Tuesday, 19 June 2018

What’s the big deal about latex pillows?

What’s so special about them compared to all the others on the market?
Buying a pillow is a bit like buying a new car in that it doesn’t matter what type you get, it will do its job. A pillow will help get you through the night and a car will help you get from A to B. For some transcendent folk it’s as simple as that. Any pillow will do, any car will do. ‘Where are the lentils, man?’
For most people though, it isn’t quite like that.
Everybody knows the difference between a Lada Riva and a Rolls Royce. They know that all Rollers are ever so comfortable and reliable and long lasting and a dream to drive. While the Lada only has heated rear windows so you can warm your hands while pushing - and doubles in value when you fill it with petrol.


Apart from the obvious fact that cars are expensive, over their lifetime the average driver will cover enough distance to take them to the moon and back 3 times and spend a total of 4.3 years sitting behind the wheel, so buyers tend to be discerning. They think about price range, quality, reliability, economy, comfort, size, shape, colour, aspiration and suitability; knowing that the more research and effort that goes into choosing, the greater the likelihood of ending up with the right car.
And so it should be for anything to do with your bed, which is where you spend a whopping 26 years of your life. 6 times longer than in your car. Good sleep is vital to the health and wellbeing of all living creatures. Bats are grumpy if they get less than 20 hours sleep per day, while giraffes are happy as Larry with only 2 hours per night. The ideal for gorillas is 10 hours, while we humans need 7 or 8 hours of quality sleep.
There are a number of things that determine the quality of your sleep. What you do during the day is important. Looking after yourself with a sensible diet and reasonable exercise is a good start. Unwinding before going to bed and keeping regular hours will also help. A quiet, well ventilated and dark bedroom is a must. But the real key to good sleep is your bed and bedding.
A good quality, really comfortable mattress that is supportive in all the right places to keep your spine in alignment is vital. Choosing bedding that keeps you at your ideal temperature all night long is also tremendously important. But the one ingredient that is often given little thought and yet will make all the difference in the world is your PILLOW.
A good pillow supports and cradles your head and neck and works in conjunction with the mattress at keeping your spine in alignment. A good pillow can also provide supreme comfort. A good pillow can be the icing on the cake that can turn a reasonable night’s sleep into superb, healthful sleep at comparatively little extra cost. Why on earth would you sleep on a Lada, when you can afford to sleep on a Rolls-Royce?
And here’s the thing – most people in Australia spend night after night trying to sleep on broken down old Ladas! For 26 years of their lives. They buy $10 pillows without really thinking about it. Or maybe pay $20 or even $30 for virtually the same pillow under a well-known brand label that advertises and promotes. They don’t think about what the pillow is made of, what is inside it, how much support will it provide, how long will it last, how high is it, how firm or soft is it, how healthful is it – and ultimately is this really the best value I can get for my money?
For most of my life I’ve slept on one model Lada after another. When I was a kid there wasn’t really any choice, my father worked for the British Colonial Service in what was then Tanganyika and we all slept on government issued kapok fill pillows and mattresses. Remember the ubiquitous old striped ticking design?


Actually this wasn’t such a bad pillow in that kapok is all natural, hypoallergenic and naturally antimicrobial – but it is lumpy and bumpy and flattens down, so offers poor support to the neck and shoulders. At boarding school aged 7, part of the morning ‘making the beds’ ritual was giving the pillows a good shake to get some loft back into them. Imagine 12 boys to a dormitory; the urge to pillow fight was too often irresistible, with kapok flying everywhere. And then big trouble from Matron McBride who was a lovely old duck, but handy with the strap.
Other popular fillings for pillows back then were also natural – cotton fibre and wool, both with similar properties to kapok - and feathers, which tended to include mainly larger feathers that scrunched and the quills poked through. Ouch.
Then, as I got into my teens, synthetic fibres invaded the world of pillows and have pretty much ruled ever since because, for less cost, synthetic fibres create more loft and comfort than natural fibres. The most commonly used fill fibre for pillows is polyester, which is produced directly from polymer, an oil derivative. Polymer is the end result of oil being ‘cracked’, then ‘oxidised’ with air, and hydrated.
Solid polyester fibre is quite dense and flattens quickly, so hollow fibre, imagine tiny miniature macaroni, was developed that resists flattening. From there companies like DuPont and Honeywell developed all kinds of polymer based fibres with two holes, three holes – all the way up to seven holes in each tiny fibre. Other innovations included siliconizing fibre in a bath treatment, to make it softer and further improve loft recovery; and crimping to make it frizzy. Fancy marketing names were applied to add extra sizzle. Think Dacron, Tencel, Modal, Coolmax, Tactel, Fortrel and most recently, Microfibre.
It was soon discovered that a big problem with fiber fill pillows is that they are a brilliant medium for cultivating bacteria. Almost unbelievably, after only 2 years use, over 30% of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bacteria, bed bugs, dust mites (and their faeces), fungi, mould and dead skin. How horrible. So manufacturers started spraying fibre with chemicals to combat bacteria, microbes and dust mites. Sanitized, Healthguard and Ultrafresh are well known registered brands of these chemicals, which vary in degrees of necessary toxicity - and are only effective for a limited amount of time anyway. The biggest pillow manufacturer in this country, Tontine, strongly recommends renewing fiberfill pillows every two years!


Today over 95% of pillows sold in Australia are synthetic fibre filled. Some fibres obviously perform better than others and this is reflected in the price, but health issues aside, all fiberfill pillows lose loft after about two years and may still be reasonably comfortable, but no longer provide the required support to your head and neck.
By now my career had taken me from 25 years running a clothing business to a sourcing role in homewares which involved finding suppliers for finished goods and raw material componentry for various products including mattresses, manchester, quilts and pillows – under some of the best known and most loved brand names in Australia.
We marketed pretty much every type of pillow there is and my wife was delighted we were afforded a golden opportunity to discard our horrible Lada’s to try sleeping on every Rolls Royce model pillow there is. I was also exposed to years of extensive pillow research – and what a revelation that was!
Once you go past fiberfill there are three pillow types that stand out as being superior. Feather and down, memory foam, and latex pillows. They are all significantly more expensive – but well worth taking the leap (like most people, something I probably would never have done had I had to pay normal retail price).
Feather and down makes a great pillow so long as it is good quality and the feathers have been properly processed to remove any odour. This entails washing in very hot water umpteen times (no toxic chemicals).The best of these have three chambers with lovely soft down at top and bottom for comfort, and the middle chamber filled with small feathers for loft. Feather is naturally antimicrobial so there is no need for any nasty chemicals. They retain height very well, but the only drawback is they do need to be regularly fluffed up.
Health professionals like memory foam pillows. They sink inwards with the weight of the head to create neutral skeletal alignment and reduce pressure points. Then, almost by memory, they slowly return to normal height. They are long lasting, antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. Manufacturers love talking about how memory foam was developed by NASA scientists for the comfort of astronauts during space travel. Fans love them.
I am not a fan. Memory foam is visco polyurethane – an oil derivative. They are heavy. People can have difficulty breathing through the nose because their heads sink in so far. Memory foam cannot breathe so sleeps hot and has a chemical odour. They are simply not for me.
I have a great love for my latex pillow. I can’t sleep properly without it and take it on holidays. It can breathe so sleeps cool. It is antimicrobial, dust mite resistant and hypoallergenic. It will perform as good as new for about 15 years. Most of all it is wonderfully supportive and comfortable. Choose the height and firmness that best suits and you are away. You won’t look back. Trust me. Or if you don’t want to trust me, ask your chiropractor. The Bed King offers the best latex pillows to give you the best benefits of latex pillows.

A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Pillow

Are you sleeping on the right kind of pillow?

We all sleep differently, and we all have different needs, so it follows that we may need different types of pillows to give us the best night’s sleep.
If you’re not sure which kind of pillow is right for you, follow these simple steps to find out.

Most of us have a go-to sleeping position that we adopt and usually maintain throughout the night. You may not realise it, but the position you like to sleep in largely dictates the kind of pillow you should be sleeping on in terms of thickness and firmness.

Do you know which position you usually sleep in?

If you’re not sure, spend a few nights paying attention to and taking note of the position you go to sleep in and the position you wake up in. If it’s largely the same position over and over again, you’ll know this is the position you sleep in most of the time. If it’s always different, that’s OK; there’s a pillow type for you too.
Here are the four main sleeping positions and the best pillow types to suit them:

Stomach sleeper – If you lie flat on your front with your head to one side, you should look for a relatively flat, soft pillow or even use no pillow at all. This is because you’ll need to keep your neck aligned with your spine in order to avoid neck pain and posture problems from straining your neck throughout the night, and thinner pillows help you do this.

Back sleeper – If you like to sleep on your back, you should aim for a pillow of medium thickness and firmness. If your pillow is too thick, your head will be pushed forward at an uncomfortable angle, and if it is too thin and soft your head will sink too far back towards the mattress. A medium thickness should keep your neck and spine well aligned for a comfortable sleep.

Side sleeper – If you’re a side sleeper, which is one of the most common positions, you’ll need a pillow that is both thick and firm in order to support your neck and keep it aligned properly with the spine. If your pillow is too soft, your neck and head will lie at a very unnatural angle to your spine and can lead to neck pain.

Mixed sleeper – If you find yourself sleeping in all sorts of positions throughout the night, you should choose a fairly soft pillow of medium thickness. This will allow you to remain comfortable in a variety of positions, and provides a happy medium in terms of support from all angles.

Now that you know what thickness and firmness you should be aiming for, it’s time to look at fillings. Your filling will somewhat dictate how thick and firm your pillow is, so getting this right is very important.
Also affecting your choice of filling are personal preference, allergies and price. Here are the four main types of pillow fillings and their attributes:

Synthetic microfibre pillows

Microfibre pillows are great for sleepers who suffer from asthma or allergies, as they are hypo-allergenic with purely synthetic hollowfibre fillings. Microfibre pillows also come in a range of thicknesses and levels of firmness, so you can find a pillow that perfectly suits your sleeping position. Synthetic pillows also tend to be budget friendly, costing less than wool or feather and down pillows.

Wool or cotton pillows

Another great selection for those suffering from severe allergies, cotton and wool pillows are resistant to mold and dust mites and are naturally very soft. Wool pillows do tend to be rather thick and firm, however, so these may not be the best choice for you if you’re a stomach sleeper. Because of their natural fibres, wool and cotton-filled pillows do tend to be further up the pricing scale than synthetic choices.  

Goose and duck feather pillows

Duck and goose feather pillows tend to be the most luxurious, and are therefore among the most expensive on the market, so make sure you take this into account. As they are filled with the inner plumage of ducks and geese, these pillows are understandably often avoided by those who suffer from animal allergies and asthma. However, if you don’t suffer from allergies, these natural pillows are great for providing varying levels of support and are very soft and breathable.

Memory foam pillows

If you suffer from neck or shoulder pain, memory foam pillows can be very helpful in keeping you comfortable and providing firm support for your neck. The main downside to memory foam pillows is that the foam is not very breathable, but the level of support makes them a very comfortable option for side sleepers in particular.

Once you’ve found your ideal pillow thickness, firmness and filling, you’ll want to keep your pillows well protected. To keep them clean and in tip top condition, you should use pillow protectors which will help shield your pillows from sweat, body oils, hair products and saliva.

You can buy hypoallergenic pillow protectors if you suffer from allergies, or you can go for a touch of luxury with super soft Egyptian cotton pillow protectors. Whichever type you choose, make sure you change and wash your pillow protectors regularly to keep everything fresh and hygienic.

Having the right pillows is one thing, but knowing when to replace them is just as important. Not all types of pillows have the same life span, and once they start to sag they will no longer provide the support you need, or the same level of comfort.

So how do you know if your pillow needs replacing? A foolproof trick is to simply place the pillow over your arm. If it stays rigid and holds its shape, it’s still in perfectly good nick. If, however, it sags over your arm, it might be time to replace it.

If you’re at the stage where you need to replace your pillows, or if you’ve realised you’re using the wrong pillow type - visit The Bed King in your area or view their range of various pillows.