Is your current pillow lumpy and uncomfortable? Are you waking up in the morning feeling more tired than you should be given how much sleep you had? Well, if that describes you, it means that you are getting suboptimal sleep; likely from very brief sleep interruptions that you don’t even notice, but prevent you from entering the deeper levels of your sleep cycle, especially REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, where most of its restorative benefits occur.
And what can cause such interrupted sleep? Well, the article title practically gives it away; while there are many factors that could be contributing to this such as an uncomfortable mattress, ambient light, noise, or a room that is too hot or too cold, people often disregard the importance of a good pillow to a good night’s sleep. In this article, we will explain to you the steps you need to take in order to ensure that any pillow you purchase will be the right fit for you.
Step 1: Know When It is Time to replace your Old Pillow
How long does a pillow last? There’s no general answer to that one because there are simply too many varieties out there, from polyester to buckwheat, from down to latex, and each type of pillow usually comes in varying grades of quality as well. For example, a cheap polyester pillow might need to be replaced within as little as a year while a good buckwheat pillow can last up to 10 years! So which is the right one? The best way is to go by feel; when you lie down on your pillow in your favored sleeping position, pay attention to the curvature of your spine: is it neutral? If it isn’t then it means that your old pillow has simply gotten misshapen over the years and needs to be replaced or it wasn’t suitable for you in the first place and thus needs to be replaced anyway. Also, when doing this test, keep in mind that while a pillow may provide adequate support for the first couple hours or so, it may shift during the night and provide inadequate support for the rest of the time.
Step 2: Understand the Various Pillow Fillings
We consumers are spoilt for choice nowadays when it comes to pillow fillings. Here are just some of the common options available on the market: down, feathers, polyester, cotton, wool, latex, memory foam, buckwheat. And each filling has variations within its type too as well as blends. Down is the most expensive type of pillow and polyester generally the cheapest. Memory foam and latex pillows are generally firmer and make excellent pillows for neck pain.
Step 3: Take Into Account your Sleeping Position
The position you sleep in will determine what loft of pillow is ideal for you. People who end up with neck pain in the morning are usually those who aren’t using the right type of pillow. As mentioned above, while a latex or memory foam pillow tend to be the best pillow for neck pain, the loft of the pillow is just as important. A pillow’s loft refers to how high it sits when placed flat on the mattress. Side sleepers will need higher loft pillows, back sleepers should use medium loft pillows, while stomach sleepers should use pillows with the lowest loft possible. Besides your sleeping position, you should also factor in your weight; if you are on the heavier side, you want to choose a pillow that is of a higher loft than what you think you might actually need. Also, if you have a soft mattress, you’ll also want to choose higher loft pillows. If you ignore these hard and fast rules, you will more than likely experience neck pain or back pain some time in the future.
Step 4: Consider Pillow Care Requirements
While pillow maintenance is not some big time consuming event; you’ll still need to maintain your pillows and should take that into consideration when choosing pillow types. For example, polyester pillows are machine washable and dryable and thus the most convenient, whereas down pillows would often need to be hand washed. On the other hand, latex and memory foam pillows should not come into contact with water at all as it would affect its viscoelastic properties.
Step 5: Test Drive Your Pillow
Before committing to any one pillow, we strongly recommend you test it out first in the store for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Ignore any weird looks people might give you. If that is for whatever reason not possible, when you bring it home try it out while it’s still in the plastic wrap first to see whether it gives you adequate neck support. If not, just return it to the store.
Step 6: Understand that your Pillow Requirements May Change Over Time
Just because a certain kind of pillow is perfect for you now does not mean that sticking with the same type of pillow forever is a good choice. Conditions such as weight gain, spinal issues etc. means that you’ll likely be switching through different types of pillows throughout the years.