The Purpose of Pillows
There are some components of a well-made bed that are associated with decor, and others that are associate with a good night’s sleep. There are obvious ones like sheets and comforters that provide warmth and a sense of security and protection. Other accoutrements such as bed-skirts or dust ruffles have a more practical purpose; namely to deflect dust particles that often gather in the space underneath the bed.
Do pillows have a real purpose in the overall sleep equation, or are they just another decorative touch? Do you even need a pillow to experience rest-full sleep? The answer may surprise you.
Pillows were designed to keep your head elevated and your neck in a neutral position. Together, you can sleep much more soundly. They have a considerable effect on the quality of sleep you get, and directly affect how rested and alert you feel in the morning.
Without a pillow, depending on how you sleep, you may wake up with head, neck, or back aches as well as temporary numbness to certain extremities. Pillows are designed to keep your spine straight while you sleep so without them there can be some serious discomfort and sleep problems.
Depending on what position you typically fall asleep in, you might need a particular type of pillow. For those of you who like to sleep on your back, you will probably prefer a pillow that is a bit thinner than normal since your neck doesn’t need much elevation to keep your back straight. For the side sleepers out there, you will probably need a thicker, firmer pillow since there is plenty of room needed to keep your head in the proper position. If you are someone who sleeps on their stomach, you probably need a very thin pillow or no pillow at all. The position we tend to doze off in is important to consider when shopping for the right pillow since it may be the difference between a normal nights sleep and a great nights sleep.
There are a wide variety of pillow types, the difference between them being the material with which they are stuffed. For back-sleepers the best choices are memory foam, kapok (from the soft fibers of the ceiba tree), or polyester fiberfill due to their softness and lack of resistance. There are many options for those who prefer to sleep on their side such as natural latex, organic wool, buckwheat as well as memory foam and polyester fiberfill since all of which are thick or supportive enough to keep your head properly elevated. Down feather or organic cotton pillows are best suited for stomach sleepers since they are very maleable and soft.
It is a good idea to wash you pillow case often and replace your pillow at least once every two years. Pillows will begin to gather all kinds of nasty things like mildew, dust mites, and mold which can lead to allergic reactions and discomfort if they go unwashed and do not get replaced. If you are sleeping on an old pillow, or even just a pillow that isn’t right for your sleeping style, you may be suffering from minor exhaustion.
Next time you are shopping for a pillow, think twice before just pulling one at random off of the shelf. Consider how you prefer to sleep and make an informed decision so you can optimize the quality of sleep you are getting nightly. Besides a comfortable mattress, a pillow that meets your particular needs can be the best tool to be as rested as you can be.