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Green Zzzz's: Choosing a Better Pillow

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To most of us, sleep is sacred, but the place you lay your head may not be the healthiest if you've never put much thought into it. We break down what you need to know about green pillows. (And we're not talking decor choices here!)

Some Overall Considerations:

  • No matter what stuffing you choose, look for pillow covers that are made from organic cotton. Look for at least 300+ thread count for the best wear and durability. 
  • Figuring out your sleep style is the first step to determine what filling will be best for you. Are you a side sleeper? A back sleeper? The position you most often wake up in the morning is your best indicator of your sleep style. If you're a side sleeper, you need a thicker pillow to fill the space your shoulder takes up. Back and stomach sleepers can get away with a much thinner pillow.
  • Consider using a secondary pillow cover to create a barrier to prevent dust mites.
  • Fluffing your pillow each morning will help maintain its shape and loft.
  • Learn how best to clean your pillow; some pillows can be tossed in the wash, others should be spot-cleaned. You can also put your pillow in a plastic bag and freeze it to kill dust mites.
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From the Organic Authority Files

Natural Fiber Stuffings:

There are lots of choices when it comes to natural pillow stuffings, but each has its pros and cons.

  • Down: Go for white goose down when selecting a feather pillow for highest quality. Duck down is slightly less expensive, and not quite as soft. "Pillow feathers" are even less expensive because they come from chickens and turkeys and are generally stiffer and less resilient than goose and duck down. Down can be one of the worst for harboring dust mites, however, so it's worth investing in a pillow cover with a dust mite barrier if you choose down. Down is best for back sleepers.
  • Wool: Most wool pillows are made from sheep's wool, but if you can find one with a sheep/alpaca blend, it's likely to be softer. Wool pillows have lots of benefits including being breathable, non-allergenic, and naturally resistant to mold, mildew, dust mites, and bacteria. Even people with a wool allergy can usually have wool pillows, as the wool is completely encased in a cotton cover. Wool pillows can be very expensive, however, compared to synthetics. Best for side sleepers. 
  • Organic Cotton: Cotton is not very resilient and tend to mat together and become hard and compact fairly quickly. If, however, you're looking for a pillow with very firm support, organic cotton is a good choice. Best for stomach sleepers.
  • Kapok: Made from the fibers found in the seedpod of the silk floss tree, kapok is a green, renewable filling that performs very much like down and could be a good alternative for people with down allergies. Best for back sleepers.
  • Buckwheat Hulls: Buckwheat hulls are the wasteproduct from milling buckwheat flour, and are tiny, paperlike plant material that conforms nicely to the shape of the head. Look for products that say the hulls are the product of "roasting"—a milling process that produces the cleanest, sturdiest hulls. Best for people who move around a lot at night.
  • Latex: Natural latex has many of the same benefits as wool, including being naturally resistent to mold, mildew and dust mites, and providing good air circulation to prevent you from getting too hot. But some people have a latex allergy, and some don't like the smell of the foam. There are three types of latex pillows: molded, shredded, and contour. If you currently sleep on a foam pillow, often recommended for side sleepers, latex may be a good natural alternative.
  • Hemp: Hemp fibers are generally long, straight, and coarse, making them similar to cotton for pillow filling. They don't provide much "loft" in the pillow, but if you prefer a flatter, firmer pillow, hemp may be a good choice. Best for stomach sleepers. 

Photo Credit: just.Luc via Compfightcc

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