As massage therapists, we see lots of neck, shoulder and upper back issues–many of which can be worsened by incorrect sleep posture. That favorite pillow that keeps you company each night may actually be adding to your misery.
The average pillow has a lifespan of a little less than 1 year, and there are more reasons than you might imagine why you should replace your pillows right now!
1 Pillows lose their fluff. Whether you have foam or feathers, the internal structure of a pillow degrades over time. The pillow becomes flat and needs constant fluffing to keep support. A flat pillow can contribute to sleep apnea, snoring, headaches, back pain, neck cramps and poor posture.
2 Pillows get gross. Even if you have a zippered pillow cover, your pillow picks up all sort of non-hygienic things over time. Just like changing out your toothbrush (you DO change your toothbrush periodically, right?), your pillow can become a breeding ground for some really nasty bacteria.
3 You will breathe better with a new pillow. Roughly 20 percent of people have allergies, about two thirds of those may be allergic to the types of dust mites that congregate indoors–as in your bedroom–as in on your pillow. Unlike allergens like cat dander, the proteins that trigger reactions to dust mites aren’t airborne, so symptoms that are particularly strong in the morning are a good sign it might be your pillow. While dust mites don’t carry disease, you really don’t want to sleep with a few hundred thousand of them.
When you shop for a pillow, concentrate on finding one that fills the gap between your head and shoulders when you lie down. Stomach and back sleepers need thinner pillows than side sleepers. The choice of down, foam (latex or memory) or gel filling is entirely up to personal preference. Whichever feels right, probably is.
Need a specific recommendation? Talk with your massage therapist, we’ll be happy to help!