Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not all pillows are created equal

     Sooner or later I knew that my private feelings would come out in print. Something like that is impossible to hide under the covers.     
     The truth of the matter is that pillows don’t cross my mind very often, nor do I have a love-hate relationship with my pillow like others known to obsess over buying the best on the market. For me, a pillow is just a necessary essential like shampoo, car maintenance and duct tape.
      I sleep like a baby floating in my dreams with an expensive pillow. On the other side, it takes a few whacks accompanied by a couple grumbles during the night and I survive with a lousy one.

     For discriminating folks, the size of the pillow and the fiber content matters, too. You’re up on the latest jargon - the fluff factor. The most common fills for pillows are down feathers, synthetic/polyester fibers and foam. Consider thread counts. Simply put, the higher the thread count in a pillow the more durable and plush it will feel.
     Sleeping position is relevant – back, side, stomach or mixed sleeping patterns ‒ so folks should give a scientific scrutiny to their normal habits. Choosing the wrong pillow can exacerbate headaches, neck and shoulder tension.

     Over the weekend while in the parking lot of a motel along a busy highway, I saw a young woman with a long ponytail under a Steelers cap clutching a bedroom pillow along with a large purse in one hand and her suitcase in the other. I gathered up my sole suitcase and followed her into the main lobby. Without being nosy and downright asking her, I assumed that she couldn’t leave home without her own pillow. It is something that I have heard others talk about, and more importantly, how their sleep is affected drastically without their usual headrest. For others, it is that creature comfort of having something from home in a strange and new place like carrying a stuffed animal or a special photo.
     Bringing your own pillow is fine, except it doesn’t work as efficiently at the airport TSA, although I’ve seen teens toting them along with oversized Vera Bradley duffels crammed to the gills. They need to be taught how to pack better in my opinion.

     Numerous times in hotels I have not had the ideal rest and I will blame it on the pillow; or should I say, the several oversized ones arranged to create a homey atmosphere. I feel like my head is wedged in like a vice and miss out on the benefit of the super duper deluxe mattress.  Still, no one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes back and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

     When I was staying in a couple small rural Japanese spa retreats, I had the pleasure of resting my head on buckwheat pillows, and both times I ended up throwing them on the floor in disgust. I slept without.
     Buckwheat pillows are meant to be a natural sleep aid. It didn’t work for me. Buckwheat hulls have several advantages over traditional pillow fill like foam or feathers. Most significantly, buckwheat hull pillows do not collapse under the weight of your head. The buckwheat hull fill conforms perfectly to the unique shape of your head and neck providing support that most pillows lack.
     How many travel doughnut pillows have you left behind in one city or another?  They are visible looped to the outsides of luggage and certain people on long distance flights swear by them. I am a minimalist traveler and find them simply one more thing to carry. I can sleep sitting up or slumped over regardless. I will say that the person who invented those sleep aids was pretty smart, and analyzed his market well.
     Which brings me to the fact that I do like a sturdy pillow and I make sure that I keep mine in good condition at home. Before a pillow gets worn, I am not adverse to going out and getting a new one. I remember during my frugal years that I kept a pillow until I could fold it in half.  That was the final sign that the pillow was beyond dead and time for a replacement.

      A poll in the Daily Mail in the UK of nearly 2,200 men and women found that 82 per cent of people do not know how often they should replace their pillows. According to the Sleep Council, pillows should be replaced every two years, or more often if you have allergies or health issues.
     Anything will substitute for the real deal in an emergency. Travelers roll up jackets or rest their heads on their duffel bags in airport lounges.
      My friends who own large dogs use them for pillows when stretching out on the floor. They are so lucky for pet therapy and a quick snooze all rolled into an incomparable moment without the cost of a spa treatment.
     A wedding pillow designed and handcrafted by my late sister is the most priceless family heirloom that I have in my possession. As the matriarch, I am the pillow’s keeper for the time being before it will be passed on to the next generation.   It is a square ivory form with a lacey edge and it is dotted with dainty flowers holding several ribbon streamers in place. For all the cousins’ weddings, she carefully embroidered the name and dates on the back.
     All this hurry-up writing reminds me to buy a couple new pillows. Bring on the January White Sales.