In Search of the Perfect Pillow
Getting a good night’s sleep is much easier when you have the right pillow. In fact, the “perfect” pillow can greatly enhance the quality of sleep by maintaining your spine’s alignment and providing the best positioning for your head and neck.
Choosing a Pillow
Pay attention to what feels most comfortable to you and bear in mind:
- Your preferred sleep position. If you sleep on your stomach or back, consider a soft pillow. Side and back sleepers may find a medium firmness to be a good choice. If you sleep exclusively on your side, a firm pillow is best.
- Physical factors. The pillow should comfortably accommodate your shoulder depth, neck length, head size and weight and your perspiration factor.
Using a Pillow
These tips can help you get the most from your pillow:
- Plump daily. To plump or fluff your pillow, grab the corners on the short end and rap it against the bed surface two or three times. Do the same thing to the other end. If your pillow becomes too plump, place it flat on the bed and press down with your forearms from the middle of the pillow outward.
- Wash weekly. Toss your pillow cases and pillow protectors in the wash each week.
- Replace regularly. Assess your pillow’s comfort regularly to make sure it’s still providing the best spine alignment and head and neck positioning. And replace your pillow every two to three years.
Additional Pillow Tips
Some other things to consider include:
- Nighttime movement. You’ll change positions throughout the night, so make sure your pillow can move with you. Many people find down pillows to be more accommodating than foam or pre-shaped pillows.
- Fluff factor. A fluffier pillow provides better cushioning, is longer lasting and allows fresh air to easily travel through it. If you fold a pillow in half and it unfolds on its own, it has a high fluff factor.
- *Body posture. Sleep in an elongated position, not in a ball, to promote a healthy back and do the following:
- For side sleepers: Place the upper arm on your hip or side — or place a pillow under your armpit — to keep your shoulders aligned. Position your pillow to be shoulder-width high, so it fills in the space between the bed and your head. Too low and your head drops down, kinking your neck. Too high and your head is pushed up, which is uncomfortable for your neck and spine.
- For back sleepers: Create a wedge shape with your pillow, with more height and dimension toward the top of your head. This lengthens your neck and forces your chin down, decreasing snoring and providing greater comfort for your lower back.
* These sleep posture tips are provided by Jean Couch, founder of the Balance Center in Palo Alto. To learn more, visit www.balancecenter.com
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