In our earlier article we looked at finding a duvet that will help to give you a good night’s sleep. This is something that will keep your body at the right temperature, as well as your partner’s body, be the right weight and not set off any allergies.
A lot of this is true for your pillows. They need to support you, keep your head comfortably aligned with the spine and keep any allergies at bay. One cause of poor sleep could be a pillow that’s worn out or that doesn’t suit the way you sleep.
When should I change my pillow?
A frightening statistic is that up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of dead skin cells, dust mites and their faeces. To maintain your and a pillow’s health they need to be laundered and replaced regularly.
If you answer ‘yes’ to 2 or more of the questions below, it could be time to replace your pillow.
- Do you wake up with aches and pains, especially in your neck, upper back or shoulders?
- Do you find it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position for your head and neck?
- Is your pillow flatter and less plump than it used to be, even when you fluff it up?
- Is your pillow more than 2 years old?
This pillow test is recommended by finebedding.co.uk:
For natural filled pillows:
- Put the pillow on a flat firm surface such as a table and fold it in half.
- Push down on it so that the air is expelled and then release the pressure.
- If the pillow unfolds slowly and returns to its original shape then it is probably in good condition and able to support you.
- If it remains folded then it is worn out and should be replaced.
For synthetic filled pillows:
- Do as above but use a heavy book (about 400g) or something similar to press down.
- When you lift the weight off, does the pillow spring back into shape? In which case it’s healthy and supportive.
- If it stays folded it needs to be replaced.
So which filling will best suit your needs?
Down filling comes from the breast of the bird and doesn’t have the quills that the feather filling has. It therefore gives a lighter pillow and a medium-soft support. Feather and down pillows are less suitable for allergy sufferers.
There are several types of synthetic fillings.
Hollowfibre, microfibre and polyester are all good for allergy sufferers. Hollowfibre is, as the name suggests, a long fibre with a hole through the middle which traps air and is a good insulator. The fibre is also firm so the pillow keeps its shape but is soft. Allergy sufferers should see this article on how to improve their sleep.
Memory foam pillows have grown in popularity, as have their memory foam mattress counterparts. The foam is temperature sensitive and moulds to the contours of your head, holding it in alignment with the neck spine.
An alternative filling that has come back on the market (after centuries off it) is the husk or wheat-filled pillow. It also moulds to the head and neck but makes a soft rustling noise when you move on it.
How do you sleep?
So when you’re thinking about buying a new pillow also think about how you sleep. If you sleep on your side then the pillow should fit into your shoulder so that your head is held level and the spine straight and supported.
If you sleep on your back the same is true – the neck should be aligned and not tipped back or the chin tipped down.
If you sleep on your front then the pillow should be soft enough that the neck is not over extended.
If you (or your partner) snores or has sleep apnea then specialist pillows will be of use to you. There is an article dedicated to this here.