By Edeline Anne Goh
Pillows are a staple item of comfort for almost everyone. While there are some people who choose to sleep without a pillow or on a wooden block, the majority of us would rather have a comfortable and supportive space to rest our heads when we go to sleep.
Preference for types of pillows tends to vary widely. Some like fluffy pillows, some like them firm and there are also those who prefer pillows that have a contour.
While it’s great to have access to a wide selection of pillows, it can also be rather confusing! After all, when there’s an almost limitless range to choose from how do you know which one is the best one for you?
WHY DO WE USE A PILLOW?
Before we move into choosing a pillow, let’s start with why we need to use a pillow in the first place. The purpose of a pillow is to support and align your neck, head and upper spine during sleep.
Using the wrong pillow or one that is in bad condition can lead to various health problems. For instance, sleeping on a pillow that is too flat or too soft can cause neck pain, while sleeping on one that is too high can cause backaches.
Also if you don’t have the right pillow, you could end up sleeping in a position that places stress on your spine or is otherwise uncomfortable. This can lead to lack of sleep, which may bring on mood swings and all kinds of health problems.
So, it’s important to choose the right kind of pillow that suits you best. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a pillow is to determine your sleeping position.
If you are unaware of your sleeping position, nudge your partner and ask for a little help.
SIDE SLEEPER – A side sleeper is in need of support especially at the neck and head. Sleeping on the right pillow will help to keep your spine in a natural position. Therefore, choose a pillow that is of medium firmness or more and of moderate height. The pillow should fill up the space between your neck and shoulder. Be sure your head is not tilted too high as it will cause discomfort and possible aches.
STOMACH SLEEPER – Some stomach sleepers opt to sleep without a pillow. However, if you’re not one of them, it is best to choose a low and soft pillow. Remember, your head needs to comfortably rest and be in alignment with your body.
BACK SLEEPER – A back sleeper should aim to sleep with a pillow of medium height or lower and with medium firmness. You should look for a pillow that supports your neck, spine and shoulders. Also, a back sleeper may find extra comfort by placing a pillow underneath the knees as well.
SYNTHETIC OR NATURAL?
As you know, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting pillows. From natural to synthetic, the type of filling inside your pillow depends very much on your personal preference.
Pillows with natural fillings are generally more expensive than those with synthetic fillings but they have longer life spans and can last up to 10 years. The downside is that natural pillow fillings — such as feathers and cotton — may not be suitable for everyone as some people could be sensitive or allergic.
If you’re susceptible to allergies, consider synthetic pillow fillings instead. Look out for synthetic fibres that are hypoallergenic to help to minimise allergens.
Also, make sure you look for pillows that come with an anti-dust mite casing that will help to protect your pillow from dust mites. Synthetic pillows are easier to maintain unlike some natural pillow fillings, which require professional cleaning. However, the life span of synthetic fibre pillows is just a few years and these pillows will eventually clump up or sag.
Whichever you choose — synthetic or natural — remember to take the time to pamper yourself by choosing the right pillow because good sleep is essential for good health. Plus, waking up feeling fresh is definitely a great start to your day!
DO PILLOWS HAVE AN ‘EXPIRY DATE’?
Pillows don’t really have specific expiry dates but here are a few tell-tale signs which indicate that it’s time to replace your pillow:
- Your pillow looks dirty or stained
- Your pillow is torn
- You notice an unpleasant odour
Over time, your pillow will be infested with unhealthy and unwanted particles such as dust, mild dew, fungus, dust mites and dust mite feces, which is why it’s important to replace your pillow regularly.