Iowa Sleep Blog

Healthy Sleep Habits: Picking the Right Mattress and Pillow

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Over the last few weeks, our blog has given an in-depth look at the most common tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Iowa Sleep will help you learn what steps you can take to better improve your sleep and the reasons behind each step.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia affects 30-50 percent of the general population. People with insomnia find it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and they can also feel dissatisfied with their sleep experience, which can affect their daily lives. One way to improve your sleep is to make sure you and your partner are sleeping on a comfortable mattress and using a pillow that supports you in the right places. Here are some tips for doing just that:

Explore your options. Before you head out to do some shopping, do some research online to learn about the type of mattress that will best fit your needs. There are numerous types of mattresses available today, so know that firm mattresses or pillow tops aren’t for everyone. For example, if you experience low back pain, a medium mattress is a better choice than a firm one. When lying in bed, you want to feel as comfortable as possible. When you’re at the store, lie down for 15-20 minutes and get comfortable before you make a decision. Besides just picking out the type, you also must decide the correct mattress size. Try out this guide from the Better Sleep Council to help you decide which mattress will be the best for you.


Flip, Rotate, Replace. Sleeping in the same position on the same part of the mattress for too long can actually hinder your sleep patterns. To extend the life of your mattress, consider flipping and rotating it on a regular basis. An easy way to remember to do this- when you adjust your clocks, shift your bed. In the spring spin your mattress from headboard to footboard and in the fall flip from top to bottom or vice versa. On the other hand, replacing a mattress can be a big and potentially expensive endeavor. Many mattress warrantees last for 10 years, although many companies suggest you replace every seven to eight years.

Pick the correct pillow. A comfortable pillow is important to a good night’s rest because it works to keep your head in line with your back and spin. There are two easy tests you can perform to determine whether it’s time to replace your pillows. For soft polyester pillows, fold the pillow in half and set a shoe or another light item on it. If the shoe bounces off the pillow is still good, but if the shoe rolls off it’s time to replace. For lighter feather pillows, bunch and squeeze all the air out of the pillow. The pillow should release and unfold on its own, but if not, it’s also time for a replacement.

The right pillow for you depends on the sleep positions you find comfortable. Back sleepers prefer a medium pillow to cushion their head. Firm pillows are better to support the head and neck of side sleepers, while stomach sleepers like softer pillows to take some strain off their necks. Pillows are also made of many different fibers so don’t be afraid to test out a couple kinds until you find one that works. Just because it worked for family members or your partner doesn’t mean it’s the best for you.

Sometimes the things that may seem insignificant – like your mattress and pillow – have a major impact on your sleep. And, these are just two components of creating a better sleep atmosphere so you can sleep well every night. Try out some of our tips to experience a better, more comfortable night’s sleep.