When people talk about changing their beddings, they often focus on mattresses and bedsheets. Most are aware that mattresses need to be replaced after around ten years of use. Meanwhile, the sheets are typically retired once they become flimsy or damaged by stains.
And then there are the pillows. Strangely enough, changing pillows seems to be getting the least attention. Perhaps, for many folks, simply putting a new pillowcase would make any pillow look and smell brand new. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is a big mistake.
So, when was the last time you replaced your pillows? If you can’t remember, it’s probably a good time to shop for a new set of cushions to support your head when lying on your bed. Truth be told, replacing pillows can be a bit more unpredictable when compared to mattresses and bedsheets. A big part of the decision lies in personal preference, and your choice can range from soft to extra firm pillow.
Replacing Your Pillow Is Crucial
Pillows don’t last forever. Over time, they become worn out. But natural damage isn’t the biggest reason why you need to change pillows. Your head cushion can be packed with dead skin cells, hair, dust, and even oil from your scalp. These can invite mites and other microscopic bugs that can cause allergies.
Moreover, a night of good sleep is important to your well-being, just like regular exercise and a healthy diet. So, if you keep tossing and turning on your bed because your pillow smells bad or some bugs give you the itch, you may become sleep-deprived. Before you know it, you may be suffering from conditions like hypertension, a weak immune system, and even memory gaps due to lack of sleep.
Indeed, an old and tattered pillow can affect not just sleep quality but also your overall health. Ultimately, regularly replacing your old pillows is a good step toward living a healthier life.
The Importance Of Pillow Firmness
When it comes to boosting quality sleep to improve your well-being, replacing old pillows is just part of the story. You can’t just buy any pillow that fits your fancy. There are factors you need to consider when choosing your head cushion.
Other than size, it would help if you know the firmness of your new pillow. The firmness can go from soft, like a cotton-filled cushion, to sturdy, like an extra firm buckwheat hulls pillow. The right firmness provides the comfort you need to attain better sleep.
How To Choose The Right Firmness
It’s true that most people instinctively want softer head cushions when sleeping. Many think that the softer a pillow is, the more conducive it’ll be for a good night’s sleep. But the feel of the pillow in your hands or your body when you press on it doesn’t necessarily translate to comfort in your head and neck areas when you lay down to sleep. Remember, your cushion should provide adequate support for your head, neck, and even spinal column.
So, as you take steps to improve your ability to sleep better, you can’t just pick any pillow. Be picky about the size, material, and, above all, firmness of your head cushion.
When deciding on the compactness or density of your pillow, you can pick from soft, medium, firm, or extra firm pillows. It would be best to choose one that can provide adequate support for your head and neck. Selecting a soft pillow merely because you think it can give you that dreamlike sensation of sleeping in the cloud may not always benefit your health.
Sleep Position And Pillow Firmness: The Not-So-Missing Link
Did you know that your favorite sleeping position can affect how you choose your pillow? When it comes to pillow firmness, you need to consider how you position your body when you sleep. Different sleeping positions can bring varying degrees of pressure on your head, neck, and spine as you sleep.
Using the right pillow can help you avoid injury while you sleep. It’ll also ensure you wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Here are some tips on picking the right pillow firmness based on your favorite sleeping position.
- Sleeping on your stomach – This sleeping position means you’re constantly turning your head to the side so you can breathe. You could risk twisting your neck and wake up with pain or stiffness in that area. Additionally, sleeping on your stomach can add unnecessary pressure to your neck and spine.
That said, stomach sleepers can use soft pillows with low height, preferably a loft of just around two inches. This will provide a cushion without pressing too much on the head and neck.
- Sleeping on your side – If you’re a side sleeper, you can choose a firm pillow with a higher loft, which measures around five inches in height. The goal is to prevent your neck from bending or tilting too much to the side.
Sleeping on your side means your shoulder will create more distance or space between the side of your head and the bed. It would be best if you covered that gap with a thick and, preferably, extra firm pillow to alleviate the pressure on your shoulder, ensuring your neck and spine are correctly aligned.
- Sleeping on your back – It’s the most common sleeping position. If you’re a back sleeper, choosing a pillow with medium firmness and loft should suffice. Your main concern here is to cushion the back of your head and neck against the mattress. A medium firm pillow with a medium height of about three inches will keep your head in the proper position and prevent your neck from being overly tilted upwards while you sleep.
Signs You Need To Get A New Extra Firm Pillow
Knowing that you need to replace your old head cushion is only part of the equation to improve your sleep. It’s also vital to know when you need to make the change.
If you’re eyeing an extra firm pillow, here are signs that you need to get a new one:
Stains And Discoloration
Pillowcases and protectors are essential in keeping pillows clean. But, sometimes, sweat, drool, and other bodily fluids can seep through the fabric, staining the pillow. If you have the habit of eating in bed, you may accidentally spill soda, coffee, or juice on your pillow, too.
No matter how firm your pillow is, washing and drying it may not be enough to remove stains or yellowing. If this is the case, it’s a clear sign that you need a new firm pillow.
Aside from yellowing and stains, the stench is another indication that you need to replace your pillows. Sometimes, even if you use a pillowcase with fabric conditioner, the stink still permeates. If the stench remains even after washing and drying, your pillow may already be overrun by nasty germs inside it.
The odor usually develops over time due to the accumulation of dirt, dust mites, body oil, and drool in your pillow. Getting a new extra firm pillow would be a wise choice.
You’ve Had It For Years
Don’t ever think that you can have your pillow for life. Head cushions or pads have a limited lifespan, depending on the type and make. In general, you should already replace your cushion if you’ve been using it for around two years, especially if it’s made of synthetic materials. Pillows made of feathers or downs can be used for up to five years, provided you regularly wash and maintain them. Meanwhile, extra firm buckwheat pillows may last for decades.
That said, you need to regularly clean and dry them to keep harmful microbes from developing. Whenever you can, replacing old pillows with new ones is always a good idea.
No Longer Supports Your Head And Neck
The primary purpose of a pillow is to provide support for your neck and head. If yours no longer performs that purpose, it’s time to get a new one. New extra firm pillows are much cheaper than spending thousands of dollars on pain medication or chiropractic spinal alignment.
Many people who suffer from frequent stiff neck, back pain, or tension headaches don’t realize that undependable pillows are the root cause of their condition. If you suffer from recurring musculoskeletal issues, you should consider buying a new extra firm pillow.
Allergic Reactions When You Wake Up
As mentioned earlier, your pillow is a hotbed of dust, dead skin cells, dust mites, and allergens. Thus, it’s vital to clean and dry your pillows every six months. But frequent washing, tumbling, and drying could cause the pillow’s fillers to deteriorate. Unfortunately, you really cannot see the inner state of your pillow unless you open it up.
So, if you’re developing sniffles and you start to sneeze a lot, even if it’s not allergy season, maybe your old pillow is what’s triggering your symptoms. Don’t wait for your congestion to exacerbate into sinusitis or a more serious upper respiratory infection. It would be best if you bought a new head pad as soon as you can. Buckwheat pillows are known to be safe for people with asthma and allergies.
Acne Build Up On Your Face
Another problem that can arise from your old and dirty pillow is acne. Thus, it would help if you considered replacing your pillowcases at least twice a month or sooner. The things that cause your pillow to stink may also be responsible for breakouts on your face and body.
So, if you notice pimples and acne popping up on one side of your face or body, even if you just changed your beddings, you may already have a dirty pillow that needs replacing.
Shape And Loft Are Gone
In general, pillows with filling materials are fluffy and plump when new. A pillow’s shape provides the support that helps keep your head, neck, and spine properly aligned. Over time, however, the fluffiness, shape, and loft of the pillow start to change. After a year, you may notice that you need to fluff your pillow several times before sleeping to keep it the way you like it.
If your old pillow is becoming a nuisance, there’s no reason to hold on to it. You need a restful slumber to function at your peak every day, and if your pillow is robbing you of that precious snooze time, you better get a new one.
No More Springiness
Brand new pillows are springy. When you apply pressure on it, you’ll see that it’ll spring back to shape immediately. Most pillow fill materials are resilient so they can withstand weight for months. However, just like most things, fills and foams succumb to daily pressure and force. Soon, your pillow’s springiness will diminish, and its ability to support your head and neck will no longer be adequate.
Before the aches and pain that you experience lead to spine misalignment or frequent neck strains, you must replace your old head cushion. While you’re at it, opt for a new extra firm pillow that can retain shape and springiness a lot longer.
Changing Sleeping Position
As mentioned above, there’s an ideal pillow for every sleeping position. If you noticed that you had changed your preferred sleeping position, it might be a good idea to get new pillows that suit your new sleeping habit.
For example, if you used to be a back sleeper, and now you’re a side sleeper, investing in the right extra firm pillow will give you the proper comfort and support for a good restful sleep. Using your old head cushion might be uncomfortable because it no longer has the proper contours for your new sleeping position.
If you frequently change sleeping positions, the best cushion for you would be an extra firm pillow. This is because it’s more resilient regardless of the sleeping position you prefer. Extra firm pillows also feel comfortable whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach.
Your pillow is key in ensuring quality sleep. Since adequate sleep is crucial in your overall well-being, using the right head cushion or pad can also help improve your health.
When your old pillow is worn out, try to replace it with a new one. An extra firm pillow may be more multifunctional. It’ll give you better support for your head, neck, and spine regardless of your preferred sleeping position. As a result, you have a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep.