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How to choose the right pillow

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 2:08:09 PM America/Vancouver

How to choose the right pillow...

There are several things to consider when choosing the right pillow.  Comfort, support, and neck alignment are some of the most important. Because there are so many types and sizes of pillows, it can be frustrating to select one that provides all three of these factors. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of different types and of pillows.

 Pillows_How_to_choose_the_right_pillow

Pillow Comfort

The comfort level of the pillow can vary based upon the material. There are pros and cons to each type of material. Some of the most common types are: Down, Memory Foam, Latex Foam, Feather, Down Alternative, or some combination of these.

Down pillows offer squishability and can be scrunched into the neck for customized support. High quality down can maintain its loft and support for many years. Down loft is measured in fill power, which ranges from 450 - 850 fill power. If you prefer a fluffy pillow that you can scrunch, then you may love a down pillow.

Memory foam pillows are made from visco-elastic polyeurethane foam, which is a foam that adapts to the shape and weight of a persons head. Depending on the density of the foam, and how long they bake the foam, a memory foam pillow can be firmer or softer. Memory foam pillows usually aren't very squishable, and tend to stay in one place and not move around. Memory foam can be more of a heat insulator, however some options have holes throughout the foam, or cooling gel to counteract the insulation. If you prefer a pillow that stays put and has a firmer feel, then you may love a memory foam pillow.

Latex foam pillows are made from either synthetic latex foam or natural latex foam rubber. Latex foam, unlike polyeurethane foam has a different cell structure that doesn't collapse or breakdown as quickly and can last a very long time. Most latex pillows can last up to 10 years. These pillows feel a bit bouncy and kind of like your head is floating. They are made by steaming the sap mixture of the rubber tree. Usually it's done in molds using long fingers, which creates a hole filled porous structure which contributes to them being very cool and breathable.

Feather pillows offer some of the squishability that down offers, but are a firmer feel. Feathers have the quills that can poke through the fabric if the thread count of the cover is not high enough. Usually a minimum 400 thread count fabric will prevent the feathers from coming out of the pillow. Feather pillows are cheaper thand down but offer some of the same benefits. They usually won't stay as lofty and tend to squish down quicker.

Down Alternative pillows are made from synthetic fibers such as polyester or gel fiber, and offer a soft fluffy feel for a lower price than down. These pillows are hypoallergenic and create a comfortable support. The firmness and thickness of the pillow depends on how much fill material is used. Unfortunately down alternative fibers are difficult to refluff once they get compressed, and typically last only a few months.

Combination type pillows are made from two or more of these types and can offer a mixture of benefits. For example, a latex core pillow with down alternative fill surrounding it can offer the comfort of a down alternative pillow, but with the long lasting benefits of a latex pillow. A feather core pillow with down surrounding it can offer the fluffy feel of a down pillow with the firmer support and cheaper cost of a feather pillow. Some options are reversible and offer one type on one side, and another type of feel on the other side for a 2-in-1 support.

 

Side Sleeper Pillows 

Pillow Support

To look at pillow support it is important to take into consideration two factors including sleeping position, and mattress firnness. The primary sleeping position is important because the distance from the shoulder to head is different than the distance from the back of the neck to the bed. For example, most side sleepers need a taller pillow to fill in the gap between shoulder and head, which can keep the neck in better alignment. Whereas a stomach sleeper needs little to no support so that the head and neck won't be arched backwards.

Side sleepers are the most common, with almost 60% of sleepers preferring this position. Side sleepers can benefit from a medium to taller support, depending on the mattress firmness and the shoulder width of the sleeper. If you sleep on a softer mattress and your body is more into the mattress, then you may need a smaller pillow. If you sleep on a taller mattress, and your body is more on top of the bed, then you may need a taller pillow. Make sure to take into consderation the firmness of the mattress when selecting a good pillow.

Back sleepers are the second most common, with just over 20% preferring this position. Back sleepers can benefit from a medium to smaller thickness pillow that can allow the back of the head to almost reach the mattress, but fill in the curve of the neck. Some back sleepers prefer a neck roll, or just a small amount of support in the neck area. Too thick of a pillow can push the neck and head forward and put excess stress on the upper back and neck. It's important to have the shoulders on the mattress and only the neck and head on the pillow for proper support.

Stomach sleepers are the least common, with under 20% preferring this position. Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal for a few reasons. You have to turn your head and neck to breath, which puts your neck in a twisted position and not in proper alignment. Also, when sleeping on your stomach, you are putting your body weight on your chest making it harder to breathe, which means your body is getting less oxygen. Most stomach sleepers prefer a very thin pillow, and often pull the pillow more under the upper torso, which can minimize the arching of the neck.

Multi-Position sleepers will usually have a primary sleeping position, but also sleep in other postions. Pay attention to the sleeping position that you first wake up in, as this is usually where you have spent the most time. If you are a back and side sleeper then a medium to taller pillow may be a good multi-position pillow.  If you are a back and stomach sleeper, then a very small to medium height pillow might be a good option. And if you sleep in all postions, then a medium height pillow could be a good compromise.

Best pillows for neck alignment 

Pillow Neck Alignment

When selecting the perfect pillow, it's important to take into consideration neck alignment. If you can keep your neck in more of its natural alignment, then you should feel less discomfort and be more relaxed when you wake. The right pillow will support your head and neck, while relieving pressure. Imagine if you were standing up straight with good posture, and put your back against a wall.  You would have a curve in the neck, and a curve in the lower lumbar region of the back. To support your spine while you are asleep, it's important to have a mattress that adapts to your body shape, as well as a pillow that fills in the curve of your neck or supports your head from your shoulder to your neck. When testing pillows, evaluate your alignment by asking yourself if you feel straight or in good posture.

 Pillow Reviews

Pillow Reviews

Like most things, it's important to take pillow reviews with a grain of salt. Everyone is shaped differently, has different sleeeping positions and habits, and not everyone likes the same comfort type. If you can experience the pillow first hand by trying it out in-store in your primary sleeping position, then you are more likely to be satisfied with your purchase. Make sure to find out what the retailers' return or exchange policy is, so you can exchange it if you are not satisfied. 

 

The right pillow can make a huge difference in your overall comfort throughout the night. Getting comfortable from head-to-toe can reduce tossing and turning, allow you to stay asleep longer, and wake more refreshed. Don't settle for a bad pillow, make sure to choose the right pillow. 

 

Check out some pillow options:   https://www.qualitysleepstore.com/bedding/pillows.html

 

0 Comments | Posted in Sleep Tips By Quality Sleep

5 Tips for Better Sleep Routines

Saturday, October 20, 2018 12:48:40 PM America/Vancouver

Keeping a sleep schedule for better sleep

Keep a sleep schedule

It's important to keep a sleep schedule and go to bed around the same time every night. When you keep a regular sleep schedule your body knows that it is time to start the rejuvenation process. Your natural awake and sleep cycle is a habit that your body is accustomed to, and changing it can be a difficult and sometimes harmful transition.

 Eating before bed

Don't eat right before bed

When you consume food or beverages right before bed, your body does what it is supposed to do, which is divert blood flow to your stomach and digestive system to incorporate those nutrients into your body. Allowing for at least 1-hour of time to digest before going to bed will help your body metabolize the nutrients and help you fall asleep easier.

 Bath or Shower at bed time for relaxing routine

Take a hot bath or shower

Taking a hot bath or shower right before bed can relax the muscles and open capillaries to allow better blood flow. It provides a soothing effect that calms nerves and signals that it is time to rest. Using bath salts such as Lavender can also have a soothing effect and cause you to feel more tired.

 Dark Bedroom Sleep Tip

Use an eye mask or darken the room

Light signals the body to not secret Melatonin which is the natural chemical in the body that causes people to feel tired and begin the sleep process. Using an eye mask to block out light, or darkening the room using blackout shades can help the body to secret more Melatonin and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep even if the sun comes up before it is time to wake.

 Relaxing music in bed to fall asleep

Try soft soothing music or a sound machine

Our brains are busy all day long processing tremendous amounts of information, so it's not always easy to turn them off. Using music or a sound machine that generates soothing sounds can allow the mind a moment of peaceful distraction which is often an segway into sleep. Deep relaxing music can slow the heartbeat and lead to falling asleep much faster.

 

 

0 Comments | Posted in Sleep Tips By Tom Starkey

How to compare mattresses

Saturday, September 23, 2017 11:04:33 AM America/Vancouver

How to compare mattresses

With so many brands, and so many mattress options, where do you start?

It can be confusing and challenging to find the right mattress. With so many options, it makes it a daunting task to compare mattresses and make a decision on which is best. Everyone is different, so there is no ONE right mattress for everyone. Comfort is very subjective, and testing the mattress in-store is usually the best way to make that final decision on whether or not it will be comfortable and supportive when you get it home. 

How do you narrow it down?

 

When comparing mattresses, it's best to compare like models as closely as possible.  There are many design features and material differences that can play a role.  Let's start with the most significant differences. 

 

Mattress Support Type

There are 7 basic mattress types.  Innerspring, Hybrid, Memory Foam, Latex, Tempur-Pedic, Air, and Water.  For the most part, waterbeds are no longer manufactured, and there is no longer a demand for them. So lets focus on the other 6 main mattress types. It would be unfair to compare a memory foam mattress to an air mattress because they are a different type of mattress, so it would not be an apples-to-apples comparison. There are many factors in the quality and durability of the support type.

Innerspring mattresses -  both the thickness of spring gauge and the number of innerspring coils makes a difference in how long it will last.

Hybrid mattresses - the number of coils and the density of the foam above the coils makes a difference in comfort and durability.

Memory Foam mattresses - the density of foam and how much of the mattress is memory foam vs. polyeurethane foam makes a difference in how supportive and durable the mattress will be. 

Latex Mattresses - are one of the longest lasting foams made today, however the type (Talalay Latex vs. Dunlop Latex) the ILD factor (firmness of the foam) and the way the mattress is layered all play a roll in comfort and durability.  

Tempur-Pedic mattresses

 

Comments | Posted in Sleep Tips By Tom Starkey

When should you replace a mattress?

Saturday, March 18, 2017 4:21:16 PM America/Vancouver

When should you replace your mattress?

 When should you replace your mattress

You might be wondering when is the right time to replace a mattress, why you should replace your bed or how long should you keep a mattress for?  There are several reasons you should replace your mattress, and continuing to use an old worn out mattress could actually be causing you more harm than good.

 

Body Impressions

Some body impression in a mattress is actually a good thing as it means your mattress is forming better to the curves of your body and it is providing better support, however body impressions that exceed 1.5 inches usually means you have lost the support the mattress once had and you could benefit from a new mattress. If you feel like you are climbing out of a hole or rolling into one, then it may be time for a new bed.

 

Back Pain

One major indicator of a mattress that is not providing good support is back pain. More specifically middle and low back pain that is worse throughout the night and in the morning tends to be related to a lack of support from your mattress. It tends to get worse as time goes on, and if unresolved can actually create serious spinal issues. The more you can keep your spine in its natural shape, typically the less back pain you will have. When your muscles are working throughout the night to keep your back in its natural spinal position, the more tired those muscles will feel in the morning.

 

Waking Up At Night

Although waking up at night may be normal on occasion due to using the bathroom or because of loud noises, doing so for comfort reasons is usually means that your mattress is not as comfortable as it once was. Each time you wake up at night you are coming out of the deeper stages of sleep which are vital to a good nights rest.

 

Tossing and Turning

If you find that you are tossing and turning a lot at night, it may mean that your mattress is not very comfortable. Although temperature and sleep partners can effect sleep, the comfort and support of the mattress is the number one aspect that effects overall comfort. On an old worn out mattress, the average sleeper changes sleep positions about 66 times per night, and on a new comfortable mattress that average drops to 34 times per night. Less tossing and turning means you will stay in the deeper stages of sleep longer and get a better quality of sleep.

 

Better Sleep Elsewhere

Often people who experience better sleep elsewhere when on vacation or staying at a friends house versus their own bed at home realize how bad their own mattress is and that they need a new mattress. We tend to get used to things and don’t know any different until we experience a different option.

 

Needs Change

Most people’s needs in a mattress will change over time. You may need to change your mattress if your body changes, because the comfort and support of a mattress is very dependent upon each person’s unique body shape and sleeping positions. For example, if you gained weight or if you sleep on your side you may need a softer mattress to conform more to your body and reduct pressure points, whereas if you have lost weight or now sleep more on your back or stomach then you may need a firmer mattress. Or perhaps your sleep partner has changed and it’s time to get a sleeping surface that is right for both of you. It’s important to evaluate your comfort and change your mattress based upon your comfort and support.

 

 

The average life of a mattress is 7-8 years. Mattresses tend to wear out on a sliding scale. Depending on the brand and quality, they can be good for the first several years then decrease by a percentage each year thereafter. Rarely does a spring ever popout telling you that it is done and needs to be replaced. Usually people keep their mattress much longer than they should and tend to rationalize their decision by “trying to get their moneys worth” or because of the fear of making a mistake when in reality they are going to continue to suffer from the effects of poor comfort and the lack of support.  Some folks don’t realize how bad their mattress is until they go on vacation or sleep somewhere else and experience better sleep. Regardless of how old your mattress is, if it is no longer comfortable then you should replace it. 

1 Comments | Posted in Sleep Tips By Quality Sleep

Co-Sleeping Risks And Fears

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 12:05:45 PM America/Vancouver

 

Co-Sleeping, is it safe?

Co-Sleeping Risks And Fears

As a father of four children, I myself questioned whether or not co-sleeping is safe, and eventually after reading several articles online and discussing it with my wife, we determined that although we both prefer not to co-sleep whenever possible for multiple reasons, that we would allow it on occasion.

My children range from 9 years of age, down to 18 months old. And it's rare that we have one of them in our bed anymore, sometimes when they are sick or scared, however when they were under 9 months of age, including as newborns, we occasionally allowed it. As new parents, when we were up every 2-4 hours with feeding and diaper changes, there were times when we barely had the energy to get up out of bed to go get the baby, and it was definitely easier for my wife to roll over and feed our babies than for either of us to go across the room. I know it sound silly, but if you are a dead tired new parent, I think you know exactly what I am talking about.  Fortunately, our bedroom is big enough that we kept a bassinet in our room, and most of the time I was coherent enough to put our baby back into the bassinet just to get up 2 hours later and do it again. 

My initial reaction to the idea was "No Way" because I was afraid that one of us would roll over and smother our child. We determined that the safest place for him or her would be in the middle of the bed. That way they wouldn't roll out of the bed. Of course infants don't roll over for several months, so it wouldn't really be a concern right away. We have a king size bed, so there is extra space in the middle, and that made me feel better that I wouldn't risk rolling over. I tend to stay on my side of the bed. We read that infants need to be on a firm mattress so that they don't accidentally roll over and not be able to breathe, and our bed is pretty firm, so check on that one. I found that I was actually hyper conscious of my child being in the bed, and because of that I realized that I stayed in one position for the majority of the night. Your body naturally moves, and preventing that natural movement can be cause for poorer sleep quality, which can be one of the negative effects of co-sleeping. I slept better when my kids were in the basinet rather than in the bed, and if you're only getting a couple hours at a time, it's important that it be a good couple hour. Generally people sleep better when their sleep is uninterrupted, and that includes by others in the bed. 

There are several basinets that are designed to be pushed up next to the bed, which can make getting the baby for night time feedings much easier, however rotating your body then picking up the child usually uses only the back muscles, which is not recommended and makes it easier to strain a muscle during the movement. I found that swaddling my babies made all the difference in their sleep quality during the first 2 months of their lives, and I got pretty proficient at doing the super swaddle. I don't like to brag, but I think I could teach a class on the benefits of swaddling and how to do it effectively. Anyway, I hope this information has been helpful. Personally I value my quality of sleep, which is why we try to keep kids out of our bed whenever possible. As they got older, usually around 3 years of age, we begin to enforce a house rule that if they don't stay in their own bed until 6:30 am that they do not get any screen time that day. It has been effective at curbing their desire to co-sleep with mommy and daddy, and helping to restore our sleep sanity with our busy lives of four children and a business.

 

It's really up to each parent. We do not recommend one form of sleeping over another (i.e. separate sleeping vs. co-sleeping) and it's important that both parents agree and are comfortable with co-sleeping and follow suggested guidelines to minimize the risks. It's not recommended to co-sleep while using sleeping pills, sedatives, alcohol, or any other substance that could impure the ability to wake from sleep easily.

If you enjoyed this information, subscribe to our RSS feed, or bookmark the page and come back to our blog for more sleep tips. 

 

 

Here is another great article on co-sleeping:  

myths-and-truths-about-co-sleeping

 

Some great information in this article as well:

 

The Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping

 

 

A great quote from Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory:

"Aside from never letting an infant sleep outside the presence of a committed adult, i.e. separate-surface cosleeping which is safe for all infants, I do not recommend to any parents any particular type of sleeping arrangement since I do not know the circumstances within which particular parents live. What I do recommend is to consider all of the possible choices and to become as informed as is possible matching what you learn with what you think can work the best for you and your family."

Comments | Posted in Sleep Tips By Tom Starkey

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