Remember when the only choice for your sleep pillow was feather or foam?
Wow, those days are sooo gone.
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times on specialty pillows shows that the number of choices have exploded like feathers in a pillow fight.
There are pillows for snorers, side sleepers, stomach sleepers and back sleepers, as well as people with allergies, headaches, acid reflux, tinnitus, neck pain, even worries about facial wrinkles.
There are pillows to help support the abdomen during pregnancy, and pillows to help support the back and knees to reduce lower-back pain.
There are wedges and "bedges" (think bed-size wedge) and even a pillow with circles of tiny plastic spikes that supposedly simulate the effect of acupressure on your scalp, to reduce headache and neck pain.
Can't decide whether you want your pillows filled with feathers or foam? Or some of both? You can choose from seven different types of "special fill" specialty pillows on The Company Store's website.
On the Make Me Heal website there are (no kidding) 17 categories of specialty pillows, including ear pillows, breast pillows and something called "husband pillows."
The Times article also provides a rundown of many of the new specialty choices, with links and prices.
Obviously, the best pillow for sleeping will depend on the person, but choosing the right one is important. A 2007 study found that a pillow even an inch too high could cause neck and back pain and reduce sleep quality in older adults.
And if you haven't bought a new pillow in more than two years, it's time. Click here for how to test to see if your pillow needs to be replaced.
Keep these tips in mind:
- If you sleep on your back (good for preventing facial wrinkles, by the way), you need a medium-firm, thinner pillow to avoid straining your neck; for neck support, the pillow's bottom third should have extra padding.
- If you sleep on your side (best for snorers), you need a firmer pillow with enough cushioning to provide support for the space between your ear and the top of your shoulder.
- If you sleep on your stomach, you need a soft, thin pillow to keep your neck aligned properly.
In other health news:
Half of women have sleep apnea. Reuters reports that fully half of 400 women given overnight sleep tests in a new Swedish study turned out to have mild-to-severe sleep apnea. Among the women participants, 56 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 75 percent of those 55 to 70, had sleep apnea. Among women who had high blood pressure or who were obese, 80 to 84 percent had the sleep disorder.
Ginkgo biloba doesn't prevent Alzheimer's. Taking the popular dietary supplement ginkgo biloba didn't prevent Alzheimer's disease in older adults, according to the biggest study in Europe, USA Today reports. Nearly 3,000 people over age 70 with memory problems were followed by researchers for five years. In the ginkgo biloba group, 61 people were diagnosed with likely Alzheimer's disease, versus 73 people in the placebo group. The difference was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance.
Photo: Joi via flickr; Halsa Swedish acupressure pillow