How to Choose the Right Pillow

How Your Pillow Prevents a Good Night's Sleep

Having trouble sleeping? Even if you have a supportive mattress, here are some reasons your pillow might be to blame for not getting your Zs.

  • You've owned it for a decade: Old and broken-in is something you want in a pair of blue jeans — not a pillow. Old means mold spores and dust mites have had time to move in and multiply, and if you're allergic, congestion, a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing will keep you up. You can wash your pillow, but it should be replaced every year. Or use an allergy cover to double the life of your pillow and prevent dust and mold from moving in.
  • Your head is higher than your heart: If you're a side or belly sleeper and your pillow is too thick, your neck will be cranked up, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as headaches. Propping your head up with too many pillows will cause the same issues. Choose one pillow that allows your head to be in line with your spine.
  • Your pillow makes you snore: If you sound like a bear with a cold when you sleep, it'll not only keep the person you share a bed with awake, you won't get much sleep either. Sleeping on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, which causes that signature vibrating sound. If you must sleep on your back, use a fluffier pillow to prop your head up slightly. Or buy a big body pillow to encourage side sleeping, which can prevent snoring in the first place.
  • Down is the best, right?: While a down pillow can make your bed feel luxurious, if you find that your nose starts to run or you feel congested as soon as you lie down, you might have an allergy to down feathers. There's a quick fix for that — get yourself a down-alternative pillow instead. It feels like down, but won't aggravate your sinuses.
  • You splurged on a memory foam pillow: While foam is great for people with allergies, this synthetic material can trap your body heat, making you feel sweaty and uncomfortable. If you run hot while you sleep, and you prefer a foam pillow, look for brands that have cooling gel on top to prevent overheating.
Source: Thinkstock
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