Replacing your pillow isn’t just about maintaining good hygiene. Along with your mattress, your pillow plays an important role in maintaining proper spinal alignment while you sleep.
Like a mattress, people put little or no value on a pillow in creating a great night’s sleep. Your head needs a bed too.
By regularly replacing your pillows, you get to keep on enjoying a restful night’s sleep and reduce the risk of neck pain.
Why is it so important to replace your pillow?
Every night as you sleep, your body sheds skin, hair, and body oil that your pillow absorbs. The buildup of these materials can cause your pillow to smell, although washing it regularly will prevent that.
Over time these conditions will naturally attract dust mites to grow in your pillow. These tiny creatures add extra weight to your pillow and impair its ability to stay supportive long-term. Dust mites are not dangerous, but for people with allergies, dust mites can worsen their symptoms to the extent that they interfere with their sleep.
Even if you address the dust mite problem with regular washing, your pillow can’t last forever.
It’s believed that for every inch difference in the loft of your pillow, you are putting 20 pounds of pressure on your neck. People come in all different shapes and size and we all sleep in different positions. A properly fitted pillow works together with your mattress to significantly improve and maintain posture alignment and sleep comfort.
Signs you should replace your pillow
You’ll know it’s time to replace your pillow if you notice any of the following:
- There are noticeable lumps in the foam or filler materials
- There are noticeable, permanent stains from body sweat and oil
- You wake up with aches and pains, particularly in your neck or shoulders
- You wake up tired (due to the above aches and pains interrupting your sleep)
- You wake up with headaches or are developing tension headaches
- You wake up sneezing from the dust mites
- You constantly have to re fluff your pillow to get comfortable (feather pillows only)
- If you fold your pillow in half, it stays that way instead of expanding back out (feather pillows only)
Other factors that can affect the longevity of your pillow include health conditions like allergies, or if you’ve recently changed sleeping positions.
For example, if you’ve switched from sleeping on your side to your back, you’ll need a new pillow with a different height. Different sleeping positions require different heights to keep the spine, neck, and head aligned.
So how often should you change your pillow?
Ideally a less expensive pillow should be changed roughly every 6 months while better constructed pillows offering optimum support have a lifespan of 18-24 months.
So before going shopping, the first step is to identify which position you sleep most in.
Stomach sleepers should try sleeping without a pillow or depending on the individual a very thin pillow. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended as it puts significant stress on the lower back.
Measure the gap from the ear to the end of your shoulder and depending on your size and weight this will determine the thickness and firmness you require.
For better spine alignment you can also try placing a pillow between your knees
If you find yourself sleeping on your back, you should consider a thinner pillow. This will ensure your neck is not being tilted too far forward.
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