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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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