Why you need a good pillow?

By Lori Higgins

A good pillow can make so much difference in how you sleep. This article was given to us by www.pacificpillows.com. This company is unusual in that they offer only the finest down pillows, feather beds, and down comforters found worldwide in famous, 5-star hotels including Ritz-Carlton ®, Marriott ®, Hilton ®, DoubleTree ®, and Hyatt ®.

Here's their article:

A good pillow can be just as important as a good mattress in ensuring a restful night's sleep.

Yet many Americans put more time and resources into selecting a good-quality mattress than they do into selecting the right pillow to put their head on each night.

"There are few other products that you spend as much time with than the pillow. It's right there on your face, and you spend 8 hours a night on it. It's critical to have the right kind of pillow," said Matt Moses, vice president of marketing for the utility bedding division of Pillowtex, a leading pillow manufacturer.

Whether it's filled with polyester, cotton, feathers, down or buckwheat hulls and whether it costs $5 or $200, the right pillow can help prevent neck pain, upper back pain and headaches.

A good pillow not only makes you more comfortable but also can be essential to long-term health, said Danielle Ebert, director of marketing for Pacific Coast Feather Co., a Seattle-based bedding manufacturer that makes natural-fill pillows.

But finding the right pillow can be an adventure. Natural fill versus synthetic. Firm, soft or medium. Inexpensive versus expensive.

Those are choices pillow buyers face before they set foot in a store or go shopping online.

The selection is endless, whether you shop at a discount store or a high-end bedding shop. But sales for bed pillows are down, according to the Facts: Bedding, an annual survey by the weekly newspaper Home Textiles Today.

Sales in 2000 were $737 million, compared with $840 million in 1999, said Marvin Lazaro, product editor for the newspaper, which tracks the textile industry.

Bed pillows made up 11 percent of total bedding sales, which topped $6.7 billion in 2000.

Sleep patterns Understanding how you sleep is an important first step toward buying the right pillow, said Rick Williams, senior buyer and pillow expert at the Company Store, a La Crosse, Wis., bedding company.

"You're going to need different kinds of pillows to protect your neck properly," Williams said.

Pillows are typically marked to indicate whether they are for side, back or stomach sleepers.

If there's no marking, which is what we found with some pillows in area stores, try this: Place the pillow flat and punch it in the middle. The quicker the pillow regains its shape, the firmer it is. If it hardly moves at all, it's a soft pillow.

Most people -- nearly 60 percent -- sleep on their sides, according to a 1999 survey of 1,000 adults conducted by the Company Store, a bedding retailer.

Firm pillows are best for side sleepers because they fill in the distance created between the surface of your bed and your shoulders. The pillow, in essence, keeps your neck and spine aligned.

A medium-density pillow is best for back sleepers because it cradles the head and provides the right amount of neck support.

Doctors generally recommend against stomach sleeping, but 11 percent of the people in the 1999 survey indicated that's how they sleep. For those people, a soft pillow is best.

A softer pillow means your head won't be as tilted upward and won't create as much stress on the neck and spine, said Dr. Jerome McAndrews, spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association in Arlington, Va. Sleeping without a pillow may also work for stomach sleepers, McAndrews said.

Your size also can determine the kind of pillow you need. Larger people do better with firmer pillows and smaller people need softer pillows.

Opinion is mixed on what type of pillow is best for people who toss and turn all night. Some suggest using a soft pillow on top of a firm pillow; others suggest using a medium-density pillow.

Natural or synthetic? Selecting a pillow based on your sleeping style is relatively easy. Selecting one based on fill is more difficult.

Synthetic pillows are filled with man-made items like polyester or foam latex. Natural-fill pillows are filled with down, feathers or buckwheat hulls. Down and feather pillows come from geese and other waterfowl. The down comes from the insulating undercoat next to the bird's skin. Buckwheat hulls are a byproduct of buckwheat milling.

Natural pillows are generally more expensive than synthetic pillows. And although experts say more people are going natural, synthetic pillows still command a large share of the pillow market. Williams estimates that share at about 65 percent.

Lazaro, the Home Textiles Today editor, said synthetic pillows likely will continue their dominance.

"It's too inexpensive and too widely available," Lazaro said.

So what's better? It's all a matter of perception. And comfort. The key is to spend some time considering your options instead of making impulse purchases.

"Unfortunately, most people don't take very much time thinking about it. It's not something they shop for," said Bob Hamilton, vice president of advertising and creative development at Pillowtex. The Kannapolis, N.C., company, which manufactures natural-fill and synthetic pillows, makes brands under names like Fieldcrest, Cannon, Royal Velvet and Charisma.

But Hamilton does believe more people, likely buoyed by research that indicates Americans aren't getting enough sleep, are becoming interested.

Pam Franzoni, assistant manager at Scandia Down at the Somerset Collection in Troy, agrees.

"They're more educated," she said of the shoppers who visit the store, which sells bedding manufactured by the Company Store.

At Scandia Down, shoppers can test various pillows for sale by lying down on one of three sample beds, Franzoni said.

What about allergies? One factor that can determine pillow selection is allergies. It's not common, but some people are allergic to feathers or down. That shouldn't keep them from buying those natural-fill pillows, however.

Williams said that the down used in Company Store pillows is hypoallergenic and that the covers are strong enough to prevent material inside the pillow from escaping.

"It has to be a very fine, really tightly woven cloth that allows air to get in but doesn't allow the feathers and down to get out," Williams said.

Hamilton said a thread count of 200 is about average for pillow covers. The higher the thread count, "the better the cover voids migration," he said.

Still, some people may prefer a natural fill, such as 100 percent cotton, that doesn't present as much of an allergy problem as feathers and down, Hamilton said.

Not surprisingly, consumers will pay more for a higher-quality, more luxurious pillow. But it doesn't mean you have to spend $200 to find a pillow that fits your needs.

Prices vary depending on the fill. One with 100 percent goose down will cost more than one with an even amount of feathers and down. The latter would be more expensive than one that carried 95 percent feathers and 5 percent down. A firm down pillow is generally more expensive than a soft one, because it has more fill.

For more tips on getting a better night's sleep read these articles
10 Foods that will help you sleep better
Effects of Snoring
Tips on buying a mattress

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