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Ten Steps to Finding the Right Pillow for You

Aug 17, 2007
One of the key ingredients to getting a great nights' sleep is using a pillow that supports not only your head and neck, but your sleep habits and body style as well. Deciding which pillow is the right pillow for you can be as confusing as programming your VCR or setting up a new computer.

If you choose the wrong pillow you will have to endure night after night of discomfort, frustration and sleeplessness. However, getting the right pillow can put you well on your way to lower stress, higher energy and great health thanks to night after night of beneficial sleep.

So, with literally hundreds of different pillows available on the market today, how do you make certain that you get this critical decision correct?

Know what kind of sleeper you are. Are you a back sleeper, a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper? Do you prefer firm or gentle support, a thick pillow or a flat pillow? Before you make any changes in your sleep environment, especially rushing off to buy a new pillow, it is a good idea to first take inventory of where you are at right now. Even if your sleeping habits are terrible, you need to know what, if anything, is working for you right now.

Avoid radical changes. The first step in picking the pillow that is right for you is to consider what kind of pillow you are using right now. If you are using a pillow that is flat and uniform throughout, you will have to ease yourself into a contoured or ergonomically shaped pillow. Going from a soft, squishy pillow to a firm foam or fiber pillow may be rough on you while you get accustomed to it.

Decide which type of support you need. If you are looking for your pillow to help relieve pain or discomfort, you will need an accommodating pillow which conforms to your body. Corrective and maintenance pillows help treat the cause of your problem by supporting the natural curve of your neck as you receive corrective care from a chiropractor, physical therapy or osteopath. While a few exceptions exist that serve the needs of all three categories (Accommodate, Correction and Maintenance), the majority of pillows will fall in only one or possibly two of these categories.

Identify the style of pillow which will serve you best. Once you have determined which type of support you need, you can narrow down the style of pillow that will serve you best. Memory foam, water pillows and air pillows are a perfect fit for those looking for an accommodating pillow which will conform to your body to help ease pain and discomfort. Most fiber pillows and foam pillows serve the needs of those who seek Correction or Maintenance support from their pillow.

If you need support for your shoulders, arms, hips and/or legs in addition to head and neck support, you will want to direct your search towards body pillows in addition to or in place of a head and neck pillow.

Get the size that is right for you. You can find the right type of pillow but still not enjoy a great quality of sleep, especially if your pillow isn't sized right for you. Some pillows come in a variety of sizes, while others come in only one or two but are designed so that they you can use different portions of the pillow to find the size that fits you well. Pillows which are adjustable fit a variety of sizes and body builds.

Match your pillow to your sleep habits. If you are a side sleeper, you will want your pillow to give you enough support to keep your head and neck perpendicular to your shoulders, but not so much support that your head is pushed away from the bed into an unnatural position. Back sleepers will prefer pillows with thinner support behind the head and slightly thicker support behind the neck. Some pillows are designed only for one style sleeper or the other, while several will provide excellent support in either sleeping position.

Don't take their word for it. While a personal referral is a great way to find a hair stylist or a chiropractor, it doesn't typically apply to the realm of pillow selection. If someone tells you that they love a particular pillow and that they get great results sleeping on it, don't blindly follow and expect to get the same results. Identify if your sleeping habits are similar and if your needs are the same. Better yet, try theirs out first to see if it feels comfortable and supportive.

Price isn't everything. A majority of problems with pillows starts in the area of price. Don't think that just because a pillow costs a lot of money that it will give you a great nights' sleep. On the flip side, while getting a bargain is always nice, you don't want to skimp on your pillow nor your bed. Most of us spend about a third of our lives in bed, so it is best to give our bodies the greatest support that we can afford.

Look at the warranty. After going through the painstaking process of finding the right pillow for you, the last thing you want is for your new-found love to only last a few weeks or months. Look for manufacturers and resellers that warranty their pillows and stand behind their product. You should be able to get at least two years out of a good pillow, depending on how well you take care of it. The manufacturer and/or reseller should be willing to stand behind their pillow for at least a year if it is a quality product.

You can (and should) take it with you. Once you have found the pillow which consistently helps you get quality sleep, take it with you no matter where you go. If your pillow is too big and bulky to travel with you, then be sure to get a travel sized version of your pillow that you can keep with you. Away from home is not where you want to experience health problems from poor sleep.

Using this information will lead you on the right path to finding the pillow that is going to give you the best sleep possible. Keep in mind that your pillow might not be the only factor keeping you from dreamland. If you are experiencing health problems that keep you from sleeping well, don't wait to get them taken care of. There are few things that are more important than sleep which will help your body return to and stay healthy.
About the Author
Dr. Nick Preston is a chiropractor focused on helping families enjoy greater health and founder of Wisdom and Health. Get additional wisdom for better health choices at www.wisdomandhealth.com and find pillows and sleep aides you're going to love (guaranteed)!
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