Although you may be considering spending thousands of pounds on the most luxurious bed available, there may be one vital component for good night’s sleep that have been neglecting: the humble pillow.
People do not seem to attach much importance to their pillows, and buy cheap ones in a plastic bag for less than £5! But just as your bed provides comfort and support for your body – vital for both correct spinal alignment and good sleep – the pillow does the same thing for your head and neck.
In fact, your pillow works hand in hand with your mattress to supply the support and comfort you need. In practical terms, this means that the pillow needs to be of the correct height and firmness to keep your head and neck in alignment with the rest of your spine. Remember when buying a pillow that you naturally change position several times during the night (anywhere between 25 and 60 times a night). So the pillow must provide comfort and support for all orientations of your head and neck.
The consequence is that, just like a bed, the only way of really judging if a pillow will be comfortable for you is to try them for yourself. During the night you lose body heat – mainly through your head and face – so it is important that the pillow does not impede this heat loss and that it helps to wick away moisture. Because it will absorb moisture during the night, it is important that your pillow is able to breathe so that it can air during the day.
As you can see, your humble pillow is an important part of making sure you get a good, comfortable night’s sleep. So remember to be as careful about choosing it as you are when selecting a new bed.
Dr. Neil Stanley
Dr Neil Stanley is an independent sleep expert who has been involved in research for over 35 years. After starting out at the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine, he moved on to the University of Surrey's Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit, where he was Director of Sleep Research. Today, he travels the world lecturing on various aspects of sleep to both healthcare professionals and the public at large.