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After planning your exotic vacation for months, the big day has finally arrived. You’ve finished packing and now it’s time to leave the house and head to the airport. After a long flight with a couple of connections, you arrive at your hotel utterly exhausted. Tomorrow, you’ll start exploring the sights but tonight’s for recharging the batteries. After getting in bed, you quickly realize that none of the pillows the hotel has provided you with are comfortable. They just don’t feel like the pillow you use at home. What was supposed to be a restful night has turned into one of tossing-and-turning. We’ve all been there.

When we think of quality sleep, our mattresses and optimal sleeping conditions often come to mind. While each person is different, the pillow you use can have a significant impact on your ability to get those Zs that help you feel rested and refreshed the next day. In this blog post, we’ll help you decide how to choose the best pillow for your needs.  

What impact does your choice of pillow make?

A pillow is supposed to make you feel comfortable and help you maintain the correct sleeping posture. Using the wrong pillow for your needs can make it more difficult to fall asleep—leading to grogginess the next morning. It can also lead to neck or back pain, another unwanted result. Lastly, if you suffer from allergies, your choice of pillow can have an impact on your symptoms. We’ll touch on this in more detail later.

One of the keys to finding the right pillow for yourself is choosing one that’s most well-suited for your sleeping position.

Based on my sleeping position, what type of pillow should I buy?

There are many types of sleeping positions but you’ll likely fall into one of these camps: you sleep on your back, you sleep on your stomach, you sleep on your side, or you switch it up throughout the night. We recommend a different type of pillow for each sleeping position.

Back Sleeper

If you sleep on your back, choose a medium-thick pillow. If it’s too thick, it will push your head too far forward. If it’s too soft, it’ll push your head too far back. A medium-thick pillow allows your neck and spine to be aligned while you sleep.

Stomach Sleeper

Sleeping on your stomach can put a lot of stress on your lower back. To reduce the potential for lower back pain, you should use a really thin pillow or no pillow at all. It’s all about comfort. Some people can’t sleep comfortably with no pillow at all. As a stomach sleeper, your pillow elevates your head a bit which can put stress on your back. A thin pillow only elevates your head slightly, vastly alleviating the stress that a thicker pillow would put on your back in this sleeping position.

Side Sleeper

Side Sleeper

If you sleep on your side, you’ll need a firmer pillow than a back or stomach sleeper will. A firm pillow provides comfort by filling in the distance between your ear and your outside shoulder. It can also help prevent neck pain because if your ear is too close or too far away from the neck, it can cause strain.

Mixed Sleeper

If your typical night consists of a combination of sleeping on your back, stomach, and side—you need a versatile pillow. An all-around pillow is not too soft and not too firm. Medium density helps provide proper support for all sleeping positions even though it may not be the optimal pillow for each individual sleeping position.

How often should I replace my pillow?

A year? A year and a half? Two years? Five years? How often you need to replace your pillow is dependent upon its quality, how often you use it, and several other factors. While there’s no magic number, there is a quick test you can perform to find out if it’s time to visit the store and buy a new pillow. Fold your pillow in half. Place a shoe or an object of comparable weight on top of the pillow. Now let go of the folded pillow. Your pillow should regain its original shape— flinging the shoe (or object) in the process. If it doesn’t, that means you need a new pillow! If you suffer from allergies, we don’t recommend using a shoe as bringing one into your bedroom can help spread pollen throughout your home. Take your shoes off immediately after entering your house instead and try another comparable object to test your pillow quality.

While we won’t cover it here, the material that your pillow is made out of can also have an impact on your quality of sleep. lists some of the most popular pillow fillings and their pros and cons. We will make one point, though. If you suffer from allergies, consider investing in a hypoallergenic pillow. Unlike other types of pillows, a hypoallergenic pillow is designed to prevent the build-up of dust mites and other allergens. The symptoms that allergy sufferers experience can have an impact on getting a good night’s rest so a hypoallergenic pillow is one way to create comfortable sleeping conditions. Even if you’re away from home, many hotels offer hypoallergenic pillows if you request them.    

Don’t lose sight of the fact that these are general tips. Each person is different so what makes you comfortable may not fit in nicely with the norm. It’s all about creating the best possible sleeping conditions for yourself. We hope that these tips give you what you need to make an informed decision when choosing the right pillow for your needs. At the very least, you now have the ammunition you need to call the front desk at your hotel and ask for the proper accommodations. “How can we help you?” “I’m calling from room 502. All of the pillows in my room are thick ones. I’m a stomach sleeper. Do y’all have any thin ones?”

Struggling with sleep apnea, snoring, or another sleep condition? We’ve got plenty of options for you. Take back your sleep (so you wake up refreshed with no cricks in your neck). Discuss how your pillow choice can affect your sleep with Dr. Pasha and his team. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!

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