The Perfect Pillow
Most of us look forward to the cozy comfort of our beds and a night of refreshing sleep at the end of a busy day. But what many of us don’t realize is that our pillows can be standing in the way of complete relaxation, and they may even be causing us more tension. Finding the prefect pillow can help your muscles relax and your mind to shut off. But with so many choices, where does a person begin? For a better night’s sleep, you may want to try a synthetic pillow with natural fibers and fills. Synthetics can be more hostile to allergens and asthma triggers than natural pillows. Mindy Pennybacker of Green Guide says you should also have a zippered protector made of organic woven cotton for your pillow, which is as effective at blocking allergens as the vinyl alternatives without the possible harm from formaldehyde and phthalates. A quality pillow can cost anywhere from $40 to $200, but regular washing and a good protector can help your pillow last as long as 10 years.
Goose Down Goose Down is a soft fill and is ideal for those who are stomach sleepers. Chiropractors frown on this position for sleeping but with a low loft, the stomach sleeper can minimize neck and back strain.
Expose your goose down pillow to fresh air and sunlight for several hours each month. You may machine wash your pillows on cold cycle, if needed, and tumble dry on low. Add a dry towel to the dryer to help absorb any excess water.
Hypodown, a combination of down and milkweed fibers, is a natural alternative to straight down feathers and can help prevent allergic reactions to dusty feathers in down pillows.
Hypodown Harvester 600, 700, or 800; $99.95 – $239.95
Organic Wool Organic wool offers a high loft and firmer support for the side sleeper or anyone who prefers more elevation. Wool can also help regulate the body’s temperature. You can renew a pillow’s loft by tumble drying it for 10 to 15 minutes on a cool setting.
To clean spots on a wool pillow, spritz with three parts water to one part vinegar. Freshen the pillow by exposing it to fresh air and sunlight for a few hours each month.
Good news for those with allergies: dust mites don’t like living in wool! Wool is also naturally resistant to fire — ideal for those with a sensitivity to fire retardant chemicals. However, lanolin is found on some wool and is a common allergen for some people.
Virgin Wool-fill Bed Pillow; $35 youth; $55.00 – $88.00
Organic Cotton A new organic cotton pillow with a mid-range loft can help the back sleeper drift off. The downside to this pillow choice is that cotton compresses over time, turning your once-ideal back sleeper pillow into a low loft pillow better suited for a stomach sleeper.
To care for a cotton-filled pillow, machine wash on cold. For balance, you should dry two pillows together. A tennis ball can help in fluffing the pillows during machine drying. To absorb more water and reduce drying time, add a dry towel to the cycle. Cotton is less likely to breed mildew and bacteria due to its fast drying capability, making it ideal for most allergy sufferers.
Ecobedroom Organic Cotton Filled Pillow; $55.99 – $79.99 Travel Size $33.99
Natural Latex Foam Natural latex foam pillows can be molded into various densities and shapes to match the support needed for your back, neck, and shoulders; this helps reduce pressure by redistributing the weight of your head and upper body.
Wash latex foam pillows by hand in warm water with a delicate detergent. Do not wring; press out excess water with a dry towel. Lie the pillow flat to dry and keep it out of direct sunlight.
Dust mites can’t live in latex and mildew won’t thrive on it either, making it a great choice for allergy sufferers, although you should avoid these pillows if you are allergic to latex!
Ecobedroom Molded Natural Latex Pillow; $69.99 – 89.99 Contour Latex Pillow; $79.99 – $89.99
Organic Hulls Buckwheat hull pillows are great for helping your spine to align while relieving muscle tension. You may need some time to adjust to these pillows because the hulls are harder than other fills. Zippered cases help control density and pillow height because they allow you to remove and add hulls, which are loose in the bag, in order to adjust to your own comfort level. To clean buckwheat pillows, rinse hulls in a bath of cool water and lay them out to dry before returning them to their case. Machine wash the casing in hot water twice a month.
Air circulates very easily through the hulls making an inhospitable environment for dust mites and microbes. A “triple clean” label ensures dust and mold have been removed.
Oasis Organic Buckwheat Pillows; $88.00 – $108.00 Ecobedroom Buckwheat Pillow; $44.99 – $64.99