A good sleeping pillow has some essential basic characteristics. These basic characteristics are tantamount to the very purpose of a good sleeping pillow. First of all let’s examine common terms to make sure that we know the vocabulary of sleeping pillows in order to make our discussion more effective.
Most pillows are loosely referred to as soft, medium or firm. The pillow industry has never seen fit to try to standardize what these three terms really mean so, we the consumer are left to our own devices to figure out what soft, medium or firm means from one pillow manufacturer to another. It is quite frankly as confusing as heck! Imagine going into a shoe store or a dress shop and have no real knowledge as to how one dress size or shoe size is related to another. Well, until
now, we have had that same confusion when purchasing a pillow. Soft, medium and firm mean nothing from one manufacturer to another.
So, what are the minimum basics of a good sleeping pillow?
First of all, let’s delve into the technical requirements of a good sleeping pillow. One characteristic refers to maximizing “sleep cycles.” (For a further discussion of Sleep Cycles, Click Here.) In order to allow a user to complete a higher percentage of sleep cycles including the highest percentage of REM sleep as possible, and to effectively function as a superior sleep aid, a pillow must:
· allow for and maintain the correct spinal alignment;
· provide a soft support for the entire neck and head area;
· minimize the motion of fill material due to the weight of the head and neck.
In simple terms, we need a pillow that allows for and maintains correct spinal alignment while providing for soft support for the entire neck and head area of the user while simultaneously minimizing fill movement due to the weight of the head and neck.
Sounds pretty simple but not as simple as it sounds until the Pittman Pillow System of sizing solved the problem!
The above requirements are difficult to accomplish simultaneously in a pillow. While some of these objectives can be met in pillows which are traditionally soft or hard, such pillows are deficient in accomplishing all these desired objectives.
When using a soft pillow over a short period of time, correct spinal alignment is not maintained, resulting in spinal suppression/extension problems and associated muscular problems as the muscles attempt to maintain the head in its normal position or muscles remain stretched in a non-ordinary manner. Soft pillows frequently require the fill to be fluffed often which prevents continuous neck and head support. Such soft pillows also do not provide for minimization of fill movement due to the weight of the head and neck. Soft pillows also compress/compact rapidly over multiple periods of use, and lose their original size/thickness definition rapidly.
Hard pillows on the other hand, present a different set of problems. Although hard pillows provide a more stable platform for spinal alignment, the correct thickness of the pillow becomes an important consideration. The user’s neck and head area will only be comfortable if the pillow is fitted or specifically designed for the particular neck/head configuration of the user. The neck muscles are sensitive to inordinate stretches and compressions created by an improperly sized pillow, which results in variations in the desired spinal alignment. Therefore, hard pillows quickly fail to achieve the necessary spinal alignment unless such a pillow is molded or shaped to fit the exact head/neck configuration of the user. The desired soft support for the neck and head area of the user is generally not achieved by such hard pillows. Further, the desired requirement of minimal fill movement is generally not achieved if a hard pillow does not match the user’s particular body configuration.
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