The Perfect Pillow

An important part of every night’s sleep is a good pillow. Having the correct pillow allows you to rest comfortably and prevents aches and pains in the neck and back. Everyone has different preferences about whether or not a pillow should be soft or firm, but there are a few other characteristics that need to be considered when purchasing a new pillow. Type of material, ease of care, allergy resistance, and resilience are just a few factors that need to be considered when purchasing a pillow.

Cotton Pillows

Cotton pillows are usually easy to machine wash and dry. They also are resistant to allergens. However, over time, they may lose their shape faster than other materials. If quick and easy care is important to you, cotton may be the best choice.

Buckwheat Pillows

One surprising pillow fill material is buckwheat. Buckwheat hulls offer a firm support and great air flow to prevent the build-up of heat against your head. Very few people are allergic to buckwheat and they usually do not attract dust mites. Another advantage to buckwheat pillows is that they are easily customizable. You can remove or add buckwheat hulls to create a pillow that matches your desired height and firmness.  According buckwheat pillows can be placed in the freezer before going to sleep, offering warm climate sleepers added relief from the heat. Buckwheat is also very sustainable and eco-friendly.  There is one downside to the buckwheat pillow; the shifting of the material may disturb the sleep of very light sleepers. If you waken easily, you may want to consider a different type of material. See this post for more about buckwheat pillows.

Down Pillows

Down and feather pillows are incredibly soft and fluffy. They also allow for good air flow and cooler temperatures around the head.  Many people enjoy the comfort of a pillow made of soft down. Unfortunately, down pillows are often tough on people with allergies.  Down feathers themselves are highly allergenic, as well as  the dust mites they can attract. However, there are hypo-allergenic down pillows available. Another advantage to down pillows is their long life. Down seems to hold up better over time than other materials, according to Consumer Research.

Wool Pillows

A wool pillow is another all-natural material that offers support and comfort. Wool wicks away moisture, which prevents bacteria and other allergen build-ups. It also offers temperature regulation around your head.

Pillow Height and Support

No matter what type of filling you choose, be sure to choose a pillow that has the height and support that is right for the way you sleep. WebMD quotes Kammi Bernard, PT, a physical therapist at the Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, saying “The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a ‘neutral alignment,’ meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward.” You will need to take into account whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach, and find a height of pillow that keeps your head in “neutral alignment” depending on your sleep position.

When you find the perfect pillow, you will get an excellent night sleep, reduce neck and back pain, and avoid potential allergens.


Photo “seven pillows” courtesy of Joelk75

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