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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 May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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