Fluff and common sense: your pillow questions answered

FEELING FRESH: Flipping and fluffing your pillow almost every day will increase its lifespan. Photo: Supplied

FEELING FRESH: Flipping and fluffing your pillow almost every day will increase its lifespan. Photo: Supplied

Choosing the right pillow can be quite a minefield and given the number of hours your rest your head on one, something you want to get right. We asked the team at Australian bedding company Woolstar for their expert advice, with just enough fluff.

What should you consider when purchasing a pillow?

Aside from your mattress, a good pillow is the most important bedding item since it supports your head and neck and promotes proper body alignment while sleeping. At the end of the day, your bedding has one job: to give you a great night's sleep. If you've been waking up with a sore neck and shoulders, it might be time to replace your pillows. Consider your sleeping position, desired pillow firmness, pillow size, and filling type to help you buy the right pillow for maximum comfort and the best night sleep.

What are the most common types of filling?

Memory foam, cotton and wool.

Wool is extremely breathable and has the unique ability to absorb moisture and draw it away from the skin. These wicking properties improve natural airflow around the head, keeping you cool and dry all night long. Reduced overheating means a more comfortable night's sleep.

Why is the sort of pillow you use relevant to how you sleep?

The right pillow is of course subjective, there are a few guidelines that might help, depending on how you sleep.

  1. If you sleep on your stomach, a thin pillow or in some cases, no pillow at all may be good for you.
  2. If you sleep on your side, you'll want a pillow that keeps your neck straight to follow the curve of your back.
  3. Back sleepers just need enough height that their head is well supported.
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How should you care for your pillow?

After buying a new pillow, it's a good idea to remove all of the tags to prevent them scratching you through the pillowcase. Purchasing a pillow protector is great, as it works as a barrier against oil and dirt that can work their way into the fibers and filling.

If your washer is big enough to fit pillows, you should be able to launder them at home following the instructions on the original label. Make sure you use a gentle cycle to wash them and if possible, set it for two rinse cycles to eliminate any soap from the filling of the pillows. Spin dry the pillows more than once to get rid of as much moisture from the pillows as you can to prevent mold or mildew growth.

Drying pillows in the machine ensures that they're not wet inside. As they're drying, fluff and turn the pillows a few times during the cycle to help them return to their original shape and to keep the filling inside loose. To ensure that the inside of all pillows is completely dry, hang them in a dry place for a few days before you put cases on them and use them in bed.

Even the most luxurious pillow doesn't guarantee comfort without the right pillowcase. Higher thread count pillowcases and even satin pillowcases can feel wonderful to sleep on. Have more than one set of pillowcases so you always have clean ones available and change them weekly to reduce dust mite allergens and keep the linens smelling fresh.

Should you rotate your pillow?

Flipping and fluffing your pillow almost every day will increase the lifespan of the pillow. This can be done with most pillows (excluding foam pillows) and will keep your pillows comfortable and supportive for longer.

How often should you replace a pillow and what's the best way to dispose of it?

Most experts recommend replacing pillows every one to two years to helps ensure you're using pillows that are supportive, clean and free of allergens.

Unfortunately, unlike many unwanted items made from cardboard, certain plastics, aluminium and paper, you technically cannot recycle your old pillows - many pillow fillings and coverings can contain potentially harmful synthetic materials and chemicals such as polyester fibres. However if you use a natural fibre such as wool, this pillow can break down and decompose into the ground, so the wool can be recycled and even used in compost, which gives the soil many nutrients.

When pillows are past their prime they can still serve a purpose elsewhere - why not use them as a knee pillow for gardening or even a pet bed for your furry friends?

This story Fluff and common sense: your pillow questions answered first appeared on The Canberra Times.