A play-by-play on pillows

Everyone sleeps. Everyone also knows that finding the perfect pillow is about as challenging as finding that proverbial needle in a haystack. A caregiver is an even more challenging situation when faced with picking a pillow for a loved one.
It’s important to understand that people fall into two distinct types of sleepers: the first has no sleeping abnormalities or disorders, and the second does. More than 40 million Americans have sleep disorders, says the National Sleep Foundation. Eighteen million people in that group have an anatomical abnormality of the head and neck.
Normal sleepers
Someone who is considered a normal sleeper just needs to pick a pillow that is comfortable and soothing. Professionals say the focus should be creating an environment that will transition a loved one into an undisrupted sleep.
Soft materials can be found in higher thread count linens, and silk and organic materials are also sought after to assist skin comfort. These fabrics usually are hypoallergenic, a bonus for many people. Wool covers are flame resistant, and aid in the prevention of mold and mildew.
For the pillow filling, goose down, buckwheat or Dux are popular options and can be worth the expense if they offer the more comfortable and deep night’s rest.


The other sleepers
This population has a harder time picking the perfect pillow. Individual muscle and skeletal pains make pillow finding a chore and with many options to try, a costly endeavor. It’s hard to know which one to pick, though considering individual symptoms is a helpful way to start.
For those who snore:
Traditional pillows are not the best solution for snorers, but ones that help with side sleeping typically are a good fit. Side sleeping helps a person’s jaw and tongue stay in a forward position, and lessens the risk of snoring and sleep apnea. Inclining pillows also help those who snore.
For those with arthritis or chronic pain:
Good support is a necessity for anyone with arthritis or chronic pain conditions.  Pillows that conform to and then cradle a loved one’s neck help maintain position and support throughout the evening, or sleep period.  Firm support pillows and contouring pillows such as memory foam give this advantage.
Water pillows have also been shown as a benefit to this group, as they allow the pillow to adapt to the neck. Studies involving the benefits of roll pillows have been inconsistent and have shown difficulty in maintaining their shape, staying in place or providing adequate support, says Somerset Medical Center.
For those with asthma and allergies:
There are many choices of hypoallergenic pillows on today’s market. This has been good news to those dealing with asthma and allergies. Studies show that for those living with these conditions, the quality of sleep greatly improves when using these types of pillows, though the pillow itself has not shown to improve the actual condition.
Conventional wisdom was that down pillows aggravate those with allergies and should be avoided, but more recent opinion suggests that synthetic fibers actually made people wheeze more. Feathers are also seem to reduce sensitive dust mite allergens in a home.  
Speaking of dust mites, a pillow case that limits exposure to these are a best bet for loved ones with allergies. A higher thread count is softer and also gives the mites less access to the fill material in the pillow.
Discuss sleeping concerns with a loved one, and then seek the best option. A little pre-planning can save time, money and give both caregiver and loved one a good night’s sleep.

Today’s Caregiver magazine (caregiver.com), launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. © Caregiver.com, Inc.