Almost one-third of our lives are spent sleeping and the remaining two-thirds of it are determined by the quality of sleep that we get. There are many people who suffer from pains and aches in their neck or back. The simple reason for those pains is sleeping on the wrong pillow.
Investing in the right pillow is a sensible decision, because if you're not proactive in fixing your back and neck pain, you may face bigger problems, such as tendonitis, muscle stiffness, herniated discs, nerve pain, and more. If you’re looking to buy a new pillow, here are some things to consider:
1. Identify the right time to replace the old pillow
Pillows, no matter how good the quality, don’t last forever. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the book "Good Night," explains: "If you have a plain-old, inexpensive polyester pillow, you should be replacing it every six months, but if you have a memory foam pillow or any one with structural integrity, it’ll last you anywhere from 18 to 36 months.”
After some time, your pillows will get lumps and become saggy. If your pillows are no longer comfortable or don't provide you with the proper support, you should replace them. However, if you're unsure whether your pillow needs to be replaced, you can follow these steps to tell:
- Take your fiber-filled pillow, fold it half and place a book on it.
- If your pillow regains the shape, you don’t need to change because it is still good.
- If it remains half-folded, you should get a new one.
If your memory foam pillows don’t hold their shape and are crumbly, you should also replace them.
2. Know the material
The most important aspect of your pillow is what it's made of. Decide if you prefer something firm like memory foam or Talalay latex, or something fluffy, like down. Keep in mind that some pillow materials, like down, are more expensive, but if you want a less expensive pillow with the same kind of quality, you can buy a pillow that has a combination of materials. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around:
- Their affordability
- Their feeling
- Their ability to support your head and neck
Pillows made with Talalay latex are great for properly supporting for your neck and head, and help you get a great night's sleep. Here are a few reasons why:
- Talalay latex provides "uplifting” support to help keep your neck and head aligned and reduce associated pains.
- It's breathable, keeping you at the perfect temperature while you sleep.
- Talalay latex is hypoallergenic.
3. The Thickness
The fill material of a pillow helps in determining its support level, but the thickness of your pillow is also vital. In the market, you are offered various pillows, which are featured according to their thickness, too. There are some pillows that are more suitable than others based upon your sleeping position. Here are some tips on how to find the perfect pillow for your particular sleeping position:
- If you sleep on your sides, you should have a thicker pillow.
- If you are a stomach sleeper, a thinner pillow is for you
- If you sleep on your back, the right pillow for you will fall somewhere in between thick and thin.
Sometimes, it is the position of the neck that is important for you to get better sleep. While sleeping, your neck should be aligned in a neutral position with your spine. Considering this, you can go for a hybrid pillow that has memory foam at its core and is surrounded by a softer synthetic layer or down. With this hybrid pillow, you get the comfort and support all through the night, in any position. Try to avoid memory foam pillows with double humps.
4. Caring instructions
Before you make a purchase, check the caring instructions on the pillow’s label, and ensure that you are willing to take care of it as recommended. Most of them are machine washable, but may vary in their specific caring instructions, including:
- Some instruct not to wash in front load machines.
- Some can only be dry-cleaned.
- Some allow only spot treating.
You will be able to use your pillow for a long time if you wash it two or three times a year and can keep it safe and clean with the use of a pillow protector.
5. Test the pillow
You always test a mattress before buying it, and in the same manner, you should also test the pillow. Here's how:
- Rest your head on it and see if it feels comfortable.
- If it’s possible, try it for 10 minutes in the store.
- If it’s not possible, test it at home, but don’t remove the plastic wrapping.
- If you are feeling any sort of discomfort, return it.
It’s not necessary that you get the same type of pillow all through your life. There are various health-related changes that may affect the support requirements that you’ll be looking for in a pillow. With time, you may develop:
- Pains and aches
- Weight fluctuations
- Allergies and other problems
Sometimes, the pillow that you’ve been using a long time will no longer provide a feeling of comfort. This means that it’s time to consider something new.
The aforementioned are some of the important factors you should consider before shopping for a body pillow or new pillow. Always remember that if you suffer from chronic neck or back pain and it doesn’t go away even after using a better pillow, do not delay and consult a doctor, because it might be caused by an underlying problem.