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Pillow Guide: Better Sleep Health by Jesse Bluma

Pillow Guide:  Better Sleep Health

I recently purchased a set of Serta Gel-Memory Foam Pillows.  It’s my first time sleeping on this type of pillow and so far I like the difference.  It’s easy to think we can walk into a store, grab a new pillow, throw it in our cart, and move on.  Good sleep is essential and there is more to pillow shopping than we first might think.  

Better, deeper sleep is often dependent upon having the right pillow in the right position.    If we get a good night’s sleep that means entering a state of reduced consciousness to rejuvenate our body systems, restore our wounds, encourage brain development, and process memories.  As we sleep we go through four or five REM (rapid eye movement) cycles.  Uncomfortable sleep can affect the amount and quality of sleep we get over night.  

Tossing, turning, and feeling tired after waking up may mean other factors are at play.  The Mayo Clinic recommends 1.  Sticking to a sleep schedule.  2.  Eating and drinking in a healthy manner.  Don’t over eat.  Don’t ingest nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol within hours before bedtime (Of course we can throw drugs into that as well).  3.  Create bedtime rituals of taking a warm shower and not watching television or using an electronic devices.  4.  Adjust the temperature and lighting to meet your needs.  The right bed and pillow also go a long way in making you comfortable.  5.  Limit naps during the day to 10 minutes so you do not disrupt your sleep cycle.  6.  Exercise is key to the promotion of good sleep, although do no work out close to bedtime as it will energize your body.  7.  Take care of your stress.  Living a good life, being organizes, and having healthy habits of mind are important.  Regular trouble sleeping means it is probably time to call your doctor to identify the cause and possible treatments.  

Let’s take a look at number 4.  Getting comfortable.  Some of the best sleep you can have is when your neck is in proper alignment and your pillow keeps it so during the night.  If you sleep on your stomach you may wish to use a soft pillow to allow your head to adjust to the right height.  If you sleep on your back look for a pillow with the right firmness to support your head, neck, and shoulders.  If you sleep on your side you may want to use a softer pillow for better cushioning or a more firm pillow if you feel better with your head and neck well supported.

Pillows:  Several options exist and it may be best to experiment with a couple of them to see what is best for you.  Remember to save the care instructions for your pillows and follow them for best results.  Also, washing your pillow at least once a year is important to cleanliness and allergies.  Read the instructions to see if you may toss your pillow in the washing machine or take it to a dry cleaners.  Many feather and down pillows need to be dry cleaned.  Polyester pillows can usually go into a washing machine on the gentle cycle.  Memory foam can be cleaned in several ways.  Read the directions.  This may include vacuuming, using a wash cloth and a small amount of dishwashing liquid and towel drying, and steam cleaning.  Most buckwheat pillows are not machine washable.  Remember too use pillow cases to protect your pillows from wear and tear.  Important too is to utilize allergy and dust mite covers.  It will be time to replace a pillow when it is no longer supportive and has lost its shape.  If you are folding your pillow in half for support that probably means it is time for a new one.    

1.  Fill:  These pillows are stuffed with feathers, down (insulation under the feathers of an animal), and sometimes a mix of each.  Fill pillows tend to conform to the head and neck, may feel like a cloud, hold heat, and are sometimes considered to be the best in luxury.  Feather and down pillows may be more expensive, although with proper care and fluffing, may last for several years.  Individuals with allergies tend to avoid these pillows; however, some fill pillows are processed to be “hypoallergenic”.  You may or may not wish to risk the purchase if you have allergies.  Some feather and down pillows may be cleaned in a washing machine, others need to be dry cleaned.   

2.  Polyester:  These pillows are filled with polyester or clusters of polyester.  Sometimes these are sold as the most affordable, soft, and hypoallergenic.  Although these pillows tend not to conform well to the head and neck.  

3.  Memory Foam and Gel-memory Foam:  These pillows form to the head and neck, provide good extra support for the head and neck, and tend to be more firm than feather, down, and polyester.  Memory foam or a combination Gel-memory foam will contour to the head and neck, or body if you purchase a body pillow.  These pillows are manufactured in many sizes and shapes, designed to encourage better comfort for those with pain and discomfort.  The foam material will hold heat, those with a combination of materials will allow for more air flow.  Memory foam and gel-memory foam pillows have a long life with proper care.  These pillows may last you years.  

4.  Buckwheat hull:  These pillows gained popularity in Japan and have become well liked across the globe.  Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and is a fruit seed.  The hull of the seed is used in the filling of these pillows.  The buckwheat hulls conform to the head, neck, and body with even distribution.  These pillows provide firm support, are make of a natural product, and have great durability.  Those are the pros.  One con--some people may not like the sound buckwheat makes with movement.  

5.  Water:  These pillows are manufactured with a pouch that is then filled with water.  Many people claim it reduces their neck pain.  Similar to a water bed, water pillows provide adjustability, moulding support, and softness.  Additionally, as you fill the pillow with water you are able to adjust it to the firmness or your liking.    

Let’s talk money.  Pillows come in a wide range of prices.  You could spend $10 or $10,000 on pillows.  Your health and wellness is a top priority.  Before spending a good chunk of money every day for someone else to make your lunch, make your own lunch and buy a good quality pillow.  No matter if you are in the top 1% of wage earners or bottom 1% look for sales, use a coupon, and shop around.  When you find the right pillow at the right price buy two or three or four for your entire bed.

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