Nearly 70 percent of people say a comfortable pillow is very important to a good night’s sleep, but many of us make a crucial mistake when it comes to our favorite pillows: We’re keeping them for way too long, Huffington Post reports.
In fact, pillows should probably be replaced around every six months, says Robert Oexman, DC, director of the Sleep to Live Institute and definitely within two years, according to WebMD, a stark difference from the five-to-10-year lifespan of the typical mattress. “People talk about how nasty a mattress gets,” says Oexman, but pillows are more frequently forgotten, Huffington Post reports.
Unlike mattresses, the concern is less about the pillow breaking down and no longer providing ample support, he says. Instead, “it’s just not something you want to be around longer than six months.”
That’s because a host of critters and debris can be found in the very pillow you lay your face on night after night after night. Dirt and oil and dead skin cells get trapped there, which might lead to acne. Dust mites, which belong to the spider family, also like to hang out in the crevices of your pillow. “You can’t see them, but they’re concentrated where people are in things like bedding and carpeting,” says Mark R Neustrom, of Kansas City Allergy and Asthma Associates.
Airtight covers for mattresses and pillows can certainly help, as can washing bedding – including pillows – regularly. Thirty minutes on low in the dryer can also help clear out some of the clutter from your pillows, says Oexman.
When the time does come to shop for a new pillow, keep in mind that the goal is to find one that fills the gap between your head and your shoulders when you lie down. The perfect pillow positions your head into alignment when you’re snuggling in your favorite sleep position, says Oexman. Stomach and back sleepers need much thinner pillows than side sleepers for this reason, he says. Whether you purchase a down or foam or a gel pillow is entirely up to your personal preference, he says. Whenever you get a new mattress, he adds, you must also get a new pillow, as the gap between your head and shoulders will change with the change in mattress firmness.
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