by Sudha Bhat on  August 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM Health Watch
 How Frequently Should You Replace Your Pillow?
Good comfortable pillows are the cornerstone to good night's rest and vivid, vibrant dreams. As children, we value the pillow with every fall of that milk tooth and look forward to the visit of the tooth fairy to put money or something equally valuable under it!!! An ideal pillow should be thick enough so as to hold your head in the same angle to the shoulders and spine as when you are standing.

We all are aware of the importance of a good night's rest as lack of sleep could potentially create health issues; so it is important to invest in a good pillow. A pillow is nothing but a support for the head as well as other parts of the body, which is cushioned or stuffed with range of materials such as down feathers to synthetic foam. Everyone has their special preferences with respect to size, firmness or softness, foam or feathers and even the thickness.

An expert has suggested that it does not take too long for sweet dreams to be converted into nightmares if you don't change your pillows often, i.e., as early as once in about every six months, as pillows are prone to harbor dirt, oil, dead skin cells and dust mites over a period of time. All this could potentially cause or worsen acne and even trigger allergic reactions.

A renowned allergist & immunologist at Kansas City Allergy and Asthma Associates, Dr. Mark Neustrom believes that dust mites set up their home on the pillows and could exacerbate asthma and trigger allergic reactions.

He felt that if allergic reactions to dust are much stronger in the morning and at night, then the pillow is a very likely cause. Also, a majority of the people who suffer from allergies may be allergic to dust mites that live in their carpets and bedding/pillows.

The director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Mebane, North Carolina, Dr. Robert Oexman, told The Huffington Post that people sleeping on old pillows might be pressing and exposing their faces against dirt, oil and dead skin cells, which can cause acne.

Thus Dr. Oexman recommends frequent washing of your bedding and putting it in a tumble drier as an extra precaution. He also advises choosing the correct pillow, one that fills the gap between your head and shoulders when you lie down.

Types of pillows: Pillows on the market today are stuffed mainly with materials such as polyester (a synthetic), feathers, down, or a combination of the latter two.

Polyester pillows are the most durable, easily washed and one of the least expensive pillows to manufacture, and more importantly they are known to cause few allergic reactions. Polyester fiber fills are virtually odorless and do not have a tendency to absorb moisture. Moreover, these pillows maintain their shape even after numerous wash cycles.

Pillows filled with goose down are the most expensive pillows, whereas feathers are a moderately priced stuffing. Pillows may be filled with a combination of goose feathers and down to increase resilience; the ratio of which may be varied extensively according to price point (the more down, the more expensive). Down pillows are known to 'breathe' so they release perspiration produced during sleep. Additionally, they absorb and wick moisture away from the body. They are also known to retain heat, which helps to keep you warm and dry

Pillows are now also made with blends of hypo-allergenic fibers to cater to people with allergies or extremely sensitive skin.

Some pillow manufacturers are reverting to the age old Chinese method of including herbs in the filling of pillows to relieve aliments and give a better quality of sleep.

Orthopedic pillows are popular in relieving neck, back, and lumbar pain. They are typically filled with or surrounded by foam (some of them contain gel or water that can be heated or cooled) that is either preformed or forms around the head, to fully support the neck.

Choosing the right pillow: Whether you purchase a down, foam or a gel type of pillow; it is entirely up to what you actually prefer! It is important to find a pillow which is consistent with the shape and size of your body. Generally those who sleep on their side or back should opt for a higher pillow with firmer support, whereas stomach sleepers should choose a low, slimmer pillow.

If you constantly find yourself sleeping with one hand propped under your pillow, it may not be a good sign and it only shows that you're not getting the support you need from that pillow.

Tips to remember:

Wash your bed linens regularly with hot water, preferably on a weekly basis to cut down on allergens and germs.

Keep your rooms especially your bedroom cool, dry and clean to help keep dust mites at bay.

Although synthetic pillows are known to last longer, it is a known fact that all pillows can be washed and dried on a regular basis.

Always allow down pillows to dry thoroughly otherwise you could face a risk of developing moulds on them.

If the filling of the mattress gets clumped up or you're constantly fluffing your pillow, it's probably time to get a replacement.

There is no universal fit when it comes to pillows. So the next time you gleefully say "No more bags under my eyes!", you know you have to invest in a good comfortable pillow and yes, to have that lasting effect, don't forget to wash it regularly or replace it every six months or as often as deemed necessary.

Source: Medindia

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