Many people simply don’t have time to think about it, but pillows do have an expiration date-and they could cause intense pain and other health issues if you fail to replace them in time.
Your Pillow Fails in the “Shoe Test”
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to replace synthetic, feather and down-filled pillows every 16-20 months, and get a new memory foam pillow after you’ve used it for three years. Not sure if its time to buy a new one? A simple test is sufficient to figure it out, says John Breus, PhD, clinical sleep specialist and author of bestseller “The Power of When.” “Fold your pillow in half and then put any shoe on the top,” he says. “If this shoe flips off, rest assured your pillow is still good.”
You’ve Recently Changed your Sleeping Positions
The way you sleep (your sleeping positions) will determine the best pillow for propping your head up comfortably as you sleep. Side sleepers, for instance, may need something thicker to properly keep their heads from tilting towards their shoulders while back sleepers might need a thin pillow for keeping their neck straight. While adjusting your usual sleeping positions-lying flat to avoid shoulder soreness, or switching to your side to stop snoring-your old pillow won’t be able to keep your spine in its natural position anymore, says Dr. Winter, MD, president of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Clinic and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It. If you’ve always been sleeping on your back and now you’re on your side, and need cervical spine up, your current pillow might not be able to give it to you, he says.
You mostly Wake Up Sore
With regular use, you will find your pillow may get beaten down by use and may lose its shape. Its padding that once kept you comfy all the night might not give you the that kind of support anymore. So you may end up spending all night with your spine twisted, and may wake up with neck, back, or shoulder pain-and it may eventually travel down to your hips and even knees. It’s stiff and may take a while to get up.
You don’t Feel Refreshed when you Wake up in the Morning
When you’re in deep sleep, most of the brainwaves traveling through your brain are slow-moving delta waves, which help your body rejuvenate and restore. But any kind of neck pain from your pillow can easily interrupt those deep-sleep brainwaves. When a person is in pain, it can disrupt their sleep patterns. For instance, you may experience something called alpha delta sleep. Once that happens-alpha waves-the ones that are prominent when you’re relaxed and awake-become more active and may beat out deltas, making for a restless night where you fail to enjoy a sound sleep. Don’t miss any of these other signs you aren’t getting enough deep sleep.
You get Tension Headaches more Frequently
Sleeping on any unsupportive pillow stresses your body, and upper areas may start experiencing tension due to improper position. This tension may eventually turn into an intense tension headache. We all hold more stress in our upper neck and arms, and gradually, with time, it may radiate back into the head. Unlike migraine, which may result in pounding pain right behind your eyes, a tension headache due to pillow won’t be so targeted.
Your Posture is no Good when you’re Asleep
You won’t know much about your posture when you’re asleep, so ask your partner to do that for you or set up a small mirror besides your bed to see for yourself. “now imaging an iron rod going right through your skull, down your spine and then ending up at your bum,” says John. If you find your body sagging in spots – especially around your neck area – its time to invest in a new pillow.
You mostly Wake up in the Morning Sneezing
You may usually miss this, but pillows can quickly become a breeding ground for dust mites. With your face resting it all night, those mites could result in asthma or allergies. All those who have dust mite allergies may cough or sneeze or feel contested or not feel as well at night.
Once you wake up for the day, most of these symptoms will probably go away. The best way to go is to go with a brand new pillow for a fresh start, and if your symptoms still continue, consider stashing your pillow in your freezer for at least 24 hours to kill the mites before they lay eggs.