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

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We use them every night, yet how much thought do any of us put into our pillows? Most of us just pick them up at the store and keep using them for many years, unless something gets spilled on them.

The truth is that there are many factors that can influence how beneficial using a pillow will be for your health. Join us for some pillow talk as we discuss the role that pillow shape and composition can play in a restful and healthy night’s sleep.

 

Pillowology

Pillows are designed to support our heads while we sleep. If you’re regularly waking up with neck pain or back pain, there’s a good chance that your pillow isn’t doing its job very well. Some pillows are very soft and give way underneath your head, and others are very firm. Whether you need one or the other will vary depending on your body type. Everyone’s body is different, but with experimentation, you’ll be able to determine the level of firmness in a pillow that fits you best.

While this may sound very mundane and obvious, it’s important to be aware of, because if your pillow doesn’t agree with your body, you probably won’t get quality sleep, which opens you up to all kinds of problems. In addition to lower levels of energy and mental performance, insufficient or poor quality sleep will lead to a weakened immune system, increasing your chances of coming down with a more serious illness. So many things depend on getting a good night’s sleep, so don’t leave it to chance.

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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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Dust Mites: The Truth You May Not Want to Know

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic insects that live in furniture and other fabric materials, including pillows. They don’t pose any real health risk and have very little effect on most people’s lives — but there are exceptions.

If you’ve ever found yourself sneezing or getting irritated eyes after waking up in a dusty room, it could be because you have a dust mite allergy.

Some research suggests that within two years of purchase, up to one third of a pillow’s weight could be dust mites and their droppings. Disturbed yet?

Don’t panic. Replacing your pillows more often and opting for wool bedding materials can reduce this problem in your life, as well as any potential risks associated with flame retardant chemicals.

 

READ ALSO: The Surprising Dangers Of Sleep Deprivation Infographic

 

Look, you spend one third of your life asleep. If you’re going to be spending all that time lying on your bedding, it makes sense to educate yourself and make the healthiest choices possible about it.

Maybe not the nicest pillow talk you’ve ever had, but hey, we’re here to help. Pleasant dreams.

References:

www.bettersleep.org

www.onsafety.cpsc.gov