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How to Find the Perfect Pillow for a Good Night’s Sleep

How to Find the Perfect Pillow for a Good Night’s Sleep

Do you wake up in the morning bleary-eyed, groggy and unrested with a crick in the neck? About 75% of Americans suffer from one or more sleep disorders at least a few nights a week, says James Maas, Ph.D, sleep expert, psychologist and author of Power Sleep. You might think the reason you don’t get a good night’s sleep is because you lack a good mattress (which is vital and true), but the pillow you rest your head on at night is equally important.

The adult human head weights between 10 and 12 pounds, depending on the person and how much body fat they have. If you don’t find the right pillow to support the weight of your head in all the right places including the neck through the night, you are likely to suffer from sleep disorder(s). It is critical that you find a pillow that keeps your head in line with your back and spine to prevent potential neck pain and other health problems. Beyond that, your pillow should not lose its fluffiness or deflate quickly.

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But, like most things out there, there is a wide range of pillow options in the market. The choice of the pillow you use is also a very personal matter. Many of us are quite picky when it comes to the pillow we use. So, how do you find the right pillow for you? Sleep experts say there are several factors you should keep in mind to ensure you not only find a comfortable pillow, but also a pillow that suits your sleeping style. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect pillow.

Your Sleeping Position

The way you position yourself in your bed when you go to sleep determines the type of pillow that is perfect for you. If you sleep on your back, a medium to firm pillow that is not too high is right for you. Look for one that molds to your neck’s curve and provides firm support. A water pillow is a good option in this case.

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If you sleep on your stomach, a very slim pillow (or none at all) is perfect for you. Pick a soft one that absorbs the weight of your head, eases the strain on your neck, and reduces stress on your lower back. This helps mitigate many potential health issues and helps you enjoy a good night’s rest.

If you sleep on your side, you need a pillow that wraps around the shape of your neck comfortably. Look for a pillow that provides proper support and keeps your head aligned with your spine.

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Your Size

Pillows are sold in stores in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from small, medium, standard and large. The standard pillow is about 20 inches by 26 inches. If you are six-foot-tall, you will find the pillow a five-foot-tall person finds comfortable does not suite you. So, choose the right sized pillow for you. Your pillow should keep your head and neck well aligned as if you were standing up.

Pregnant women must get the right pillow. This is especially true because most women experience back pain around the eighth and ninth month of pregnancy, says Thomas Holtgrave, N.P., a nurse practitioner specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in Long Beach, California. Thomas recommends a full-body pregnancy pillow shaped like a giant “C” or “U” for women in the middle to late stages of pregnancy. He also advises expectant moms to avoid sleeping on the back because the gravity of a pregnant uterus obstructs blood flow. Sleep on your left side instead to improve circulation.

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Your Pillow Material

Pillows are made from different materials, including polyurethane (memory foam), polyester fiber, and organic products like buckwheat hulls. If you have an allergy, avoid pillows made or filled with material that you are allergic to, such as feather pillows. Feather pillows can worsen allergies and cause you to wheeze and cough at night, says Ronald Kotler, M.D., the medical director of the Pennsylvania Hospital Sleep Disorders Center in Philadelphia and author of 365 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

Choose a hypoallergenic pillow made with synthetic material like polyurethane or polyester fiber if you have asthma or allergies. Hypoallergenic pillows are those pillows least likely to cause allergic responses. Buckwheat hull pillows and some memory foam pillows are hypoallergenic. Check the pillow label or packaging to be sure.

Your Personal Preferences

I use two memory foam pillows in bed because I like to read at night. I find two memory foam pillows remain cool throughout the night and provide the best back support when I am reading. However, I only use one pillow when it is time to sleep. How about you? What are your personal preferences for a pillow? Do you like a squishy, feather pillow for the greatest level of comfort in bed? Maybe you prefer a pillow with the same feel as a wool-filled pillow, but with the firmness of a latex pillow?

There is no single pillow that works for everyone. Identify your personal preferences on pillow firmness, flatness, fluffiness, and size and go for the pillow that meets your needs. Dr. John Corrigan, a chiropractor from Weyburn in Saskatchewan, Canada, advises that you check the support it gives you and make sure that it maintains a proper posture. Try different pillows at the store and experiment with various types of pillows at home to find the perfect one that provides you with the best night’s sleep.

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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