The Inconvenient Truth on How Often You Should Change Your Pillow

If you’re someone who keeps their pillows for a very long time, this is going to be some news that you probably shouldn’t take lying down. While it’s recommended that you replace your mattress every 10 years, medical professionals actually advocate a much shorter service life for those cute pillows that you’ve been clinging to over the years. More on the specific reasons later, but the bottom line is that experts suggest replacing your pillows every two years.  

You may be thinking “gee, 24 months seems like an awfully short lifespan for a pillow, especially since it can take a little while to form a new one just the way I like it.” It also sounds like a significant expense, since some companies will have you believe that it’s necessary to spend a lot of money for comfy goose down pillows. That simply couldn’t be further from the truth, and after you read about what goes on when you lay your head down, you’ll realize that it might be worth the additional expense.

Why the Short Lifespan?

The simple answer to why you should change your pillow every two years is that pillows get extremely dirty in a short amount of time. First, you should consider skin cells. The human body is made up of more than 10 trillion cells, and your skin accounts for 16% of that total number. As you constantly grow new skin cells, your body sheds the older ones as they die off to the tune of 40,000 every hour which adds up to just under one million dead cells in any given 24-hour period. Obviously, your head only accounts for a fraction of your total cell loss, but it’s still enough to contribute significantly to the grime in your pillow.  

After skin cells, the next thing that contributes to the rapid decay of your pillows is the dirt, oil and makeup residue that remains on your face, even after washing. Try as hard as you can to scrub all of that stuff from your skin, it’s virtually impossible to remove everything, and you gradually transfer the leftovers to your pillow while you sleep through the night. Those cute pillows are starting to look a lot less attractive right now, aren’t they?  

One final thing to consider is that dust mites and other critters love to live in the nooks and crannies that pillows provide. In case you were wondering, dust mites are extremely small (less than a third of a millimeter) members of the spider family that make their homes in bedding, pillows and other household surfaces. You may not be able to see them, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, and they’re attracted to the same air pockets that make your favorite goose down pillows warm and comfy.

What is the Impact?

If the mere presence of a pile of discarded skin cells and miniscule arachnids wasn’t reason enough to make you consider a new set of pillows, there are some real health concerns to take into account. First and foremost, dust mites produce digestive enzymes that can cause allergic reactions such as wheezing, which can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Aside from mites, other allergens such as pet dander can also accumulate in your pillow.  

Even if you aren’t particularly sensitive to allergens, you should also take the health of your skin into account. You wash all of that dirt and grime off of your face at the end of the day to make sure that your pores stay clean, so why would you then go and lay down on a pillow full of things that could clog your pores up again? The bottom line is that sleeping on a dirty pillow can lead to acne and a host of other skin conditions.

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the most important thing you can do is keep track of how often you’re changing your pillows, and don’t let them go for longer than two years without replacement. Yes, money is definitely something to consider, but if you’re on a budget, it’s better to buy a few cheap pillows as replacements than continuing to sleep on older pillows that could negatively impact your health. One added bonus is that changing your pillows will allow you to upgrade the way you sleep, and here are a few suggestions.

Gel Pillows

Have you ever had difficulty sleeping because your pillow just refuses to stay at a comfortable temperature? A gel pillow solves that problem by taking the heat that you produce and dispersing it throughout the body of the pillow instead of creating a warm spot where you rest your head. The result is a comfortable night’s sleep without having to constantly wake up and flip your pillow over in a futile quest to stay on the cool side. 

Long Pillows

If you’re looking for some all-around relaxation, consider adding an extremely versatile body pillow to your bed. These long pillows are great for a multitude of uses, the best being that you can wrap your body completely around it to totally envelop yourself in comfort. Body pillows are also great to help prop yourself up to do some reading or watch television, and you can even use them to provide support should you ever need to cuddle up on the floor.  

Therapeutic Options

No sleeper is unique, and everyone has their own personal needs. Pregnancy, snoring and circulation issues are all medical conditions with challenges that can be eased with proper support in bed. Maternity support cushions can help ease stress on the body of an expectant mother. Leg wedges can help people sleep on their sides, which can drastically cut down on instances of snoring. If circulation is your problem, a pillow with a magnetic insert can help increase blood flow. 

Make the Change Today

If you’ve been stubbornly hanging on to the same pillows for the last five or ten years, it’s time to throw them out. Your favorite goose down pillows could be harboring all sorts of things that are detrimental to your health, so you might as well take this opportunity to upgrade. Not only will you have new, cute pillows, you’ll also be sleeping better in a completely clean environment.

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