Ever had those days when you’d wake up with such a stiff and painful neck that you have to rotate your whole body just to turn and look at things?
I am sure many of us know that having a good pillow is important for a good night’s rest; but did you know that the type of pillows we sleep on every night could be the very cause of our frequent neck aches, back aches, headaches, and even snoring? So that brings us back to square one – how much do we even really know about pillows?
Well, fret not! We’ve done the work for you and compiled everything you need to know in this complete go-to guide to pillows!
1. Why do we need to use pillows?
According to a poll done by the National Sleep Foundation, about 64% of us use 1-2 pillows, while 27% of us use at least 3. But why do we actually use them?
During around 7000 BCE, pillows first came into existence when Eygptians used slabs of stones to prop up their necks and keep bugs from crawling into their ears, mouths, and noses.
Nowadays, the main reason we use pillows is for comfort!
When a person is walking upright, the head and neck are held in vertical alignment. However when you go to sleep, the muscles in your neck and spine relax; causing your head to fall back/forward. This places stress on the neck muscles and triggers neck aches.
Therefore, the easiest way to correct this, is to use a pillow to elevate the head and neck until they are aligned with the spine.
2. Types of Pillow Fillings
There are many pillow fill options out there, but here are a few of the common ones found in the market:
The most popular of them all, Polyester pillows are popular because they are usually machine washable, inexpensive to replace, and easy to find. However, the synthetic stuffing does not provide for good neck support, and is not well ventilated; being uncomfortable for use especially in our humid Singapore weather. (It’s also more inclined to harbouring dust mites – ew!)
Avg. Price Range: $10 – $60
- Memory Foam
Many people like Memory Foam pillows as it eventually moulds to the shape of your head and neck when you lie on them – making them a popular option for those with neck-aches. It is made out of a material called ‘viscoelastic’ polyurethane foam, and was first developed under NASA to improve the safety of their aircrafts’ cushions. However, this pillow is not machine-washable, and is not recommended for use on babies/small children, as they may find more difficulty in turning over resulting in suffocation.
Avg. Price Range: $30 – 80
Competing most directly with Memory Foam pillows, Latex pillows are firm and have great support; making it another top choice for sufferers of neck/shoulder pain. Because of this, they’re also easier to maintain as they rarely need to be fluffed up to get its original shape back. However, they are not machine-washable and if you’re like me and do not appreciate ‘springy’ pillows, you might want to sit this one out.
Avg. Price Range: $30 – $80
Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls, and can be hard to get used to if you usually sleep on fluffy pillows. However, they’re spectacular (especially for the humid weather in Singapore), as it circulates air really well; keeping cool all night long. They are also believed by many in Asia to be good for those suffering from neck aches due to the solid support it gives that is hard to find in most pillows. (My mum and I bought one each for ourselves not too long ago and it’s been so good on our necks thus far!)
Avg. Price Range: $50 – $90
- Organic Wool
Pure, natural, and breathable. Wool pillows are usually hypoallergenic, and are good at adapting to the environments’ temperature. (i.e. It will stay cool during the summer, and warm during the winter) They also have good circulation; preventing the build-up of moisture and a resistance to dust mites. However, they flatten easily overtime, and do not contour to body curvature well.
Avg. Price Range: $70 – $120
- Feather and Down
For those who enjoy a pillow’s ‘plushiness’, Feather and Down pillows are your match. They last longer than polyester, and are lightweight. However, because they are made out of feathers from geese/ducks, they take quite the heat from animal activists due to the apparently unpleasant methods used to gather the feathers/down. They also require higher maintenance as they are recommended to be dry-cleaned instead of machine washed, so you might want to think twice about this one!
Avg. Price Range: Feather $25 – $90, Down $90 – 200 (depending on amount of down content)
3. So…which pillow is best for my neck ache?
If you were to ask me, I’d recommend the Buckwheat pillow. Not just because it is more common to find in Asia, but because they are great for the humid weather in Singapore, environmentally friendly, reasonably priced, and have helped me so much with my neck aches! – but of course, to each its own.
The only way you can truly find out which pillow works best for you, is to try them out yourselves! So don’t be afraid to take your time to pick out the right one for you, and to splurge a little more on them if you have to.
Remember, some things are too important to stinge on – especially when it comes to your health and personal well-being!