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Bad Pillow Symptoms: When to Upgrade Your Pillow

September 12, 2023  ·  8 min read

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Knowing how to spot bad pillow symptoms can save you from many sleepless nights, and keep you from experiencing a future full of pain and discomfort. We talk a lot about finding the right mattress for you, but did you know that finding the right pillow is also important to your sleep health? 

Pillows are one of those sleep accessories that people either treat as an afterthought, buying whatever they can find, or cherish to the point where they can’t sleep without it (and often hold onto an old, non-supportive pillow for much longer than they should). Nonetheless, pillows are absolutely vital to your overall quality of rest. 

Here are some tips for how to spot bad pillow symptoms, plus how to know when it’s time to replace your current one with a quality one.

How do I know if I have a bad pillow?

How can you tell if your pillow is a bad pillow? Don’t they all feel the same? Nope! Just like a mattress, a pillow can exhibit bad pillow symptoms that are clear indicators that you are in need of a newer, high-quality pillow. Here are some signs that your pillow is a bad pillow:

1. The pillow feels deflated or lumpy

Some of us like our pillows to feel like fluffy clouds, but a proper pillow should still support your head throughout the night. The average human head weighs around 11 pounds and while that may not sound like much, your pillow should be able to withstand your head’s weight. If your head and neck are simply sinking into the pillow, or you feel that your pillow has no substance to it at all, it’s likely not supporting your head properly. 

Similarly, your pillow should not feel lumpy. Inconsistent support across your pillow will only result in discomfort. Your pillow should have a consistent firmness or softness to it in each area. If you lay on your pillow and notice that some parts are more comfortable or supportive than others, your pillow likely has lumps. Throw it out!

2. You’re tossing and turning 

If you’re constantly waking up in the middle of the night to toss and turn into different positions, your bad pillow is likely to blame (if it isn’t your mattress). Tossing and turning is a clear sign of discomfort and leads to poor sleep quality overall. 

Your pillow may be causing your restless sleep because it isn’t properly supporting your head and neck as you sleep. Your neck may be tilted back too far, too far forward, or there may be a gap between your neck and the pillow. This can lead to a multitude of health problems (which we’ll touch on later) and will only leave you waking up feeling restless and grumpy. 

Choosing the right pillow for your needs and particular sleep habits can help reduce tossing and turning and provide a more restful night’s sleep.

3. Your neck is out of alignment

Your pillow is a crucial tool in helping you achieve proper spine alignment in tandem with your mattress. If the pillow is too high, too low, too firm, or too soft, your spine alignment can get all out of whack and result in aches and pains the next morning. Your preferred sleeping position will play a large role in how to choose the right pillow for you, specifically due to which pressure points will be in contact with your pillow and your mattress. Essentially, you want to avoid gaps between your neck and the pillow.

For example, a stomach sleeper would benefit from a thinner pillow so as to not lift the neck too much and cause pain. A side sleeper should look for a thicker, more firm pillow to allow the neck to stay in line with the back. Back sleepers should choose a medium-soft pillow that is not too tall so the head doesn’t tilt too far backward or forward.

The comfort level of your pillow can be chosen by personal preference, but a mattress expert from Texas Mattress Makers can help you decide what would be best depending on your needs.  

4. Your pillow is not breathable

If you are a hot sleeper, sleeping on a pillow that makes you feel stuffy is just a nightmare. If you’ve ever thought, “Why do I wake up sweating?” there is a chance that your pillow is made with materials that aren’t breathable and cause you to feel too warm as you sleep. Pillows can trap your body heat (yes, heat can escape through your head) and cause the pillow itself to become uncomfortable. Imagine flipping your pillow to the cold side only for it to feel warm again a few moments later! Awful.

Investing in a pillow with cooling properties can help to alleviate this discomfort. Here at Texas Mattress Makers, we offer The Cooling Pillow that is designed to keep you supported, cool, and comfortable all night long. The material is breathable and hypoallergenic for those who struggle with allergies. The best part is that this pillow comes with a removable two-inch high-density memory foam insert so you can customize how tall your pillow stands.

Cooling Pillow

Sleep Cooler for Longer

What are the side effects of a bad pillow?

Now that we’ve established some examples of bad pillow symptoms, how does a bad pillow actually impact your body and your sleep quality? If you’re sleeping on the wrong pillow, or just a low-quality pillow, here are some things you may experience. 

  • Neck pain: If you’re waking up every morning with a stiff or sore neck, odds are your pillow is not properly supporting your head. Similar to an unsupportive mattress, an unsupportive pillow causes your neck muscles to work overtime in order to support your head, causing strain and pain. 
  • Frequent headaches: Can a bad pillow cause headaches? Yes! Strained neck muscles caused by a bad pillow can lead to uncomfortable and frequent tension headaches. Ouch.
  • Poor posture: Having a pillow that is too high, low, firm, or soft can lead to poor posture over time. The strain on your neck and shoulders can cause you to slump throughout the day. A quality pillow in the right height and firmness will promote healthy spinal alignment and posture. 
  • Allergy flare-ups: Just like a mattress, pillows can collect dust, dirt, dander, and other allergens and cause an allergy flare-up as you sleep. Be sure you’re washing your pillowcases and the pillow itself regularly and keep your bedroom clean.
  • Sleep deprivation symptoms: Sleep is essential for your body to function. Without it, your brain and body cannot perform their daily tasks and duties. If you continue to sleep on a low-quality pillow, your body won’t get the rest it needs and you can begin to exhibit sleep deprivation symptoms including irritability, daytime fatigue, stress, loss of focus, and more. 

Does pillow quality matter? Absolutely! A pillow is responsible for keeping your head, neck, and shoulders supported as you sleep. Without the proper comfort and support, you could wake up every morning feeling tired, groggy, and achy. Who wants that? Not us! We want you to get the quality sleep you deserve — and quality sleep starts at Texas Mattress Makers.

Get Better Quality Sleep with Texas Mattress Makers

Avoiding bad pillow symptoms is easy when you consult with a mattress expert about how to choose the right pillow for your needs. Where other stores will just ask you which pillow feels the most comfortable, we’ll ask you about your sleeping habits, preferred sleeping position, and more to determine the right pillow for you. 

Some say that you should replace your pillow every 1-2 years, but if you find a quality pillow that is durable and takes care of your needs, you can likely continue to rest your head on it for years to come! It’s all about finding what works for you.

If you’re ready to get the quality rest your body deserves, head over to any of our mattress stores in Katy, Downtown Houston, The Woodlands, Rosenberg, Humble, and Baybrook, TX! We can’t wait to see you!

More Helpful Articles by Texas Mattress Makers:

Mattress 101

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