jenna KagawaJenna Kagawa is a Bedding Specialist at SlumberWorld in Kailua Kona. She is the happy mother of twins, Hali’a and Makoa. When not busy finding clients the perfect mattress or chasing her little ones – Jenna enjoys making jewelry, reading, shell collecting, and eating really good food! She is a total social media addict and loves photographing life.



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