Ask Dr. Lisa: How Many Pillows Should I Use?

You have questions … and Dr. Lisa, The Sleep M.D., is answering them!  This is the first installment of a new feature on that we call Ask Dr. Lisa.  Each week we ask you to submit questions on our Facebook page, and we pick several of them to submit to our medical sleep expert, Dr. Lisa Shives.

In this installment, Dr. Lisa talks about sleep apnea worries, how many pillows you should have in your bed, and more!

Viola Vincent asks: My husband quits breathing a lot at night.  Whats the best thing to do?   Does he need to get to the doctor quick? It scares me to death!!!!

Dr Lisa: Your husband likely has sleep apnea and should see a sleep specialist in order to get a sleep test asap. Although it is rare for someone to die at night from sleep apnea, it can happen, especially if someone also has a heart or lung condition.  Therefore, you should urge your husband to have this evaluated as soon as he can. In the meantime, he should avoid sleeping pills, pain medication or heavy alcohol intake.

Patricia Conary asks: Does it matter how many pillows you sleep on? I would think its okay to use more than one pillow, but I remember filling out a questionnaire at the doctor’s office and one of the questions asked was how many pillows do you sleep with.

Dr. Lisa: In order to keep the airway open, it is better to sleep with one pillow that is relatively flat. If you feel you breathe better when propped up on two or three pillows, you should discuss this with your doctor because you might be having lung or heart problems or gastroesophageat reflux.

Tim Black asks: Hey Doc Lisa, I sleep on a king size pillowtop mattress, and every morning I wake up feeling tired. I keep getting cricks in my neck, and when I move my spine sounds like Rice Krispy cereal. That doesn’t bother me, my back that is, but my neck and not feeling refreshed is starting to take a toll on me. Is there any thing I can do to change this?

Dr. Lisa: It’s difficult to say without evaluating you in person, but this sounds as though a physical problem is preventing you from sleeping soundly.  I suggest you consult a chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, or your family doctor to investigate it further.

Dr. Shives works with to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Shives by clicking here.