Why Pricey Pillows Are Completely Worth It
There are a few things in life you should never pinch pennies for, like bike helmets, health insurance, a good set of kitchen knives, and of course, bed pillows. Didn't expect to see that last item on this list? Believe it or not, the pillow on which you rest your precious head every night can seriously impact your health, which is why you should do some research before picking one — and don't be afraid to fork up the cash!
Sleep is something every human needs to live a healthy life. Without it, our health can be seriously compromised. Unfortunately, an unsupportive, uncomfortable pillow can keep you up at night, permanently damaging your neck and spine. Plus, cheaper, softer pillows can also lead to sleepless nights, stomach problems and more. Talk about a total nightmare.
So what kind of neck damage are we talking about here? According to Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, a physician at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, it's most important to find “a more rounded pillow [to] help support the natural curvature of your spine.” That means perhaps it's time to get rid of the flat, concave one you've been using for the last three years. Flatter pillows are not supportive and force your head to hang at a bad angle, causing your entire spin to become unaligned.
Still not convinced you should replace your current pillow that costs less than a bottle of wine? Matthew O'Rourke, a physical therapist from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital explains that those soft (and often cheaper) pillows can wreak havoc on your neck. "If your neck is bent in any way for an extended period of time, you'll get uncomfortable," O'Rourke says. That means you're more likely to wake up in the night to re-adjust, resulting in a night of not-so-sound sleep.
On the contrary, sleeping on a stack of pillows in an effort to get more support, can also do major damage to your neck and spine — especially if you sleep on your stomach. Doing this forces your head and neck to hyperextend upward, which can cause a horrible neck ache in the morning. And even if you sleep on your back, a stack of pillows can push your head and neck forward, causing pain and poor posture over time.
Ever wonder why you wake up every morning feeling so tired (even after your third cup of coffee)? There are a number of reasons why this could be happening, but you're likely not sleeping soundly enough. Cheaper pillows that cause you pain or discomfort throughout the night wake you up multiple times, tossing and turning. This can seriously disrupt your sleep cycle, which is why you're feeling super foggy and exhausted throughout the day.
According to an article published in Harvard Health Publishing, losing sleep can have pretty scary long term consequences. "Sleep deprivation can affect mood, thinking skills, and appetite," the article states. That means you'll be more likely to gain unwanted weight, perform poorly at work or school, and be grouchy toward those around you. The article also claims that chronic sleep deprivation "increases your risk for falls, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease."
It may sound funny, but sleeping on an inexpensive pillow without the proper support can actually affect your digestive system. Sure, you don't ever "ingest" the contents of these pillows, but the way your head and neck are positioned can hinder the way you digest food as you sleep. According to Sleep Lab Director Dr. James Mojica at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, sleeping with your body tilted upright — supported correctly — can help symptoms of indigestion and heartburn. Dr. Mojica explains, "Among lifestyle changes, elevating the head to 30 degrees can be effective."
Along with aiding in digestion, strong support in a pillow can also help sinus problems (no more snoring!), sleep apnea, and even some cases of vertigo. But stacking a bunch of flimsy pillows isn't going to cut it. Dr. Mojica recommends well-made wedge pillows for those who need a little extra support and elevation of the upper body.
There are lots of different kinds of pillows out there, all promising to "be the best." But in reality, what may work for one person may not necessarily be the greatest option for someone else. There are plenty of top-tier pillows out there that are well worth your hard-earned cash. And in many cases, they come with a warranty that allows you to try them out before committing to them — after all, it's a big purchase! Bottom line: if you want to feel pain-free and well-rested, it's time to budget for a more high-quality pillow.