By Bettyjoe Cooper
Do you find yourself unable to get to sleep despite trying various techniques? Have you been counting sheep, tossing and turning all night only to hear the alarm clock buzz all to early? Most of us have experienced sleepless nights. But when this becomes a regular occurrence, the reason may not be obvious.
Most people assume that if they aren’t sleeping well it must be due to stress or mild depression. Others put it down to medication, excessive alcohol or other substances such as caffeine. Some people snore or suffer with sleep apnea, causing disturbed sleep they are unaware of.
Apart from those possibilities, another likely culprit is a mattress providing inadequate support. Yet few of us consider that the state of our pillow, or whether we are using the wrong one, could be the problem. The right cushioning and positioning for your upper body is important to achieve a deep and rejuvenating sleep.
How many times have you awoken to reposition your pillow because it’s uncomfortable?
Getting the right height and softness for you to rest your tired head on is a very comforting feeling. Using the correct pillow can also help to align your spine during sleep. In turn this can alleviate or prevent common back and neck conditions. Experts believe that it is not only the elevation (known as the ‘loft’ in pillow talk) and the firmness, but also the type of pillow to match your sleeping style.
Back sleepers should use a pillow with a low loft which puts the spine in mid-line. For the 75 per cent of us that are side sleepers, the width is as important as the loft. This is because the cushioning falls into the gap between your shoulder and neck. If you suffer from hip pain or are pregnant as well as being a side sleeper, a long pillow to rest one leg and one arm on may be the best option.
People underestimate just how much of a difference having the right pillow makes, not only to the quality of their sleep but also to how they feel throughout the day,” says physiotherapist Sammy Margo. “I have seen so many patients throughout my 26-year career suffering from neck, shoulder, back and hip pain, not to mention pins and needles in their arms and postural problems, simply because of how they sleep. We give a lot of thought to how we sit and stand these days but very little thought to how we lie down at night.”
Margo spent years researching sleeping habits and in 2008 published ‘The Good Sleep Guide’.
“We spend a third of our lives asleep which is a lot of time. Not all of us sleep in the same way or in the same position” she explains. Millions of adults suffer from sleep problems at some stage in their lives of which insomnia is the most common. Pillows have evolved and it should be possible to buy the perfect one for you,” she said.
We have discussed the pillow size, loft and firmness. But there are also considerations such as the materials used. There are many more options than traditional down or the more modern polyester filled pillows. The variety of materials available offers a wide range of different experiences. More advanced pillows such as the Malouf Carbon Cool + Omniphase also regulates the temperate for ideal sleep comfort. The manufacturer claims:
“The greatest scientific advancement in the industry since memory foam, phase change material (PCM) offers continual temperature regulation for ideal sleep comfort. Our proprietary application of OmniPhase microencapsulated phase change material has created a new category in memory foam comfort. PCM continually adjusts to body and environmental temperature to maintain the optimum sleep temperature range. Supportive memory foam is infused with graphite – known for its excellent thermal conductivity properties – to remove heat. Tiny graphite molecules in the pillow create pathways that use conduction to channel heat away from the head, face and neck. A Tencel mesh cover creates a soft, smooth surface that helps to control humidity while allowing for maximum exposure to the Omniphase coating. We maximised the most advanced pillow-cooling technology available to create ideal comfort.”
It is true that a good pillow can cost as much as a cheap mattress, but what price can you put on a restful sleep? So, it might be worth looking at what’s under your head the next time you find yourself counting sheep in the early hours.
• Bettyjoe Cooper is a self-published author and the founder of Brand New Mattress Co, a retailer of bedding products located in the Hummingbird Plaza, Coral Harbour Road, Nassau, Call 698 4609 for more information.