Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
After you come back home in the evening, the first thing on your mind in that groggy weary mood is to seek solace, peace and some rest. You shower and sip a cup of tea probably, and head to the bedroom for a short nap. Every inch of your body aches and as you lay your head on the pillow, the senses collapse automatically and you’re ushered into deep slumber. Does this always happen? The answer is ‘NO’.
There could be various reasons for not getting that perfect alpha state of sleep, and one of them could be your pillow. This is why researchers from across the globe emphasise the importance of ‘pillow changes’, not just for sound sleep but for health reasons too.
Here’s what happens when we do not change our pillows often
Old pillows are home to bacteria and dust mites
Shocked? Don’t be! Old pillows are indeed prime real estate for bacteria and dust mites. Dirt, pollution, grime and then the dust indoors and the dander around, should you have pets jumping about- reasons enough for house dust mites and microbes to set shop on those old pillows. If you still do sleep on old pillows, one must ensure that the linens and covers are washed in warm water as regularly as possible, since allergens find it tough to find a way out through the tight weave of the pillow covers and cases. Unintentional inhaling dust and dander could lead to indoor allergies; asthma for example!
You could suffer from neck pain and back aches
In the worst case scenarios, if you’ve been sleeping on flattened and yellowish hued pillows (old pillows), chances are you would have experienced back pain and other aches, which affect your life every day. Our neck needs support when we sleep, and if the pillow isn’t supporting the neck quite well, chances are the neck aches persist for a longer time. You can invite all kinds of spine and neck trouble from tingling sensations to numbness just by using old pillows which don’t offer the right support.
Should you throw or replace your pillows now?
Here are a couple of clues that tell you if the pillow needs replacement or not.
- Does it look or feel the way it did when you first bought it?
- Do you see it as an unshapely object, with stains and visible dirt?
- Do you have to keep adjusting the pillow for comfort?
- Do you have frozen neck issues, sore back and ankles or knees when you wake up the next morning; regular occurrence.
- Does an unpleasant whiff greet your nostrils each time you lay your head on the pillow?
If the answer to any of the five questions above was a YES, chances are your pillows are contaminated with a third of its weight infested with dirt, grime, house mites, dust and bugs.
What’s a perfect pillow?
There’s no firm one-line answer to this. You just have to try a few (or many) until you find the one that suits your needs and lifestyle habits. Here’s what I recommend:
Polyester pillows, also known as microfiber or cluster fill are the most inexpensive and common types of pillows available in the market. They are machine washable and must be replaced once in every one or two years.
Latex pillows are available in two broad varieties: foam core and granulated form. They are excellent for comfort and sleep quality and last anywhere between fifteen to twenty years. Ranging tad bit on the expensive side, these pillows might not breathe as easy as others, but latex ones are best for significant head and neck support.
Memory foams are the ones that take the shape of your head and neck. Mostly recommended to people with acute neck and back pain, memory foam pillows last for fifteen to twenty years and are an apt choice for pregnant women.
Feather pillows are known for their plush factor. They last longer than polyester, however, they do not offer proper support.
Waterflow pillows are the latest ‘hyped’ pillows. They are hypoallergic, soft and have a support of water pouch, which makes them actually effective in treating discomfort in the neck.
Prevention is certainly better than cure.
If you aren’t going to replace your pillows anytime soon, here’s what you can do.
- Place them in a hot dryer each week to curb the growth of mites and microbes.
- Never sleep with wet hair on your pillow; dirty wet places are where bacteria thrive.
- Dust mite casings for pillows should be used; high thread count ones.
- If possible, buy a dehumidifier for the bedroom.
- Choose a pillow, which wouldn’t allow mites to thrive.
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