You know the feeling. You have stayed in that hotel or slept over at that relative's house. You move the pillow around. You rested on the edge of it. You folded it in two. Finally, you threw the pillow off of the bed in frustration. It is surprising how a little piece of material, whether feather or foam, wrapped with a bit of fabric can drastically impact your ability to sleep.
The truth is, proven by science and experience, that a pillow can make or break your body's ability to fully utilize the rest it so badly needs. And here are some reasons why:
1. Unsupportive Pillows Worsen Health Conditions
Okay, so a lousy pillow rarely, if ever, causes serious health maladies. But it can make conditions that already exist worse. If you have headaches, it can exacerbate them. If you have neck pain, it can accentuate it. If you tend to get numb in your arm or shoulder when you sleep, a lousy pillow will make it happen more often. The same goes for any general discomfort that you have when you sleep, as well as internal maladies, like wheezing, sneezing, snoring, and coughing.
2. Old Pillows Provoke Allergies
Pillows may not be people, but they still collect things—in a gross way. After many periods of sleep, when a pillow has been cuddled, cried into, and sweated on, about half of its weight comes after significant usage. These things include everything from dust mites and fungus to mildew, mold, and even skin cells. You may not have easily aggravated allergies, but breathing in a concoction like these every night will eventually get to your immune system and airways.
3. Bad Pillows Put Your Spine At Risk
Your spine, head, hips, shoulders, and neck find support from many intricate bits and pieces (also known as muscles, bones, and joints). When you sleep, a pillow plays a vital role in supporting and protecting them. The kinesthetic purpose of a pillow is to keep the upper body aligned when lying down. It counterbalances the supine position of the body and relieves pressure off of joints and muscles. It's precisely why a good pillow is so essential. It supports the body as it rests and helps to restore it from physical, postural, and nervous pressure that builds up over the day. Without the ability to recover, your spine, neck, shoulders, and more could fall into serious disrepair.
4. It Disrupts Sleep
You need a good night’s sleep. Your body requires it to function correctly. If you do not get it, not only will you have low energy during the day and feel groggy, it will likely affect your mood and your health. For your immune system to continue fighting off bacteria and viruses, it needs rest. And this is where the lousy pillow comes in.
A bad pillow can disrupt your sleep, even if you do not remember waking up in the night or tossing and turning. It can eventually cause low-grade exhaustion or semisomnia. The Edinburgh Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service found that uncomfortable sleep conditions can cause people to lose about an hour of sleep every night. But on top of this, it lowers the quality of sleep.
How To Know Which Pillow Is Right For You
1. Your Sleep Position
Most people move around in their sleep. They do not just get into bed, lie down in a specific position, and then remain there for eight hours. However, typically, people favor a particular position. This position is either on one of their sides, on their back, or their stomach.
- Stomach sleepers need a pillow that will not elevate their head too much. If it is overly elevated, it will put a strain on the neck. Therefore, the thinnest pillow is best. Additionally, a pillow under the stomach can help to prevent back pain for stomach sleepers.
- Side sleepers need a pillow with medium thickness, allowing their head to be elevated enough to keep it aligned with the spine. A contoured pillow will also work well, as well a pillow placed between the thighs.
- Back sleepers should look for wedge pillows or pillows that medium or medium-thick.
- For those individuals who do have no position that they spend a majority of their time in or combination sleepers, a pillow with a mix of different types of fillers will likely allow them to adjust the pillow to their different needs (i.e., a lower height when they are on their stomach).
2. The Ideal Pillow Filler For You
When it comes to the fill of a pillow, there is no right choice. It merely depends on what you need and want.
- The cheapest option is a polyester or synthetic down fill. These pillows are typically less expensive but will need to be replaced more often as they wear out much faster than their natural counterparts. However, there is nothing wrong with this filler, and it is ideal for those who prefer a medium softness to their pillow.
- Alternatively, if you like the softest of pillows and want one that will last a long time, The Easy Breather Pillow from Nest Bedding is a good choice. These pillows will be filled with a combination of shredded foams and a siliconized fiber, making for a supportive yet soft pillow. And if you suffer from allergies, they make for an excellent hypoallergenic pillow.
- Memory foam is a third option. These pillows will conform to your body and respond to your body weight and heat. It has a unique technology that enables it to evenly distribute weight across its surface, making it more supportive of the head, neck, and shoulder muscles. However, if you tend to get hot at night, these pillows will accentuate it, as they are highly heat-retaining.
- Finally, there are wool, cotton, and latex fill pillows. Wool pillows are naturally hypoallergenic and have longevity. They also are resistant to both dust mites and mold. Wool typically offers a firmer feel and helps regulate temperatures (i.e., it will keep you fresh when it is hot and warm when it is cold). Cotton tends to be very similar to wool, except it provides a flatter feel to it while still being firm. Latex' firmness lies somewhere in between down and wool. It is also resistant to dust mites and mold and is known to hold its shape better than any of the other materials.
It is essential that you find the right pillow for you and your loved ones. A good night's sleep goes a long way, and a pillow is the best route there.