Dr. Sharman’s Musings

finding the right pillow

Finding the Right Pillow for You

Poor sleep is one of the topics that people complain about more than just about any other health issue. Who hasn’t heard their co-workers gripe about how they didn’t sleep well or didn’t get enough sleep? Sleep is truly a big deal…in all of our lives.

So it makes sense to do something about the part of sleep that you can easily control: finding the right pillow.

Our patients have enjoyed the benefits of quality sleep and comfort with our Pillowise Pillows. We get such incredible feedback that I thought I’d share the entire story of how we came to offer this sleep-changing pillow.


Discovering Pillowise

For the past 17 of the 22 years I’ve been in private practice, I have set up and run all of our chiropractic conventions for the Maryland Chiropractic Association.  About three years ago, one of my best friends from chiropractic school, Dr. Kevin Wong, was coming to speak to our association.

In the lead-up to the convention, Dr. Wong kept talking about this person named Thijs van der Hilst from the Netherlands who had an ergonomic sleep product company called Pillowise. Dr. Wong inquired if van der Hilst could come from the Netherlands to be a vendor over the weekend at our convention. It struck me as odd that this business person would want to travel all the way from the Netherlands just to meet the doctors in our tiny little association, but I agreed.

After spending the weekend getting to know van der Hilst and his products, I realized that he had something very different and far superior to any pillow I’d seen on the market. I also realized how passionate he is about his purpose in helping others to have quality sleep (a passion I actually share). I quickly fell in love with the Pillowise pillows…and knew I wanted to find a way to offer them to my patients.

After seeing people touch and test out the pillows at our convention, I knew that to offer them, we’d need to do more than link to a website. We’d have to physically have them in the office for patients to experience themselves.


The Pillowise Approach

We started carrying Pillowise and with van der Hilst’s training, I learned how to measure patients correctly and recommend the best pillow. An appropriate pillow, one that is the correct height and shape, will adapt to the contours of your neck, is comfortably soft and gives great support. So to determine your perfect pillow match, you need to get measured. Patients get to lay on them during the fitting process.

Fitting the pillow involves three distinct measurements along with a series of questions about your sleephabits and environment. Many ergonomic pillows come in different sizes but these types of specific measurements, along with the questions, are unique to Pillowise. Most custom pillow products offer a few sizes while Pillowise has six! The Pillowise system yields the perfect pillow fitted to your dimensions, with optimal support to the cervical spine and head.


RELATED: How to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep – Part One


The perfect pillow “fit” allows muscles to relax during sleep. I’m thrilled that the Pillowise products are 100 percent Oekotex certified – the highest certification you can get for non-toxic materials. And finally, the company makes sure you are completely satisfied with your pillow investment. Every pillow has a 100%, 30-day money-back guarantee, as well as a five-year warranty. If you don’t love your Pillowise pillow, just bring it back and receive a full refund.


Our patients’ response

Well, our patients have gone crazy over Pillowise! They love getting to touch and feel the pillows before making their purchase. My mother purchased one and shared that she hasn’t had neck pain from sleeping even once since she started using her Pillowise pillow. Feedback across the board has been outstanding.

We had so many patients in the office getting fitted for pillows that my staff became experts at fitting and now do it with great ease. And we continued to get to see van der Hilst, as he started coming to all of our conventions twice a year. His booth would get so busy with doctors trying to learn about his pillows, that my employee Tiffany once jumped right in and started showing other doctors how to fit the pillows and explaining how they work! Tiffany was such a natural that Pillowise hired and trained her to be van der Hilst’s US liaison. So we have our very own Pillowise representative and expert….working right in the office!

Now the company has expanded the product line to include custom-fit travel pillows and mattress toppers.

Pillowise is such a wise investment – considering you’ll be using this product every single night! And your sleep is so valuable to your overall health. Pillows start at $99 – very typical for custom pillows – and we want to give you a special offer to encourage you to try Pillowise.

From now through October 31, save $10 off the regular or travel Pillowise pillow.

If you’re not sure, please make time to stop by and see what all the fuss is about! We’ll be happy to talk with you about the pillows and let you check them out. If you decide it’s for you, we can get you fitted – and you’ll be on your way to a better night’s sleep.


Dr. Sharman



chiropractors can help with vertigo

Chiropractors Can Help With Vertigo

Vertigo – it comes in many forms, has many causes, can be acute or chronic and affects around 35-40% of all people over the age of 40 at least once in their lifetime. Perhaps you have experienced it? Or know someone who has? It’s extremely frustrating and debilitating…and if it is chronic, it is a tough way to live your life.

When I hear about a friend or relative having an experience with vertigo, I always feel a lot of empathy for what they are going through. Sufferers often have a sense that the room is spinning, with extreme dizziness. Vertigo can be accompanied by tinnitus – or a ringing of the ear – balance issues, nausea and vomiting and headaches. Some folks can even lose their hearing over time.

I’ve known people to have a temporary experience with vertigo that thankfully subsided over time. Vertigo has various causes but many are related to the inner ear. Patients have asked me if chiropractors can help with Vertigo – and the answer is yes! But before visiting one, here’s what you should know about the condition and the treatment.


What Causes Vertigo

Vertigo is not a condition you can predict or expect to have happen. For many, it just shows up one day, although there are some instances when head trauma or a virus can trigger it.


Central vertigo occurs as the result of a disturbance in one or more parts of the brain, known as sensory nerve pathways.


Peripheral vertigo occurs when there is a disturbance in the balance organs of the inner ear. This is the more common cause of vertigo. Within this category of causes, there are a few main kinds:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BBPV is a condition that affects the inner ear, particularly when calcium particles or crystals clutter in the canals of the ear and the endolymph fluid can’t move them along.
  • Meniere’s disease is caused by a change in pressure in the ear plus a buildup of fluid. This can cause both vertigo and possibly hearing loss.
  • Labyrinthitis is commonly associated with having an ear infection in the structure of the ear that controls hearing and balance.
  • Vestibular neuritis is also a condition commonly associated with having an ear infection. The nerves of the inner ear become inflamed and vertigo symptoms ensue.


Treatments for Vertigo

For the forms of vertigo that don’t go away without treatment, there are some treatment options that do work. In fact, many forms of vertigo – and BBPV in particular – can often be cured over time when specific treatment is applied.

There has been some research on the impact of chiropractic on people suffering from vertigo symptoms, such as dizziness and lack of balance. In this study, patients did improve over time.

Primarily, we chiropractors offer three kinds of treatments that have all shown to be impactful in reducing the symptoms of vertigo.


Chiropractic manipulation focuses on the joints that are not moving properly. Cervicogenic vertigo, when the joints of the upper neck send the wrong signals to the brain about body position and movement, benefits the most from chiropractic manipulation. Chiropractor Don Fitz-Ritson conducted a study that had a 90 percent success rate when treating this type of vertigo with manipulation, after 18 months of treatment.


Positioning maneuvers is another approach that is well-known for improving vertigo symptoms. If the source of vertigo appears to be the inner ear, it may be that debris has accumulated in the balance center of the inner ear. When debris settles in the complex system of fluid-filled tubes of the inner ear, patients can end up with vertigo. By conducting positioning maneuvers, with the Epley Maneuver being one of the most recognized, a chiropractor can attempt to reposition the debris to a less problematic position within the inner ear. This maneuver works well for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV.



Finally, we can show you some exercises that are designed to break up the crystals that can lead to Vertigo. They target the vestibulocochlear system, with the Brandt-Daroff exercises being the most commonly known. Patients have to follow the steps religiously and repeat them five times in the morning, afternoon, and evening for about two weeks.

With the Brandt-Daroff approach, I have the patient sits on the edge of his/her bed and alternately lay on first one side, back upright, then the other side at one-minute intervals. While this can help with symptoms if the protocol is followed, I always warn patients that there is a risk of nausea – so folks should discontinue if that symptom becomes severe.



While vertigo can be difficult to live with and challenging to resolve, for many people it will go away within a few weeks or months. For some, this won’t happen without treatment. If you find yourself with a bout of vertigo, it’s hard to do nothing and hope it will disappear. So consider seeking help! Chiropractors can help with vertigo – and once we diagnose the cause of your vertigo, we’ve got several options for how to help you get rid of it. I hope you never have it, but I’m here if you do.


Dr. Sharman