You are spending six to eight hours of sleeping beside, over, or under a pillow. It's time to focus on finding the right sleeping companion.
More than just aesthetic for your bed, pillows are essential to one's sleep hygiene. So essential that some people are not able to sleep without them. If your quality sleep relies on finding the right loft and cover material, it is important to take your time shop around for the pillow that fits your needs. Here’s a checklist for you to take a deeper understanding of what matters most in a pillow.
Does it support your back and spine?
According to the University of Rochester, pillows are helpful in keeping your spine in proper position. The pillow you choose should be able to support the natural curve of your neck. Too high a loft and it will cause strain on your back, neck and shoulders. Too low will give you breathing problems and discomfort in the neck. If you sleep in various positions, the University of Rochester advised that you should get pillows which can be layered or adjusted in different alignments.
- If you sleep on the back, they advised to put a small pillow under the back of your knees. This will reduce stress placed on your spine while supporting the curve of your lower back.
- If you sleep on your stomach, you may experience backache as the spine can be put out of the position. To alleviate that, place a flat pillow under the stomach to help you keep better alignment.
- If you are a side sleeper, holding a firm pillow in between your knees will prevent your thighs from pulling the spine from its alignment. Additionally, this reduces the stress placed on your hips and lower back. Experts advised that you sleep pulling your knees slightly toward your chest.
- If you toss and turn around during sleep, pull smaller pillows into the gaps between your bed and body.
What's the best size for your pillow?
Like all things, pillows also serve many purposes, but they all contribute to one thing: quality sleep. By taking these alignments into account, you can choose the pillow size that suits your requirement. For example, wedge pillows are used by people with chronic back ailments and those who are recovering from back surgery. Lumbar support pillows help fill the gap between the chair and your lower spine, helping you retain the curve in your lower back. Travel pillows are U-shaped cushions that support the neck as you take long hours of air or land travel.
Traditionally, the standard size is 40x80, suiting many sleeping preferences, including side sleepers that require a thicker, firmer pillow. The 40x40 is the smaller variety of the big square pillow and can be used for embellishing beds or layering with other pillows.
Do you want soft or firm pillows?
Pillow fillings range in various structural support. This could be attributed to the pillow's size and budget. Confused where to start? These are the common pillow fills in the market:
- The cheapest option is the synthetic down fill, usually made of polyester. Typically found in most retail stores, they are less expensive than other kinds, but they wear out much faster and will need to be replaced more often.
- Natural counterparts such as a feather pillow are made from 100% goose down and provides a softer support in the head.
- Wool fills are organically hypoallergenic and promises better longevity. Plus, they are resistant to mites and mold and holds a firmer support compared to goose down.
- Cotton varieties are low in the loft; this alternative suit those who require flatter pillows.
- Memory foam pillows are becoming popular choices; these pillows are made with special technology that conforms to your upper body's shape and responds to your own weight. It distributes that weight across the surface, which then results to better support for your neck, shoulder and spine.
Other pillow fillings include the polypropylene capsules found in orthopedic pillows and latex, which hold shape better than any of the other fills.
Don't forget to mind the covers
Pillow covers are your first line of defence in keeping your fluffy sleep accessories cleaning for a longer time. Don't just buy them for their aesthetics; consider the materials they come with.
- Cotton is one of the common varieties; this soft fabric is cool and gentle on the skin. One drawback: as you toss and turn, it makes folds and creases which will leave marks on your face. Watch out for its absorbent properties; this might potentially soak the facial lotions you put on at night.
- Nylon is an inexpensive fabric often woven as satin. It is non-absorbent, but it can make your face feel greasy, especially during hotter days. Fortunately, this is an easy-to-maintain fabric and can dry up quickly after it is washed.
- Polyester is a synthetic fibre commonly used for bed linens. It is non-absorbent and promises longevity. However, like cotton, it tends to make creases, which might cause wrinkles on your skin.
- Silk is the fabric most recommended by dermatologists. Pillowcases made from silk are proven to prevent breakouts and wrinkles. Because of its organic make, it regulates your skin's temperature and keeps it hydrated (thanks to the proteins packed in its fibre). This luxurious option is a must-have for a healthy, wrinkle-free beauty sleep.
- Pillows don't have to washed every now and then, but the covers do, because these can accumulate germs in time. Picking the right materials will help you enjoy your pillows for a long time, minus the unwanted lines and signs of aging.
When do you change your pillow? Likely, when you're not getting enough sleep. HuffPost Australia puts it like this: “A very clear indicator that it's time to change your pillow is if you consistently have restless sleep and a sore neck.” If you are currently unsatisfied with your cushions, perhaps it's time for a pillow overhaul.