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Article  |  Pillow Talk
Ah, the frustration of finding the perfect pillow!  Have you found yours, yet?  It is
important to remember that a pillow should be designed to help maintain and
restore your posture while you sleep.  The older the pillow, the less likely it still has
enough structure left to properly support you while sleeping.  How old your pillow is
really does matter.  While everyone has their favorite type or shape of pillow, most
of us have no idea when the last time we actually replaced our pillows was.  Some
people will get new pillows if they move or purchase a new bed or bedding set, but
for most of us, those old faithful nighttime companions are outlasting almost every
other item in the room.
The health consequences that can arise from holding on too long to your cushy friend can span from slightly
cringe-worthy to all out gag-inducing. Pillows will collect body oils and skin flakes over time, even when covered
by pillow cases, which in turn lead to the build up of dust mites.  When those pesky dust mites combine with the
oils from perspiration and sleepy drool you end up with a breeding ground for bacteria, mildew and even mold.  I
know that was gross, but it is truly important to ask yourself how old the pillow your sleeping with really is.  
Realize the average department store pillow only lasts from twelve to eighteen months before losing its healthy
support factor.
There are some simple methods you can employ to determining if your pillow’s healthy.  If you own a polyester or
fiber-fill pillow, fold it in half and then place a shoe on the top.  If the pillow is able to unfold and knock the shoe off,
then it still has life left in it.  If however, the pillow is unable to unfold and the shoe is able to hold it in place, then it
is time to go shopping for a replacement.  With a feather or down pillow the quality test is a little different.  You
have to fold this type of pillow in half and squeeze out as much air as you can, making it as flat as possible.  No
shoe necessary this time; just release and observe.  When you release the pressure, the pillow should unfold
and return to its normal shape and size on its own right away.  If not and it just lies there, then it is a dead pillow.  
It is time to put it out of its misery and go shopping for a new one.
Pillows are often unappreciated and therefore not enough importance is placed on them.  That is kind of ironic
since you place your head on one every night.  So, what exactly is the purpose of your pillow?  The answer to that
is easy.  A good pillow provides structural support for the neck, including support for muscles, ligaments, tendons
and even the nervous system!  The amount and type of support provided depends on your preferred sleeping
position, which will be the subject of a future article.  Usually someone who sleeps on their side will need and
desire a different pillow than someone who sleeps on their stomach or back.  Ultimately a quality pillow provides
us with a comfortable head and neck position that can help ensure a good night sleep and allow the beneficial
effects of structural support to be maximized.
How you sleep determines what you will want to look for in a new pillow.  I know that there are a huge variety of
pillows on the market, some having an enormous price tag and others that tout special features.  We have all
seen the funny shaped pillows with grooves and bumps or pillows made from materials such as memory foam
and even pillows filled with air or water.  Although I cannot explain every pillow type or model of pillow in this
space I will tell you that shape and fill factor are the two most important concepts to keep in mind while
determining the right choice for you and your family.  These two pillow qualities work together to provide the
support needed to prop up the neck and head so that the spine stays aligned.
Overall, think about these two simple ideas as you lie down for your next good night’s sleep.  An old pillow does
not provide the support you need.  And second, the average adult spends eight hours a night sleeping.  That
means the average adult spends a third of their life sleeping.  People often get frugal when buying a new quality
pillow, but just think about how much time that is!  Most people walk or run far less than eight hours a day and will
not hesitate to spend large amounts of money on a new pair of shoes that will only last eight months!  Good
pillows last for years and can make the difference between waking up sore, achy and tired; or waking up rested,
energized and free from neck pain.  The first step is go to the store and engage in some pillow talk.  Ultimately,
the better you sleep, the better you feel and operate!
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