Is it REALLY necessary to change your pillow every 6 months - 1 year, as is commonly believed? There are 2 reasons why you might change your pillow more often:
Accumulation of dust mites, dirt and oils: Over time, your pillow will collect dirt, oil and dust mites that feed on dead skin cells. If you don't use a pillow protector or can't wash your pillows, sleep specialists advise throwing away your pillows more often.
Loss of support: Over time, your pillow will collect dirt, oil and dust mites that feed on dead skin cells. If you don't use a pillow protector or can't wash your pillows, sleep specialists advise throwing away your pillows more often.
Slumbr believes you can extend the life of your pillows by years when you:
- Choose pillows with longer-lasting fills, such as down, buckwheat or latex
- Always use a dust mite-proof, washable pillow protector on all your pillows
So how do I pick the perfect pillow for me?
Key comfort rule: Your pillow should provide neutral support. Your pillow should provide enough support without throwing your head and neck out of proper (neutral) alignment. You don't want your neck craning back or your chin pushed too far forward. Imagine that there is a straight line between your head, neck and spine.
Your primary sleep position determines how thick and high your pillow should be to maintain neutral support. Although many sleep in multiple positions throughout the night, in general, most people tend to settle into a primary sleep position for the majority of the evening.
- Side sleeper recommendation: A higher-profile, thicker pillow that lifts your head to align with your neck.
- Stomach sleeper recommendation: A thinner, low-profile pillow so your head doesn't get pushed up and back too far.
- Back sleeper recommendation: A medium-profile pillow to maintain a level chin that's not pushed too far forward.
- If you sleep in all three positions quite evenly, you usually can't go wrong with a medium thickness pillow.
But sleep position is just the beginning consideration for comfort. There are a number of other subjective factors that make your pillow right for you.
Firmness and compressibility
Pillow firmness preferences are highly subjective, and many sleepers we know have strong opinions on what works for them. There is no definitive rule for which firmness level promotes better sleep. Let your past pillow experiences guide your gut on what kind of feel you'll enjoy more.
Firmness defines how solid and unyielding a pillow is when your head lays on it. Pillows of all fill types can be thick or thin, but the firmness really depends on how compressible (ie having give when squished) that fill can be.
Keep in mind that a pillow may have a surface that has some give and squish, but still firmly maintains its elevation. Latex and foam are like this. Other fills, like buckwheat, generally have little give to what some specific pillow sellers espouse. However, if you have chronic neck, shoulder or back pain, we do recommend a firmer option.
Some sleepers like to manipulate the fill of their pillow under their head or neck for personalized support.
- Down and feather pillows are very scrunchable and shiftable. The upside is they're easy to maneuver throughout the night as you switch positions. The downside is they can flatten out as the fill disperses under the head. A high-quality version with strong loft properties and abundant fill can prevent this from happening.
- Buckwheat pillow hulls can mold and shift around the contours of your head, but will "lock" into place for very stable, individual support.
- Latex and memory foam pillows may compress and have some give, but ultimately, these fills do not shift or maneuver.
Hypoallergenic For those with respiratory allergies or asthma, consider a pillow fill that resists allergens. However, if you've ever had a respiratory issue with a pillow, chances are you're actually reacting to dust mites that have accumulated in the pillow (vs the fill itself). Therefore we recommend encasing your pillow in a protector and washing it often.
Natural vs. synthetic Some people consider it important to sleep on a pillow made of all-natural materials, from the tick covering to the fill. While synthetic fills are generally considered safe, some people prefer a natural-origin pillow out of health and environmental concerns.
Breathability Often sleepers desire a cool pillow, or at least one that doesn't retain heat. Memory foam pillows are known to sleep "warm" for instance. Many traditional pillow types are naturally breathable, allowing airflow to move through the pillow. Buckwheat pillows are considered to be the most naturally breathable out there.
Another factor to consider is how long your pillow should last to support you through daily use, as well as how easy it is to wash or freshen up. In the case of polyester pillows, washing too frequently can cause them to lump and break down. Higher quality fill pillows in general should keep their support and consistent feel over time, usually for many years.
Sourcing and origin For some, it's important that their pillows are made domestically. Others prefer to know that their pillows were sustainably sourced. In some cases, the origin of the fill does impact the quality of the fill. For example, European-origin down in general tends to be longer-lasting, loftier and higher-quality, given the climate and breeding conditions where the birds were raised.
Size Sleepers typically find a standard-sized pillow to be just fine for comfort and support. This is the size we recommend most people get for their primary pillow. Some people prefer larger queen or king sized pillows and like having a large surface area to lay their head on. This is usually about personal preference and not a dictate on which size is better for your body type.
Secondary usage Plenty sleep with multiple pillows behind their head or under other parts of their body. Side sleepers may enjoy a pillow between their knees to relieve pressure on their hips and spine. Back sleepers may use a pillow placed under their knees to alleviate lower back stress. Typically, a thinner, softer pillow, like Slumbr's Virgo, is ideal as secondary support.