January 14, 2020
You can customize your car, your pizza, your sneakers, and now, your pillow. If you get “all bent out of shape” when you lay your head down for a night’s sleep, this might just be the product for you.
While adjustable pillows may not generate the buzz weighted blankets did a couple of years ago, manufacturers are banking on their popularity. “Some 50% of the pillow models released in the last six months have some sort of customizable feature,” Bill Tuck, co-founder of Tuck.com, a sleep resource website, told The Washington Post recently.
While mattresses usually get the blame when you don’t sleep well or when you wake up with a sore back, a pillow is as (or more) important, Philip Schneider, an orthopedic spine surgeon practicing in Chevy Chase, Maryland, told the news outlet. “Without a comfortable, appropriate pillow, you’re likely not to have a good night’s sleep.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Gil Kentof, a chiropractor in Franklin, Tennessee, who specializes in neck and shoulder pain, the Post says. “The problem is not your head, but your neck, and finding something to fill the gap between your head and shoulders so your head and spine are aligned.” He and Schneider agree that side sleepers are the most likely to benefit from a customizable pillow.
Adjustable pillows typically fall into two types: fill or insert. Those sold by Layla, Coop Home Goods, and Snuggle-Pedic are stuffed with small chunks of shredded memory foam and microfibers. Unzip the cover, remove the fill to suit and store the excess in a zip-lock bag.
Either style allows you to increase or decrease the loft (thickness) and/or firmness. Expect to pay between $50 and $125, or about the same as a premium down or memory foam pillow.
A stiff, sore neck sent Julie Ward hunting for a new pillow, the Post recounts. The Nashville-based public relations consultant was convinced that she could find the perfect one at a bargain price from a big-box retailer. Complicating matters: She wanted king-size pillows, which are not only larger, but also thicker.
“I scrutinized all the regular pillows, bought the one that seemed best and brought it home. What seemed perfect in the store would be too thick when I went to bed,” she recalls. “I would return to the store, find another promising pillow, lay it on a flat surface, awkwardly rest my head against it and leave full of optimism.” None worked. After three shopping trips, Ward had nothing to show for her efforts except three new pillows for overnight guests.
At that point, she told the newspaper, she turned to online retailers for customizable options and found a Snuggle-Pedic adjustable model. Ward unzipped the cover and removed some of the stuffing, repeating the process several times until it was her preferred height. “You can’t go wrong with a pillow that is totally adjustable. It’s a foolproof option,” she says.
Take your sleep position into account. According to Schneider, side sleepers need a fuller pillow to prevent the neck from tilting. Stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow, so the head doesn’t hyperextend backward. Back sleepers should opt for a thin to midsize pillow so as not to flex the head forward. Consider body size as well. Those with really big shoulders or chests may have to adjust accordingly to find a pillow that supports the nape of the neck and keeps the head aligned with the body.
Be prepared for a trial run. Multiple factors affect sleep, including temperature, noise, light, what you ate for dinner, and even the day’s news. If you are restless that first night, give your pillow a chance. You may have to play with it a bit. Expect a break-in period of a week or so as your body adjusts.
Ensure it is washable. While it’s important to wash your pillowcase on a regular basis, if you are investing in an adjustable pillow, which is likely to last several years, experts advise that you get one that is machine washable or at minimum has a removable cover that you can wash.
Research contact: @washingtonpost