Do you struggle to get to sleep at night or wake up each morning barely rested? There are many potential causes of poor sleep, but among the easiest to fix are the bed we sleep in and the pillows and blankets that keep us warm and comfortable.
The average adult spends about 33 years in bed throughout their life; more than we spend driving or working. Yet few of us give a fraction of the thought to pillows and blankets as to cars and clothes. But with a little planning and minimal expense, it’s possible to create a warm, comfortable, supportive sleep environment.
In this article, we take a look at some of the pillow and blanket options that you need to know about.
Weighted blankets are just like ordinary blankets, but they include dense material or beads of glass or plastic to increase their weight. Many people find that weighted blankets help them to sleep, and there’s scientific evidence to back them up.
Studies have shown that blankets that exert more pressure have a calming effect, reducing anxiety and stress arousal via the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Weighted blankets were originally used by medical professionals for deep pressure stimulation, particularly with autistic children, but they have become increasingly popular with consumers in recent years.
Weighted blankets are available in weights from five pounds to around 30 pounds, and it’s worth experimenting to find the weight that works best for you.
Natural Fiber Blankets
Temperature regulation is one of the most important aspects of a sleep-friendly environment, and your blanket plays a critical role. Blankets create a microclimate by separating us from the larger space of our bedroom, but there needs to be some exchange of air with the outside world. Otherwise, our natural body heat is trapped and we overheat.
Breathable fabrics allow air in and out while maintaining an effective barrier. As a general rule, breathable fabrics are made from natural fibers, including cotton, percale, and wool. Natural fibers are also better at wicking moisture—a must if you tend to sweat at night.
Body pillows are long, narrow pillows that support your head or limbs while you sleep. You may find a body pillow useful if you often struggle to arrange pillows around your body, and especially between your legs or to support your back. Habitual pillow huggers find body pillows especially relaxing because they’re long enough to support both your legs and arms.
A bolster is similar to a body pillow, but bolsters are typically round whereas body pillows often have a flatter cross-section.
Pregnancy pillows are large, usually “u”-shaped, body pillows designed to support parts of your body that normal pillows don’t. As the name suggests, pregnancy pillows were originally designed to help pregnant women rest comfortably. Baby bumps often make it challenging to find a position that feels safe and supported.
But you don’t have to be pregnant to experience a pregnancy pillow’s benefits. They’re great for anyone who feels they need extra back, leg, and arm support, and they are much more convenient than trying to arrange several standard pillows into a comfortable and supportive configuration.
Wedge pillows are sloped pillows that are thicker at one end than the other. They are used to raise the head and shoulders to help sleepers lie at an elevated angle, a position that alleviates pressure on the spine and is recommended by medical professionals for people who suffer from sleep apnea, circulatory issues, and acid reflux (GERDS).
If wedge pillows are not flexible or comfortable enough, you may want to consider a home hospital bed with an adjustable head. Hospital beds like the Supernal 5 have motorized head adjustments that safely support the upper body in any position from a slight incline to sitting up.
In addition to larger wedge pillows to support the upper body, you can also buy wedge pillows of various sizes designed to support the back and limbs. These are often referred to as positioning wedges.
Curved and Contoured Pillows
A traditional pillow’s flat rectangular shape works well for many, but may not be ideal for people with neck and back conditions. People who suffer from back pain benefit from additional support to maintain a position that reduces pain and promotes sleep. Curved pillows are designed to better align and support the spine and its natural shape. They’re ideal for people who sleep on their back, but modern curved pillows can accommodate side-sleepers too.
While many curved pillows feature a simple concave design, more complex shapes are available in pillows designed for specific conditions. For example, contoured CPAP pillows help to hold the head in the right position while accommodating the mask and tube of a CPAP machine.
In this article, we’ve focused on pillows and blankets, but beds and mattresses are even more important. If you’d like to learn more about how a premium home hospital bed helps you sleep better, wake up more refreshed, and cope more easily with illness and disability, contact a home hospital bed expert today.