A high quality mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep, but an equally important step is in knowing how to choose the right pillow. A pillow has the important job of supporting your head and neck, providing proper alignment for your spine during sleep. In fact, 30% of the comfort of your sleep rests in your pillow.
So how do you pick the right one? Here are 10 things you need to know about pillows so you can make the best choice:
Your pillow needs to support head and neck so they remain level with your upper back and spine. The goal is to have you lying in bed with the same posture you use when you stand. If you find it more comfortable to put your arm under your pillow when you sleep, your pillow probably isn’t providing enough support.
Fluffy pillows seem like a great choice, but the weight of your head can displace the stuffing material, leaving little support. Choose firmer foam or materials that press back and support the head.
If you sleep on your side, you need a firm, full pillow that fills the space between your ear and shoulder. Look for one that will maintain its shape to eliminate neck pain.
If you’re a stomach sleeper choose a thin, almost flat pillow. Experts say you might not even need a pillow for your head, but you can tuck one beneath your stomach to avoid lower back pain. Sleeping on your stomach causes strain on your lower back and has the potential for causing neck pain.
If you sleep on your back, you need a thin pillow. Look for one with extra loft in the bottom third to provide cradling for your neck. You can also place a soft pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve of your spine.
Pillows Should Work With Your Mattress
Your pillow also needs to work in tandem with your mattress. If you have a plusher bed, choose a lower profile pillow. Firm beds should be paired with higher profile pillows.
If you wake up during the night because you’re too hot, know that the pillow you choose can affect the temperature of your bed. Poly-filled pillows are known for heating during sleep. Choose a ventilated pillow that’s designed to move hot air out at night or a gel pillow that provides the perfect sleep temperature.
Pillows Need to Be Regularly Replaced
How old is your pillow? If you don’t know, it’s probably time to replace it. The editors of Prevention magazine suggest that you change your pillow once a year. If you use a protective pillow cover, they say you can double its life.
Know the Material
Your pillow material can prolong its life. The experts at Art Van PureSleep give these general guidelines: fiber- or poly-filled pillows are usually good for 6 to 18 months depending on quality. Wool or goose down pillows will last for two to three years. And latex or memory foam pillows are good for up to 5 years, depending on quality. Always use a pillow protector to maintain and prolong the life of your pillow investment.
Get a Pillow Protector
Finally, a pillow protector is a smart investment. Your pillow can become filled with fungi, dead skin, dust mites and drool – all of which can aggravate allergies, asthma, sinusitis and respiratory disease. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that exposure to these allergens is a significant risk factor for the development of asthma and hay fever.