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Do you know the age of your pillow? There are several signs that reveal when it’s time to replace your pillow. If you don’t take action, you could end up with inadequate support for your head and neck during the night, which can not only result in difficulty sleeping but also in morning pain.
Various studies reveal that the average person spends 40% of his life with his head on a pillow. Your pillow is fundamentally important to getting a good night’s rest, just as important as your mattress. It’s easy to tell when your mattress is worn out and in need of replacement, but do you know how to tell if your pillow is past its prime? Proper maintenance, and a good protective cover, can prolong the life of your pillow, but once the structure is gone, it’s gone.
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It sounds disgusting, yet every time you lay your head on a pillow, you are depositing body oils and dead skin cells onto the surface. Oils and skin cells make their way through your pillowcase and start building up on your pillow. Eventually, dust mites move in and start making a home out of the very spot you rest your head. The best way to maintain your pillow is with a protective cover. Protective pillow covers should be cleaned monthly, and the pillow itself washed twice a year. Regular laundering in hot water of 130°F can help kill off dust mites, remove allergens, and wash away the oily buildup that will discolor your pillow. All regular bedding, such as sheets and pillowcases, should be washed weekly.
Taking care of your pillow properly allows you to get the most out of it. All things wear out over time and a pillow that has lost its structure can be unhealthy for your neck. You need to understand the importance of a pillow’s structure and how to test for its structural integrity. Everyone has a personal preference for pillow styles. Some prefer fluffy, down pillows, while others seek out firm, memory foam designs. In between, you’ll find polyester-filled pillows that offer a wide variety of firmness options.
The polyester, or synthetic, pillows have the shortest lifespan and are typically the least expensive option for bed pillows. The life-span of this style of pillow averages 6 to 12 months. Their fibers are more affected by tossing and turning than any other pillow fill option. The obvious sign of structural damage in polyester pillows is the appearance of lumps. Lumps cannot be re-fluffed or manipulated out of the pillow. Once they appear, they are there forever. If it’s not yet lumpy, but washing and drying don’t seem to be bringing it back to life, then it is time to do the fold test. Fold the pillow in half and set a shoe on top, a single tennis shoe is perfect. The pillow should unfold on its own, tossing the shoe off. If your pillow remains folded, then the internal structure can no longer properly support your neck, and it needs to be replaced.
Solid foam pillows, such as memory foam, can have a life of up to three years when properly protected and maintained. Washing is more difficult and varies based on the type and size of the foam insert, so pay close attention to the manufacturer’s directions. While memory foam pillows will not become lumpy, they will steadily become flatter and harder. If your pillow was designed to dissipate body heat, you may notice that your pillow is remaining cold. A fold test is also an excellent indicator; however, it is performed differently for these styles. Fold the pillow and place a moderately heavy object on top. Allow the object to rest on the pillow for several minutes. When you finally remove the object and the pillow unfolds, take note of how long it takes before the pillow regains its original shape. As it ages, it will take longer to return to the original form.
Down, or feather, pillows have the longest life expectancy. They are softer and more malleable than any other style of pillow. They require regular fluffing as the feathers become compressed during sleep. While they are pricier than other types of pillow fills, they have a life-span of 8 to 12 years when they are maintained properly. These pillows will last a long time, maybe even longer than your mattress, if washed and dried regularly. As long as the pillow returns to a fluffy status after drying, the pillow is good to go.
Your body needs a clean, healthy, and supportive place to recharge and repair while you sleep. Take care to choose the pillow style that meets the needs of your body. Then purchase a protective cover to extend the life of the pillow and help reduce the allergen build up. Lastly, take care to clean your pillow and bedding regularly. Don’t be tempted to continue using flat, lumpy, or discolored pillows. Your body will thank you in the morning.