If there was one piece of bedding that knew you almost as intimately as your partner, it would be your pillow. On average, you spend 8 hours nuzzled into it, looking for support and comfort - not too far off from what you'd expect from a spouse!
Okay, so this may all sound a little bizarre, but the point is that your pillow is a pretty big deal. It has a major impact on your quality of sleep and therefore, your day-to-day productivity. Here's how to choose the best pillow to suit you...
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pillow
Pillows, as we know them today, have come a very long way. Ancient Chinese tradition focused on the belief of personal vitality through pillow choice. Soft pillows were said to steal your vitality, so they opted for versions made from ceramic, wood, and leather. Europeans, Greeks, and even ancient Egyptians thought otherwise and believed in lavish opulence when it came to pillow choice.
Nowadays, pillow choice centers on a few key things: loft, support and sleep position, pillow stuffing, and washability. At least, this is what you should be considering when choosing a pillow...
1. Pillow Loft
This refers to the thickness or height of your pillow when measured from the bed. In other words, if your pillow is quite flat, this is a low-loft pillow. If your pillow is thick, this is a high-loft pillow.
2. Support and Sleep Position
This is one of the most important criteria to consider when picking a pillow. This decision should be largely based on how you sleep throughout the night. Are you a side, back or stomach sleeper? If you tend to switch positions, go with the dominant position you find most comfortable.
If you suffer from neck pain, pillow support is even more important. You need to consider a pillow that offers comfort and support as you sleep. You should go with something firm, but not hard – medium fill and firm fill are ideal.
Back and Stomach Sleepers
If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, a soft, low-loft pillow is the best choice. However, stomach sleeping is not recommended in the long-term as this can lead to chronic neck and back pain. If you're a back sleeper, go for a pillow that supports the natural curve of your spine i.e. the gap created by the arch of your neck. A pillow that's overstuffed can cause strain. So it's best to opt for a firm or medium pillow.
A large portion of the population sleeps on their side. If you're also a fan of this position, you need to find a pillow that supports the space between your head, neck, and the mattress. The arched curve of your neck as you sleep on your side actually doesn't need much support. Instead, your spine and neck require proper alignment. An overstuffed, high-loft pillow is not ideal and can cause strain. The same goes for low-loft pillows that are too soft. Choose a pillow that supports the weight of your head, made from high-quality materials such as medium-loft polyester.
3. Pillow Stuffing
Pillow stuffing, also known as batting, is equally as important because it determines the support of your pillow. It's also worth considering if you suffer from certain allergies. There is a myriad of pillow stuffing options out there, but some of the most popular include:
Memory foam made its world debut in 1966, developed by NASA to improve the comfort and safety of aircraft cushions when launching into space. Memory foam is an intelligent type of material that can mold to your body and then return to its original shape after. These types of pillows are ideal for people with chronic neck pain as they absorb the weight and pressure of the head while you sleep. They're also ideal for back and side sleepers.
If you suffer from allergies, down pillows are not for you. Otherwise, look for hypo-allergenic down, also known as hypodown pillows which may cost a little more. They are made from the feathers of ducks or geese and are ideal for stomach sleepers who require soft, low-loft profile pillows. Down feather pillows are easy to wash, keep cool because of good airflow, are lightweight, and adjustable.
Polyester fiberfill is probably the oldest type of pillow stuffing on the market today, but it's still a popular choice. This material is easily washable and affordable. Polyester pillows come in a variety of shapes, sizes, loftness, firmness, and fluffiness. High-profile polyester pillows are ideal for back and side sleepers. The only downside is that polyester tends to trap heat and loses its shape and height over time.
4. Pillow Washability
It's also important to consider how easy it is to wash and dry your pillow. Each type of pillow material can be cleaned in its own way, and some methods are quite different from the next. Generally, polyester pillows are machine-washable. However, down, memory foam and latex pillows must be hand-washed.
Washing your pillow regularly is actually quite important, too. It removes allergens such as bacteria, fungi, mold, and dust mites. Not-to-mention sweat, saliva, and hair oil! Keeping your pillow clean and allergen-free makes for a better night's sleep for both you and your partner.
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