You did everything by the book: you went to bed early, stopped looking at your phone a half hour before bedtime, and attempted to get a full eight hours of shut-eye.... only to spend the night tossing and turning, waking up the next morning tired and groggy with a stiff neck and sore back. While insomnia might be the culprit, there is one other factor that may be inhibiting your ability to get a good night's sleep: your pillow.
The right pillow is more than just a fluffy surface to rest your head. When you're lying down for eight hours at a time, maintaining proper spine and neck alignment is crucial. Whether you're a back, stomach, or side sleeper, the perfect pillow should offer proper support, cradling your neck and spine. When a pillow has lost its support, it can cause neck and back pain - as well as leave you exhausted and cranky.
How else can you tell when it's time to refresh your pillow? If you've had a down-filled pillow for more than two to five years, chances are it's time to replace it. For those who prefer a super squishy pillow, you may want to hang on for five years. If you like a firmer pillow, you may need to replace every two or three years, as goose down tends to flatten quite quickly. As we sleep on our pillows for eight hours every night (which amounts to a whopping 2,920 hours every year!), they absorb our body oils, dead skin cells, and perspiration. The more your pillow absorbs, the more it will lose its shape and become uncomfortable to sleep on. (TIP: Using pillow protectors will definitely prolong your pillow's life span!)
If you're unsure if your pillow has lost support, try this simple trick: fold your pillow in half. If the pillow bounces back with a spring, it's still in good shape. If it stays folded in half like a burrito and doesn't budge, your pillow is officially past it's prime, and will not offer the support you need.
BURRITO PILLOW = TIME TO REPLACE!
If you have a synthetic pillow, you may need to replace it more frequently, as often as every year. Give the pillow a squeeze to ensure that the fill isn't lumpy - another sign that it's time to swap in a fresh pillow.
And remember, when it comes time to buy a new pillow, don't forget the pillow protector! As mentioned above, it's not just a nice-to-have item - it's an essential. The pillow protector adds an additional layer between your face and the pillow, preventing the pillow from yellowing and absorbing body oil and other debris. It also protects against dust mites.