Is Your Pillow Plotting Against You? It’s Time to Change
Since the dawn of humanity, we have had a very delicate relationship with sleep and that relationship would be nothing without a pillow, the thing that truly makes our descent into the land of dreams smooth and effortless - or at least it should.
Rapid changes are happening as we speak, and comfort has been put high on a pedestal of human needs, higher than it ever was. In case you have been snoozing on the latest trends in sleeping, not to worry, we decided to dedicate an article to a trend that is worth investigating: millions of people are abandoning traditional pillows and choosing customizable ones. Is it a fad? Should you jump on board? Keep reading as we give you all the information you need to make the best, informed decision.
Here is what the numbers say
The global pillow market is growing rapidly and by 2025 it is expected to grow to a staggering amount of USD 11.58 billion (Technavio, 2022). There is an even more interesting trend within this market – people are ditching traditional pillows and choosing customizable ones, mostly orthopaedic.
More and more people have been abandoning traditional pillows over the last couple of decades and based on the market trends, just the orthopaedic pillow market alone is growing at a rapid rate and its exponential growth is expected to reach more than USD 4,4 billion in 2026. This is a safe indicator that customers are looking for something more comfortable and better for their health.
Are we losing the battle against neck pain?
We looked into a relevant study (Hurwitz et al., 2018) and found that one of the most common causes of disability among people are neck pain and lower back pain and the research shows that this concerning trend will only keep increasing in the coming decades.
Around 50% of people (Cohen, 2015) who suffer from neck pain do not see an improvement and full recovery, many of them experience pain for years or throughout their entire life.
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc all over the world. The pandemic also worsened the life of everyone who suffers from chronic pain because people with chronic neck or lower back pain could not visit a medical practitioner due to lockdowns and other strict measures. With all the pain treating services being suspended all over the world we are seeing a surge in cases of neck pain that worsened due to neglect.
It is clear that our preferences are changing and that many of us are waking up (pun intended) to the realisation that a traditional pillow and one-sleeping-position-fits-all philosophy simply does not work now and it will not work in the future. Millions of people have turned to customizable therapeutic pillows, and it seems pretty obvious that this is a necessity, not just something that came into fashion and will disappear as a trend tomorrow.
Out with the old: traditional pillows are a thing of the past
Traditional pillows are two pieces of fabric that can be stuffed with many different materials, mostly cotton, feathers, wool, polyester, etc.
Traditional pillows have a lifespan of around two years and those on the higher end can survive up to four years however they can start deteriorating by getting lumpy and losing their shape even earlier.
Most traditional pillows are made from materials that are susceptible to the accumulation of dust, dead skin particles, microbes, and dust mites - those nasty critters that love munching on your dead skin cells (Google at your own risk).
Typically, we can divide pillows into three very distinct categories: bed pillows (for sleeping), ornamental pillows ( we use these for aesthetics), and orthopaedic pillows (used to support our neck).
It is now quite common for people to opt for orthopaedic pillows. Before, orthopaedic, or therapeutic pillows were considered to be used only by those that have some sort of neck or back problems but nowadays more people are looking to prevent pain before it even starts.
What does an orthopaedic pillow do?
Although orthopaedic pillows have been around for quite some time, they are going through a renaissance in which many new varieties are being developed and offered on the market.
All of them have one thing in common, they support your body and enable you to sleep in a correct position, regardless of whether you are a back sleeper, stomach sleeper, or a side sleeper. Still, many people will rush and spend thousands of dollars on the fanciest mattress that they can find and still choose to rest their heads on the worst possible pillow.
An orthopaedic pillow will not just help you align your body correctly, it can help you deal with various ailments such as bad blood circulation, neck pain, recovering from injuries, insomnia, breathing difficulties, etc.
Is your pillow plotting against you?
Perhaps we should rephrase that question and ask: are you plotting against yourself? We tend to completely ignore the fact that our functionality during our wake state relies on our sleep state. Sleepless nights affect our mood and can trigger other health problems. The type of pillow you have might be causing an array of different ailments, many of which can be improved by choosing a proper pillow.
Let's take a look at some of the most common sleep-related disturbances that can be treated by choosing a proper therapeutic pillow.
Neck pain can be easily triggered by the lack of support caused by very soft pillows. If you suffer from any medical condition that has to do with your spine or neck, choosing the softest pillow might not be the best idea. Soft pillows can not only cause neck pain but cause terrible inflammation that can trigger an entire plethora of other issues.
One of the most common mistakes we make when choosing a pillow is that we let the price of the pillow determine our purchase, rather than at its function and quality. When it comes to pillow, he who buys cheap, buys twice. Many are guilty of choosing a pillow that is on the cheaper side of the spectrum while forgetting that they paid a high price that comes with neck pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Orthopaedic pillows cater to your neck and support your entire body while you sleep, regardless of the sleeping position and it typically does not cost more than a nice dinner out.
Millions of people around the world suffer from snoring. This is a very typical condition that happens when our breathing stops during sleep from time to time and the airflow causes the soft tissue in our throat to create the most creative (but unpleasant) sounds. A therapeutic pillow may help you reduce the compression in your airwaves that comes from the head falling back; an unsupportive pillow cannot do that properly.
Although many issues can cause insomnia, more often than not insomnia is a mix of many different issues – both psychological and environmental. These can all add up and cause the worst sleepless night.
Insomnia exhausts the body, the mind and takes away the luxury of much-needed sleep and relaxation. A pillow that does not properly support your head can cause a sense of discomfort and a feeling of being restless and irritable.
In many instances, insomnia can be a sign from your body that you are not sleeping on a proper pillow and that no matter what you do, your body will resist sleeping on something that does not ensure enough comfort.
Investing in your sleep should be a top priority if you suffer from any of the conditions we discussed in this article. There is no point in sabotaging sleep by using traditional pillows if you notice that they simply do not work for you.
Even if you are young and healthy, it is never too late to start sleeping on a proper pillow, neck pain is quite indiscriminate and might be lurking behind the corner.
Cohen, S. P. (2015). Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Neck Pain. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(2), 284–299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.09.008
Hurwitz, E. L., Randhawa, K., Yu, H., Côté, P., & Haldeman, S. (2018). The Global Spine Care Initiative: A summary of the global burden of low back and neck pain studies. European Spine Journal: Official Publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 27(Suppl 6), 796–801. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-017-5432-9
Technavio. (2022). Pillows Market—36% of Growth to Originate from North America. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pillows-market---36-of-growth-to-originate-from-north-america--evolving-opportunities-with-8-hours-llc-throwboy-casper-sleep-inc--17000-technavio-reports-301495091.html