Sleep is the subject of poems and phrases: a cycle of rebirth in which our bodies surrender—we go to sleep—and adventures unfold within the dreamland of the subconscious, an involuntary series of incredible but mostly unrecoverable images; experiences that fade to black once we open our eyes to the dawn’s early light.
If only we got enough sleep.
If only, indeed, because sleep deprivation corresponds to increased risk of depression and anxiety, heart disease, stroke, alcoholism, and type 2 diabetes.
Lack of sleep also lowers productivity, costing employers billions of dollars each year in sick days, lost hours, medical bills, and related expenses.
In summary, the current situation is neither healthy nor natural. The irony being: that what seems natural, the proliferation of prescription medication to induce or extend sleep, is inherently unnatural, given the side effects—from temporary to irreversible—of off-label use of antidepressants and antipsychotics, respectively.
1. Why is the right pillow critical to optimal sleep?
People have different sleep habits and preferences. Which is to say there is no one-size-fits-all pillow. Not when the shape, height, and support a pillow provides varies.
If a pillow aggravates sleep, if it makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep, if it worsens head and neck pain instead of alleviating or eliminating it, that pillow—regardless of how well it works for this or that person—is the wrong pillow for you.
People need to be aware of these facts.
Also, taking this 2-minute quiz clarifies which pillow is right for you.
2. What are the health risks of sleeping on an inferior pillow?
In addition to physical discomfort, which makes it harder to sleep, too many pillows constitute a potential health risk.
Most pillows have large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that break apart forming gases that may cause headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, and even asthma.
I do not use foam that contains chemicals that threaten the health of people or the environment.
Educating consumers about the dangers of prolonged exposure to excess amounts of VOCs should be a public health priority.
3. Why is finding the right pillow more important than choosing which mattress to buy?
A pillow is portable in a way a mattress is not.
You can fit a pillow in a backpack or carry-on language, which is important, because you can sleep on that pillow while in transit; be it aboard a train or plane, or during a night outdoors or a vacation at a 5-star resort. (As a world traveler, I can attest to the fact that some of the otherwise best hotels have some of the most uncomfortable pillows. Do not, therefore, assume that luxury is a guarantee of value or quality. I founded Kozaye, in part, for my own health.)
Also, notwithstanding an unlimited budget, to buy is to choose. That is, if the choice is between a $5,000 mattress and a $119 pillow—if you want the best return on investment—invest in the right pillow.
For example: A pillow that has memory foam that does not trap heat, that keeps you cool all night long, that has all-natural covers made with hemp and bamboo, that has a 3D knit that regulates your body temperature—all of these innovations not only help people find the right pillow, but also sleep better.
Again, look at the fibers and fabrics in a pillow.
Look for clear and verifiable benefits.
4. How can people practice good sleep hygiene?
Finding the right pillow is crucial, obviously, but good behavior is most conducive to sleeping better. In other words, create an environment that is comfortable and inviting—free of distractions such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and too much fluorescent light. Also, reduce your exposure to VOCs and other toxins.
Keep a sleep schedule, so you can track how many hours (on average) you sleep in a week.
Use that data to set realistic goals about the quality, length, and consistency of your sleep.
5. And finally, why should the bedding and sleepwear industry support a natural solution to sleep hygiene?
Sleep is a sacred experience, or it should be, where the body rests and rejuvenates itself.
Polluting that ritual—contaminating it with shoddy contents and little or no quality control—is an indictment of the sleepwear industry.
To the industrious, and I count myself among those who revere the benefits of work and sleep, my industry has a duty to pursue excellence and innovation. Put another way, good sleep hygiene is impossible with an unhygienic attitude toward by unethical or dubious business practices.
Doing the right thing is right—period.