Pillow Talk: Picking The Right Pillow For A Good Night’s Sleep

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The Type of Pillow Matters

Old fashioned pillows are stuffed with feathers like goose down. While they can be very comfortable, they’re also somewhat pricey nowadays. They’ll create a terrible mess if the pillow is torn open, so most people go with pillows made with cotton stuffing or some synthetic material.

Most of these cheaper mass-produced pillows are made with flame retardant chemicals in the fabric or other materials in the pillow. Polyurethane foam pillows in particular contain high amounts of flame retardants because of how flammable polyurethane is. Most modern mattresses and many other types of furniture sold in the United States also contain flame retardants.

While this is certainly a benefit in the event of a fire, some research suggests that these chemicals come with their own set of risks. Some of these chemicals have toxic properties. According to a study at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they can also be linked to an increase risk of cancer.

Their study focused on firefighters who developed cancer, and who were more frequently exposed to flame-retardant chemicals in the course of their occupation. While flame retardants will protect you to some extent in the event of a fire, bedding materials which are treated with them can still burn and release toxic fumes. Firefighters breathe in those fumes, and this could explain the higher-than-average levels of respiratory, oral and other forms of cancer among those in the study.

As an alternative, try using wool pillows, since wool has natural flame-resistant qualities and doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals. Wool has the additional benefit of naturally repelling dust mites, which brings us to our next point.

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