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When to Throw Out Your Old Pillow and Choose a New One

by Carolyn Lee Jul 1, 2024

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How to Choose a Pillow and When to Throw Out the Old One

Getting enough quality sleep requires good sleeping conditions. A significant factor contributing to sleeping well is having a pillow to suit your needs. Pillows are crucial in providing quality rest, thus contributing to overall well-being.

What benefits does a pillow provide?

Some benefits a pillow provides include supporting your neck and upper back, allowing you to enjoy better comfort than without a pillow. The human spine is naturally curved, so support for the upper neck and back is crucial in maintaining the proper alignment of these spine areas. While sleeping without adequate support will not negatively affect your sleep; it could result in stiffness in the neck and back.

What should you consider when choosing to purchase a pillow?

When shopping for a pillow, it is essential to consider getting one that provides comfort and supports your neck and upper back. Your sleeping position may require choosing a specific type of pillow to maintain a healthy posture. It would help if you focused on the pillow’s size, material, and shape, as these play a role in the quality of your sleep.

Types of sleeping positions and pillow recommendations.

Side sleeper: People who sleep on their sides tend to elevate their heads farther than with other sleep positions. The pillow you use should compensate for the distance between your head and the mattress for good neck and head support. Try to get a pillow with a high loft (4 to 6 inches thickness) made with a firm to medium fill. Some side sleepers may also benefit from body pillows to support the pelvis and hip.

Back sleeper: If you are a back sleeper, try using a pillow with medium firmness that will support the natural curve of your neck, allowing the head to align with the spine. Pillows packed with materials that conform to pressure, like memory foam, will shape themselves around your head and neck, making them beneficial for a good night’s rest.

Stomach sleepers: If you sleep on your stomach, you might stress your spine, shoulder, and back muscles. However, if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, choose a softer pillow with a lower height. People who sleep half on the stomach and half on their side or with their arms under the torso should try using a body pillow for additional support.     

Other factors that you should consider when purchasing a pillow.

Material (fill): Pillow fillings can include different types of material like latex, memory foam, polyester, feathers, or buckwheat. The material inside a pillow will determine its firmness and loft, which helps decide how much support your neck and shoulders might need. The materials can also impact how well the body regulates your temperature during sleep. If you are sensitive to some materials or have allergies, pay attention to what’s inside the pillow or use a pillow protector to reduce exposure to dust mites or potential allergens.

Size: Your pillow size indicates how much space it takes up when flat on the bed. If you move around a lot while sleeping, choose a larger pillow. A more compact (smaller) pillow works well if you don’t move a lot. You can be creative with various pillow sizes but remember to aim for comfort and support.

Shape: Most pillows typically have a rectangular shape in size to suit the width of mattresses (king, queen, or twin). Cervical or neck pillows aim to fit the neck and head, while longer body pillows offer support for the head down to the hips.

How often should you replace your pillow?

Over time, pillows show wear and tear, including stains and unpleasant smells. Additionally, an old misshapen pillow could cause neck pain. While most pillows can last two years, the materials, frequency of use and whether you use a protective covering over the pillow will impact how long it lasts. Stains, smells, sagging, loss of sleep, sneezing while using the pillow, or one that is no longer supportive are all signs you need to replace it.

Having a great pillow can help improve your quality of sleep. While many options are available, remember to choose a pillow that provides support and comfort. You can use the Guernsey Directory listings to locate home furnishing stores and related businesses for needed products or services.

Sources: The Sleep Doctor, Forbes, Time Magazine, Clearwater Chiropractor, and Casper.