You’re finally in bed. You sink back into your pillow and sigh with pleasure. Or do you?
Many people underestimate the difference a pillow makes, not only to their quality of sleep but also to their musculoskeletal structure. A poor or uncomfortable pillow can derail your sleep by causing you pain, affecting your posture and even exacerbating allergies and skin conditions.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, it may be time to invest in a new pillow.
Stiffness and pain
If you experience pain in your neck, back, shoulders or hips during the day, this may indicate a problem with your sleeping posture. Your pillow and mattress are equally important in providing the right support. Having too soft a pillow can cause strain on the neck, head and shoulders, which will compensate by extending or contorting to meet the pillow. A pillow that is too hard can cause neck cricks and headaches during the day.
Regardless of your sleeping position, good alignment is key. Try to keep your ears, shoulders and hips aligned.
If you sleep on your side, you’ll likely benefit from using thicker pillows that support the natural curve of your head and neck. Likewise, if you sleep on your back. To give your body support during sleep, try tucking rolled up towels or small, soft pillows in the spaces between you and the mattress.
Sleeping on your stomach can also create stress on the lower back because front sleeping causes the pelvis to sag into the mattress, potentially throwing the spine out of alignment. Front sleepers can benefit from a small flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis.
If you find that you have to constantly re-adjust your pillow while trying to fall asleep, or your pillow is lumpy, flattened or tearing at the seams, it probably needs updating.
Try bending it in half. If it doesn’t straighten back into shape, it should go.
Have you been experiencing allergies? Your pillow could be the culprit.
Pillows can be a haven for dust, dirt, dead skill cells and dust mites and all of these can make allergies go berserk. With the arrival of spring, you might be experience wheezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. An old pillow won’t help.
For allergy-prone folk, try a hypoallergenic pillow, which is designed to be anti-microbial, mildew proof and dust mite resistant.
Finding the right pillow
Memory foam conforms to your shape, while hypoallergenic pillows repel mould and dust mites and wick moisture away (or keep the pillow dry).
Traditional materials remain popular. Down and feathers also conform to your shape and repel dust mites, though they are more expensive and are often produced through unfair animal treatment practices.
Wool, cotton and synthetic materials are the most cost-effective options, but they have shorter lifespans and are more attractive to dust mites.
Finding the right pillow comes down to personal preference. There are a variety of pillow types available, but it’s up to you to decide what you need.
Have you found the perfect pillow? How regularly do you replace it?
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.