Your pillow really can make a difference in how you sleep. It’s important to find a pillow that can help you sleep comfortably in a healthy position. This can help improve your breathing during sleep and make it easier to shift to or maintain a sleeping position that reduces snoring and sleep apnea severity.
Do You Need to Replace Your Pillow?
There are some industry guidelines out there that suggest you regularly replace your pillows on a certain timeframe. These are as short as replacing a pillow every 18 months. However, it’s more important to pay attention to the functional characteristics of your pillow and replace a pillow when it no longer serves.
The primary method to judge whether you need to replace your pillow or not is whether you are still sleeping comfortably. If you’re not sleeping comfortably anymore, it may be time to replace your pillow.
You may also check to see if it is still ventilating well enough. Crush the pillow and see if it puffs up again or fold it in half and see if it straightens itself up. If it doesn’t puff or unfold, it’s time to consider getting a new pillow. Pull off the pillow cover and look for stains. See if it smells.If it is covered with stains and has a perceptible odor, it’s time to replace the pillow.
Sleep Position Matters
Consider your sleep position. The key is that whatever position you sleep in, the pillow should hold your neck straight. If you tend to sleep on your back, the pillow should cradle your head, allowing it to sink in just enough so it isn’t pushed forward or doesn’t loll backward. If you sleep on your side, you’ll probably want a firmer pillow that supports your head at neck level and stays clear of your breathing space in front of your mouth.
On the other hand, if you sleep on your stomach, you want a thin pillow or none at all, and perhaps you should consider placing a pillow under your stomach for support.
Getting the Right Fill
The most common fill materials are down, polyester fibers, and foam. However, wool, cotton, and latex are also available. The type of fill will determine the supportiveness and comfort of the pillow. For the most part, finding a good fill material is a very personal decision–try resting on a few in the store before you decide to buy. When trying out different pillows, be aware of any allergic response you have to materials. Also see if the pillows give off any odor initially, as this could be a sign of chemical outgassing. This isn’t just an issue with synthetic materials, it might also be due to cleaning or processing of natural materials.
And don’t forget to check pillows for heat retention. Rest on the pillow for a few seconds, then lift your head up and feel how warm the spot is. A pillow that retains more heat will lead to sweatier nights.
Some pillow manufacturers promote numbers like “fill power” to convince you that their pillows are higher quality and will last for longer. Don’t believe these claims unless the manufacturer backs them up with a good warranty or numerous customer reviews support the claim.
Size and Shape
The most important aspect of the size and shape for a pillow is whether it properly supports your head and neck in your chosen sleep posture. It’s not a bad idea to have someone come with you to evaluate your posture when you try out new pillows. Ideally, your spine should be more or less straight.
Sometimes shaped pillows can be very helpful. They can encourage you to choose a specific sleep position, which can be helpful if you’re trying to sleep on your side to reduce the severity of snoring or sleep apnea. However, be aware that shaped pillows may be less flexible (both literally or figuratively) for choosing different sleeping positions. If you want to be able to shift between sleeping positions, a shaped pillow might not be right for you.
More Than One Pillow?
It’s not unusual for people to feel differently about their pillows on different days. If this is you, consider getting multiple pillows for different nights. Decorative pillowcases or shams can be used to put multiple pillows on the bed without having it seem incongruous. That way, you’ll always have your pillow options ready at hand and can pick the right one to match your mood.
Don’t Believe Snoring Treatment Claims
Although it’s true that sleeping position influences your snoring, anti-snoring treatment pillows are rarely as effective as they claim, and for most people they make little difference. Unless your doctor prescribes a specific pillow, don’t count on therapeutic pillows to justify the investment.
If you are looking for effective, comfortable, and convenient snoring treatment, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with us at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center and visit our Omaha office.