A Medical View of the Pillow, from the American Sleep Association

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By Dr. Neil Kline, American Sleep Association

The science of sleep is evolving rapidly, but one thing we’ve known since the dawn of man is that being comfortable leads to better rest. A large part of that comfort is selecting the correct pillow and other bedding.

Having a comfortable and healthy pillow is an important component of healthy sleep. Having a bad pillow can have a negative effect on the quality of your sleep, which in turn can have an impact on your daytime performance and overall health.

Adequate sleep is an integral part of health. Although there is much that we do not know about sleep, scientists have discovered that it is vital to our well-being. Without adequate sleep, the body is not able to perform at its maximum efficiency. A laundry list of critical body functions are compromised without a good night’s sleep, as well as things like memory, concentration, and mood.

Since the pillow and other bedding are the closest items to our head when we sleep, it is logical to conclude that it can influence sleep. One of the most important variables to consider with bedding is comfort. If it is not comfortable while you’re trying to go to sleep, it probably will not be comfortable during sleep. Improper bedding can lead not only to a poor night’s sleep, but also sore muscles due to improper sleeping positions.

Comfort is not the only variable to consider with pillows. There is data that suggests that surrounding allergens could impact sleep. For this reason, it is important to have a pillow that is not having a negative effect on breathing during sleep. People with known environmental allergies or asthma should regularly replace pillows and/or use pillow encasement products. It is recommended that you replace your pillow every year to 18 months.


Dr. Neil Kline is a representative of American Sleep Association. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.  For more information on the ASA, visit their website.  To learn about a wide range of quality sleep products, visit SleepBetter’s Recommended Products page.

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