Your pillow can make the difference between a good night's rest and barely a wink of sleep. It's not the variety of pillow, shape or size that is often your undoing, but its level of cleanliness. Your key to a good night's sleep may lie on a clean and, quite possibly, new pillow.
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The Down and Dirty
How matter how clean you are when you go to bed, eventually, your pillow becomes a resting place for your body and hair oils. These oils cause bacteria, which create a smell. Plus, the stuffing in a pillow attracts dust mites, which cause allergic reactions. Keep bacteria and dust mites at bay by adhering to a regular pillow cleaning schedule and covering your pillows with pillowcases.
Start by washing two pillows at a time, unless you have king-size pillows, which should be washed individually. Wash them in hot water, on the gentle cycle, and with liquid detergent. Powder detergent may leave behind a filmy residue. Rinse the pillows twice before drying them along with two new tennis balls on the low setting. The tennis balls ensure fluffy pillows. Bed pillows filled with cotton or polyester take between one and two hours to dry, while down pillows may take more than two hours.
Your pillow will need to be replaced, despite your diligent cleaning schedule. One sign that it's time to replace the pillow is a week's worth of poor sleeping. But you can perform other tests to determine if it's replacement time. Buy a new pillow if the old one has lumps, is visibly dirty, and no longer feels as comfortable as it once did. Another test is called the fold test. According to the Better Sleep Council, “fold the pillow in half” or in thirds if it's a larger pillow and squeeze out all of the air. When you unfold the pillow, it should refluff to its original fullness. If not, replace it.
Time for a Change
You should purchase a new pillow every year. However, pillows of lesser quality may need to be replaced sooner, while pillows of greater quality may last two years before a replacement is needed. Pillows made of down should last between five and seven years.