There are a fair few events going on this weekend: traditional Easter activities, a Bank Holiday, lots of football and DIY sales…and International Pillow Fight Day.
If you’re over the age of five, the last one may not be marked in your diary, but it should be. Fighting bit aside, it provides a reminder to stop and think about how having the right pillow can promote uninterrupted sleep, general wellbeing and improved happiness.
A few expert tips on choosing the perfect place to rest your head:
Know the market
“There are so many different types of pillows out there, from orthopaedic pillows, to butterfly pillows, memory foam pillows, and your bog-standard supermarket feather pillow,” says Tim Allardyce, physio at www.surreyphysio.co.uk. So how do you know where to start?
Know your place
Essentially, there is no one pillow to suit everyone. “A key thing to remember is that we all have different necks and spines,” explains Tim. “Our body shapes differ. Added to that, we all tend to sleep in different positions; the majority of people like to sleep on their side, but a lot are front sleepers, and some people sleep on their back. Some people stay in one position, while others change positions.”
Know the numbers
“If you tend to sleep on your side, go for two pillows; if you sleep on your back, one pillow. The reason why most people should have two pillows when sleeping on their side is that you need the pillow to cover the distance between the edge of your shoulder, and your neck. Too low (one pillow) and your neck will drop downwards, creating a kink in your spine. Too high, and the opposite can occur.”
Know the thickness
It’s not just how many pillows you have, it’s how thick they (and your shoulders) are too. “You may need to use one thick pillow and one thinner pillow, or perhaps two thick pillows, depending on how broad your shoulders are,” explains Allardyce.
Know your body
When you wake up, think about how you feel. Does your neck hurt, for instance? “If so, you may be sleeping on the wrong pillow,” points out Allardyce. “Listen to your body and realise that pain can be a sign you have a neck problem, and pillows may be contributing to that. Get advice from your osteopath or physiotherapist.”
Know the trends – but don’t always follow them
“Memory foam pillows have gained popularity in recent years, as they shape to support your neck and typically have a bump in them, giving your neck extra support - especially for people who lie on their back,” explains Allardyce.
That said, they’re not for everyone. “Many people find some memory pillows too firm, and want to place a thin ‘normal’ pillow over the top.”
Know the timing
Sometimes, a good pillow might need ‘breaking in’. “You should give a new pillow a few nights to see if you get used to it. Sometimes you need to adapt before you will find it comfortable.”
Conversely, just because something is really comfortable at first, don’t always be swayed. “Make sure it provides appropriate support throughout the entire night – often a soft pillow may be blissfully comfy in the first moments, but struggle to offer any real support to the head and neck over the course of a night,” says Jed MacEwan, managing director of memory foam bedding specialist Ergoflex.
Know your budget
Like most things, if you want good quality, you might have to pay a good price. “Even though pillows can be expensive for a good one, its worth trying it to see if it helps you sleep better,” stresses Allardyce.
“Always avoid just grabbing the cheapest pillows available, the first that comes to hand, or relying on a quick squeeze in the shop,” adds MacEwan.
Know what works
“But by far the biggest advice: sleep on a pillow(s) that feels comfy. If you’re not sure, then try two or three different ones. Remember, you spend many hours sleeping, and will do for the rest of your life - so make sure you feel comfortable in bed.”