I was recently recommended to drop my pillow(s) to help my neck/spine
Evolutionarily we didn't have them so I figure I'll give it a shot.
Anyone have opinions?
Okay, folks. We have to stop using the "Evolutionarily, we didn't have X so X must not be a good idea."
This is not sound scientific reasoning.
Evolutionarily (if that's even a word) we didn't have toilet paper, bicycles, or toothbrushes.
But I think they're a good idea. Pillows are, too.
If you sleep on your back or side, you need a pillow. Period. If you sleep on your stomach, you are turning your head to one side for almost a third of your life. This causes muscle imbalance and pain down the road. Paleo is not a re-enactment. Use a pillow.
In Esther Gokhale's book she recommends using a pillow (placed under the shoulders all the way up to the head) and her posture method is based on looking at traditional cultures around the world. I would look up the Authors@Google video of her talk.
Researching the sleep habits of most cultures, I've come to conclude that sleeping a full 8 hours over night with no naps is a relatively recent, industrial revolution type phenomenon. Many cultures are biphasic and the sleep habits of hunter-gatherer cultures like the !Kung are polyphasic. Having shorter sleeps might help with your stiffening up.
I don't think we know what we did evolutionarily. If Grok had animal skins, he could have stuffed one under his head. Might have to wait for science to answer this one. I have looked and looked for good data on this kind of thing, ie the healthiest sleeping positions and types of bedding, but have found it rather sparse. So far, all I have heard have been advertisements for products and theories with a bit of logic but no real scientific data backing them. -Eva
I sleep on my side always so MUST have a pillow between my knees. Otherwise, I wake up feeling like my hips have caved in. I don't actually really use a pillow for my head (not on purpose- I just only have one pillow, and it ends up between my knees), but I use my upper arm for a pillow, so it's pretty much functioning in the exact same way. Through this self testing of pillowlessness, I have also found that if I move around off my side, I just end up using various parts (arm, shoulder, neck) of my partner as a pillow. So, in my opinion? Ain't nothing wrong with a pillow.
After reading an article on instinctual sleep habits of primitive tribes cited by Marc Sisson's Daily Apple, I gave up my favorite buckwheat husk pillow and have never slept better. I no longer have the problems with my neck and shoulders that plagued me when I tried all types of pillows through the years.
I just recently stopped sleeping without a pillow and I no longer get the neck pain that ran up the back of my head. My pillow also made me hot. I have had pillows from $3 to the $70 My Pillow. All horrible. One thing I do is put an empty pillowcase where my head goes to keep the sheets cleaner. Also, if I place my hand under my neck when I sleep on my side, I slide it under the pillowcase. It's more comfortable. I only discovered sleeping without a pillow a few weeks ago, but so far, so good.
I stopped sleeping with a pillow (lying flat on my back) and it definitely helped with lessening those little aches and pains in my neck that I used to wake up with sometimes. I still use a pillow when I sleep on my side though to keep the neck in alignment.
I also tend to transfer myself to the floor in the middle of the night. Again, sleeping on my back, it keeps my shoulders from hunching forward (my mattress is too soft). I sleep best with a bit of padding on the floor, like a down comforter, underneath me.
You know, when I visited South Korea I slept on a giant stone bed with a 1 inch thick cotton pad under me for two weeks. I got used to it very quickly (although I could sleep just about anywhere). In my two weeks there, I lost about 5-7 lbs. My two theories are that I burned more calories through the night sleeping on a hard surface and that the diet there was pretty awesome. Aside from the white rice, the food could definitely be characterized as paleo-- fantastic fish, meats, shellfish, pickled veggies.