Vol.1, No.4

Buying a new pillow for better sleep

Buying a new pillow for better sleep depends on knowing how you sleep, firmness needed to keep your head neck, and spine aligned properly, and fill chosen

A new pillow
Photo Credit: Rebecca Dickerson
When we think of sleeping comfortably, most of us automatically think of mattress quality and features, room temperature, room lighting, and noise. Rarely do we give thought to our pillows. With so many choices available today, and the knowledge that our neck alignment in regards to our spines is an important aspect of our overall health, choosing a pillow that is both comfortable to sleep with and is able to improve our sleep, should be an important precursor to our nighttime rituals.

How Often Should Pillows Be Replaced?

Pillows should be replaced anywhere from every six months to two years. A lot of the timeframe will depend on the quality of the pillow you purchase. I also depend on the fold method to know if its time to replace my own. To do this simple test, simply fold your pillow in half. A brand new pillow will be springing back to its original form before you even let go fully. A tired, dead pillow will stay folded. Never wait for your pillows to die all the way before replacing.

How Do You Sleep?

Before running out and buying the first pillow you encounter, consider how you sleep, and that your goal is to keep your head, neck, and spine aligned as straight as possible while sleeping. The simple answer to what position you sleep in can tell you a lot about which pillow to purchase. For example, if you predominantly sleep on your back, a flatter pillow is going to allow your head and neck to keep aligned as straight as possible with your back. A side sleeper has to compensate for the depth of their shoulder, so a firmer pillow that has more depth to its filling should be considered. Stomach sleepers also need to consider how they sleep in regards to their arms. Are they usually tucked beneath your head or at your sides? Again, keep in mind that your goal is to keep your head, neck, and spine as straight and aligned as possible.

Types of Pillows

Once you know if you need a firm or soft pillow, you will have to decide on a fill material. Down, feather, or a combination of the two fillings are some of the oldest fill materials available. Ideal if you are constantly trying to reshape your pillow, as you can push parts of the filling around easily. Avoid if you have allergies, though some manufacturers do purport to have allergy free down, or there is any possibility that the pillows may become damp, such as for use in a camper or tent.

Husk and seed filled pillows are new to the pillow market, or, should I say new again. Used in past centuries, they most likely fell out of favor due to weight and noise factors. They have made a comeback in recent years with many people buying them for their firm support and the advantage of being able to mold them to almost any shape you would want. Their one downfall that many people avoid them for is that they do make a soft rustling noise when being moved.

Memory foam is one of the newest material available and one of the longest lasting for shape retention. Often shaped unconventionally in comparison to what many of us think of as a usual pillow shape, they can be ideal choices for people with back, neck, or shoulder pain.

Foam, not to be confused with the above mentioned memory foam, is often used as filling wither as a solid section, pellet shapes, or shredded. Often considered lower quality than other forms of filling, it can be a good choice depending on the fabric covering it and the quality of the individual fill.

Cotton or cotton combined with a synthetic is a good choice for those with allergies. Available in a variety of supports, from super soft to super firm, you should have no problem finding one that fits your support needs.

Whatever pillow choice you decide on, remember that a good pillow can truly transcend into supporting a healthy life.