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How To Choose The Right Pillow

Different sleeping habits require different levels of support from a pillow.

Finding the perfect pillow is one of life?s golden moments - you?ll know when you find it. Once you have experienced the exceptional comfort and support of the right pillow, you?ll wonder how you ever got to sleep without it.

The perfect pillow should be the right consistency and height to relax your neck and shoulder muscles, and to provide the correct support and body alignment for you. There are a variety of different shapes to choose from such as V-shaped, large square, super king, square, cushion pad, cot bed pillow, bolster and your standard pillow shape (50cm x 75cm).

Pillows come in a range of natural, man-made and specialty fillings such as feather, down, cotton, synthetic, silk, latex and memory foam. The fillings determine how firm or soft the pillow is. The softness or firmness of a natural-filled pillow is dictated by the amount of feather (which is firm) and down (which is soft) used in the filling.

Natural down pillows are often considered the most luxurious ? air trapped between the feathers or down gives the pillow bounce and helps it to mould to the shape of your head. The higher the quality of down, the softer the pillow will feel.

Synthetic pillows are good for allergy sufferers. The highest quality synthetics can give a down like feel, however choose pure cotton casings for maximum comfort and ventilation. Silk is another option for a non-down pillow which should still feel soft and bouncy ? choosing a silk pillow with a 50% polyester content will prevent the pillow becoming too flat.

Memory foam pillows are made from visco-elastic foam, which take advantage of innovative new technology using high density, temperature and pressure sensitive material that reacts to body heat and weight and moulds to the exact contours of your body. It is hypoallergenic, can help to relieve neck pain and tension and may be ideal for people who change position a lot while sleeping.

Latex pillows come in a range of tensions and its gentle resilience enables the head to be comfortably supported in all sleeping positions. Latex is naturally derived from mature rubber trees. Latex pillows, like memory foam, are hypo-allergenic and have an aerated interior to keep the pillow ventilated.

Below is a guide to pillow fillings and their tension:

Firm:
- Duck Feather & Latex
Medium/Firm:
- Duck Feather & Down

- Memory Foam / Latex

- Cotton

- Synthetic/Polyester
Medium:
- Down Surround with Feather core

- Feather & Down

- Memory Foam / Latex
Medium/Soft:
- Down

- High Quality Synthetic/Polyester
Soft/Luxurious:
- Goose Down

- Silk/Polyester
Ultra Soft/Luxurious: - Hungarian Goose Down

According to leading chiropractors one of the most common causes of neck pain is prolonged abnormal posture during sleep. Using too many pillows to create height causes the spine to curve upwards slightly and too low or thin pillows causes the spine at the top of the neck to curve downwards and the skin to crease on the underside of the neck. For ideal support the spine should remain level and in alignment, and the pillow should tuck into the neck/shoulder.

Consider what position you like to sleep in when choosing your pillow. If you sleep on your back or stomach you might prefer a soft or medium pillow that is not too thick and will mould to your head and neck to give you comfortable gentle support. Choose a firm or dense pillow if you sleep on your side, as this will offer the most support for your spine, head and neck in that position. If you have wide shoulders and sleep on your side you may prefer to use two pillows ? a popular combination is a firmer bottom pillow and a softer top pillow. If you suffer from neck problems, an orthopaedic pillow or memory foam pillow may provide the shape and tension you are after.

The life cycle of a pillow is usually 2-4 years. Once pillows start to age, they no longer provide the support required for a good night?s sleep and can also become unhygienic. There are a few warning signs which may indicate that it is time for a new pillow, such as: the cover of your pillow becoming discoloured, you waking up with a neck ache and you waking up feeling wheezy or with a runny/blocked nose. It is worth remembering that we all loose up to 1 pint of sweat per night which stains and dirties the pillow cover, allows unhealthy fungi to grow inside and attracts dusts mites which can cause allergic reactions. New pillows are dust mite free and you can purchase a hypo-allergenic, anti-dust mite treated, machine washable pillow protector which is specially designed to eliminate bacteria and relieve allergies.

Getting the best from your pillows requires the use of a pillow protector and a pillowcase. The first thing you should do when you buy new pillows is cut the labels off - itchy, scratchy labels will only get in the way of a peaceful night?s sleep. Then slip on a pillow protector and finally a pillowcase to match your sheets or duvet cover. When you purchase a pillow you should always purchase at least two pillow protectors in the size to match your pillow. Pillow protectors lessen the need for pillow cleaning because they provide an additional shielding barrier against dirt and oil. They also help to lengthen the life of your pillow. Having two pillow protectors per pillow will allow you to have one in the wash while the other is being used on the pillow. Pillow protectors can be found in fabrics that range from cheap synthetics to fine expensive cottons. A decorative pillow case is the outer layer of the pillow. Always buy or have an extra set of pillowcases. Changing pillow cases frequently will allow you to freshen up the bed and can also keep your face and hair cleaner.
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