When you become a parent, sleep pretty much goes out the window – you’re up at all hours of the night feeding and soothing your newborn, so it’s understandable that you will be tired. But did you know that your pillow could also contribute to this tiredness?
Age is not just a number
If you’re waking up tired every morning with a nagging neck ache, chances are you might need a new pillow. If your pillow is older than 18 months, you should get a new one.
Sleeping posture is key to sleeping comfort. According to the pillow experts at Linen Drawer, your spine and head should be aligned when you sleep.
Do this test to see if you need a new pillow:
Drape your natural fill (down or feathers, wool, etc) over your arm, if it hangs there limply, it’s time for a new one. Your synthetic fill (microfibre) pillow should spring back if folded and be its original shape. If it doesn’t, it’s time for a new one. Also smell your pillow. If it smells, it’s time to replace it.
Does your mattress match your pillow?
Differing firmness of mattress require the correct type of pillow to support your body. A firmer mattress will need a firmer pillow as your body doesn’t ‘sink’ into the mattress. A softer mattress will require a softer pillow, as your body ‘sinks into’ the mattress and a softer pillow is able to provide enough neck support.
The position you sleep in most also plays a role
What position do you favour most when asleep? Back, side and stomach sleepers all require different types of pillows.
The most important factor to consider is sleeping position:
- Back sleepers need neck support, so generally a firmer pillow which aligns your head and spine is best.
- Stomach sleepers need a thin soft pillow, as tilting the head on a firm pillow will throw your head/spine alignment out.
- Side sleepers need a thicker, firmer pillow, which aligns the head and supports the area between your neck and shoulders.
- Mixed sleepers need a medium pillow that can manipulate into the support you need for whatever position you prefer.
But at the end of the day, the best pillow is the one that is right for you.
What type of pillows are there?
- DOWN/FEATHERS: light and soft, made from either goose or duck down. Look for certification that the down is sourced sustainably. Most of these pillows aren’t pure down, but a mixture of down and small feathers. Look at the percentage – higher feather count will give you a firmer pillow, higher down count will give you a softer pillow. Good quality pillows are expensive – you get what you pay for, but worth it, as they are washable and durable.
- SYNTHETIC: usually made from polyester, making them washable and hypo-allergenic. Look for a pillow that has a cotton cover, in the firmness you require. Some pillows have a zipper opening for adding or subtracting fill – to ensure perfect sleeping comfort. The polyester is usually ‘shaped’ spirals or little puffs that mimic down. Again, quality pillows are not cheap.
- FOAMS: polyfoam and memory foam are also used as pillow fills. These can be used in sheet form, or in chips, or as a combination. Hypo-allergenic and comfortable, these pillows cannot be washed successfully.
- LATEX: derived from rubber, a natural product. Provides great support, long lasting. Natural latex is moisture absorbent, heat regulating, and is naturally anti-mildew or mould.
- WOOL: these are quite firm, speciality pillows that are excellent temperature regulators – your pillow will be cool, even if you have a warm head. Naturally hypoallergenic.
- BUCKWHEAT: provides a firm, yet contouring sleep surface. Best for side and back sleepers, it is prescribed for those with neck pain relief. Although buckwheat is a natural fill, it needs to be replaced regularly, and the pillow case washed. Exceptionally cool sleeping pillow.
- KAPOK: is extremely soft and breathable. It is often mixed with memory foams and polyester fibres. It is a good plant-based alternative to down, but kapok pillows are firmer than down and not so mouldable. Very tricky to wash, as kapok is naturally buoyant.
- SILK: very luxurious and soft, silk is a naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-allergy product. Pillows filled with silk are very soft, mould well to your body and cool to sleep on. Cannot be washed, however, can be aired and sunned to restore loft.
- COTTON: biodegradable cotton makes a soft feeling, yet firm sleeping pillow. It cannot be easily adjusted/moulded so might be only suitable for back sleepers. Often blended with microfibre, which improves the clumping of the filling, washing is not recommended, as it could become mouldy if not dried completely.
- COOLING GELS: look out for memory foam pillows with a layer of cooling gel – this ensures that the natural property of memory foam, warming/heat holding, is countered by the cooling gel layer. This is helpful if you are a warm sleeper, as your pillow always feels cool.
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