Meditation & Health #23 – Pillows for Sound Sleep
Pillows for Sound Sleep
By Mu Feng & Dan Shan
Sound sleep is essential to a productive waking life and good health. The requirements of a healthy sleep life are worthy of care and attention. One crucial element for a rested, pain-free body is the pillow. Choosing the right pillow can mean the difference between an aching neck and waking up limber and refreshed.
It is important to sleep on a pillow of the appropriate height. This can prevent problems such as an aching neck and shoulders or even conditions such as ringing in the ears, dizziness, snoring, and insomnia.
Finding the Right Pillow
Choosing the right pillow height depends on one’s sleep habits. If you prefer to sleep on your back, it is best to use a pillow that has a slight contour and which takes on the shape underneath your neck while keeping your neck and head aligned.
If you are a side sleeper, the height can be higher and the pillow should support the head and neck so that the spine maintains a straight and natural horizontal line.
It is not recommended to sleep on your stomach. However, if you have a tendency to do so, it is best to choose a low and soft pillow to minimize pressure on the spine. If you tend to vary your sleep position, using a pillow of a lower height is a good option.
Firm pillows are usually better than soft ones. Soft pillows, while seemingly more comfortable, tend to let your head sink in, leaving your neck unsupported, and may restrict airflow. Buckwheat pillows are neither too firm nor too soft. They conform perfectly to the shape of your head and neck, providing excellent support.
For those living in drier areas, the breathable buckwheat pillow is the best choice as it allows air to freely move through the pillow and thus does not retain the heat generated by the body. Other benefits include its ability to release muscle tension and soothe muscles, promoting a restful sleep.
Keeping Pillows Clean
The right pillow filling will help to prevent allergic reactions. In recent years, pillow fillings that are made of natural latex have been popular. However, the material may not be suitable for everybody as some people are allergic to latex. As for feather pillows, mites tend to breed in them if they are not cleaned properly. Those with asthma or a weak respiratory system should refrain from using feather or down pillows.
It is extremely important to change one’s pillow regularly. Do not be misled into thinking that once you have found a suitable pillow, you should keep that pillow for a long period of time. According to a study done by the University of Manchester, pillows in most families are moldy and are breeding places for allergy-causing mites. In cases of mild allergies, an old pillow may cause sneezing and coughing. In severe cases, invasive aspergillosis may occur whereby the allergens infect the lungs, causing shortness of breath, lethargy, coughing which discharges blood, and in some instances, even death. Therefore, it is important to change pillows every one to three years.
Keeping the pillowcase clean is essential since we spend about a third of our time in direct contact with it. Washing and changing one’s pillowcase weekly is optimal to prevent the germs and dirt trapped in our hair from building up on our pillows, and making them a breeding place for mites.
A health-promoting pillow is a necessary investment. An unsuitable pillow can be a pain in the neck. Invest some time to find yourself the gift of sound sleep.