Many of us, including myself, have that one comfy little pillow which can never be shared with someone, even for a day. We take it with us anywhere we travel to and get a good night’s sleep only when our heads fall against this pillow. Seriously, has the pillow cast a spell on us or is there something more to this?
Days start on a brighter note when we wake up fresh after a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well has many strings attached to it and using the right pillow is one among them. Sleeping experts claim that anything that makes you comfortable helps you get a good night’s sleep and your favorite pillow does exactly the same-makes you comfy and positions your head properly. While the positive effects don’t go beyond this, using the wrong (it is not bad pillow but incorrect pillow) pillow can devastate your sleep and land you in health problems too!
Apart from causing neck pain, headache, shoulder and arm numbness, sneezing and wheezing, pillows used past their prime period might contain molds, fungus and dust mites that can contribute to more than 50% of the old pillow’s weight.
How do you choose the right pillow and when do you think it is time to change your pillow?
The general rule is to change your pillow every 12 to 18 months. Maximum is two years after which the pillow must be shelved.
Pillows for Every Type of Sleeper
When the neck is bent in an improper manner for long periods one feels uncomfortable and the main objective of using a pillow is to aid in ‘neck alignment’. Different types of pillows fulfill the needs of different types of sleepers:
For people who are used to sleeping on their back: You need a thin pillow to prevent your head from being thrown too forward.
For people who sleep on their side: You need a firm pillow to make up for the space between your ears and the outside shoulder.
For people who sleep on their stomach: You need the thinnest pillow, almost a flat one. Such people don’t require a pillow and can think about keeping one under the stomach to avoid lower back pain.
Choosing Your Pillow
Market is filled with pillows made from different materials, sizes and shapes. There are even pillows that track your sleeping habits and wake you with music (you pay the fancy price for these), keep you cool (designed specially for people experiencing hot flushes and night sweats), water pillows (help customize density and support), anti-snore pillows and positional pillows (helpful for any sleeper when chosen rightly).
Special pillows (such as your positional pillow or water pillow) can help people ward off heartburn problems. Even sinus problems can be brought down when people sleep with their upper body elevated at an angle.
While most people are behind pillows made of memory foam these days, traditional pillow materials too have not lost their charm. Pillows made of down and feathers go well with people, repel dust mites but might be hot and expensive whereas, pillows made of cotton, wool or synthetic cotton are less expensive but might attract dust might.
Many companies provide false promises that using their pillows can end your snoring problems, sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome or even sleep apnea. Read more on restless leg syndrome from the website www.firsteatright.com. But, truly none of these are possible and the right pillow can only help you sleep well and keep off some of the health problem symptoms and never will they eliminate such problems completely. Also, don’t go to the shop with the mindset that costlier the pillow, better is the comfort level. Most of the time, it is possible to choose a pillow that works just fine without causing a hole in your pocket.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.