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Pillow talk - exploring options

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Nope, this column isn’t about the 1959 Doris Day-Rock Hudson movie and it’s not about intimate secrets shared between the sheets. It’s about my pillow, and I don’t mean MyPillow but MY quest to find a pillow that works for me.

These days I have little respect for what comes out of Harvard but the one thing their “experts” and I do agree upon is that your pillow can be hazardous to your health. A February 2021 Harvard Health article states that a pillow which is too soft or too hard can lead to neck pain. Not only that but… “your body has less time for muscle growth, tissue repair, and other important functions that occur during sleep.”

The article continues, “Sleep deprivation can affect mood, thinking skills, and appetite. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk for falls, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.”

That being said, I have a cabinet full of pillows that have not met my expectations - soft pillows, hard pillows, bamboo pillows, down pillows, polyester pillows, cheap pillows, expensive pillows, and while I’ve been frustrated with the results, the options available to me are certainly better than they were for my ancestors.

It’s not known when the first pillow was created but I’m not the first to understand the connection of a pillow to neck pain. According to Wikipedia, “Use of pillows evolved in animals well into prehistory, the earliest examples included reptiles and mammals resting their heads on themselves, and one an other, to support the head and neck.”

Had I been born into wealth around 7,000 BC in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, I would have slept on a stone pillow to keep bugs out of my hair, mouth, nose and ears. Ugh!

I don’t have any Oriental ancestors but if I did, they would have at least decorated their porcelain, stone, bronze, bamboo or wood pillows.

Thank God for the ancient Greeks and Romans who introduced the idea of a comfortable pillow when they added cotton, reeds or straw to their pillows!

Unfortunately, comfort fell into disfavor during the Middle Ages. It was seen as a sign of weakness, and one website stated, “At one point the only citizens allowed to rest their head at night were pregnant women and the King.” And who says women’s health care has never been important?

Pillow use has also been associated with the mummies and tombs of ancient Egypt. I certainly understand that – when you find the right pillow, you take it with you!

Fast forward to the present where pillow options are endless. There are pillows for side sleepers, back sleepers, tummy sleepers, combination sleepers, orthopedic pillows, lumbar pillows, doughnut pillows, and while I have a hard time visualizing this, pillows for CPAP wearers which have a cutout to accommodate their mask.

As I continue my quest for the perfect pillow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I share DNA with Goldilocks. Pardon the pun but rest assured that I won’t stop pillow searching until I find the one that’s not too big, not too little but is “just right!”

Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.