1% Thursday: Get A New One. It’s IMPORTANT.

This week, just do it.  Buy a new pillow.

I know, I know – it wasn’t at the top of your to-do list.  Let me see if I can help.

How many hours a day do you use that pillow?  Need I say more?

All right then, how long is your head in contact with that thing in a week?  What else do you use for that much time?  Shoes maybe?  Fine.  Get a new pair of those while you’re at it.

This is your head, right?  Notice this is a site about headaches?

All right, let’s get serious.  If your pillow is 6 years old, about 10% of its weight is probably made up of dead skin, dead mites, live mites, and … mite dung (according to Dr. John Maunder of the British Medical Entomology Centre).  If it’s only two years old, it will be less… but still – isn’t 5% of its weight still a disgusting thought?

Oh, but you have a nice clean pillowcase.  As Bill Bryson says in A Short History of Nearly Everything,"To something on the scale of bed mites, the weave of the tightest human fabric looks like a ship’s rigging."  Lovely.

That clean pillowcase smells great, but what else is going into your nose?

Dr. Alexander Mauskop, in his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines, explains that allergens such as mites and dead skin can trigger migraine attacks, even if you don’t have allergies:

…As a part of the inflammation process, the blood vessels (including those in your head and face) become more porous, allowing the blood’s fluid and cells to seep into nearby tissues.  The irritated blood vessels widen as tissues become even more inflamed.  Does this sound familiar?  It should, because it’s a major part of the migraine process.  Although true allergy headaches are relatively rare, many environmental factors do have the potential to assault the nervous system and trigger a full-on migraine attack.  That’s why it may be worth your while to reduce or eliminate as many of these factors as possible.

Now you’re going to put it off while you decide what pillow to get?  Buy a cheap one while you’re deciding – trust me.  Personally, I like love the buckwheat hull pillow (or go queen-size organic if you can afford it); others like those memory foam pillows.  Lots of people like the very fancy water based pillows.  But just get something, and start there.

What is 1% Thursday?

1% Thursday

Every Thursday at Headache and Migraine News (weather permitting) we’ll talk about one measurable, practical thing we can do to make our lives just 1% better.  Usually it will be something very easy, sometimes it will be a challenge.  Let us know if you try it, or share an idea of your own – and maybe a year from now we’ll see that things have really changed for the better!

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4 comments… add one
  • Kathy Mar 17, 2011

    I schedule pillow replacement annually on birthdays. It’s a date that’s easy to remember and spreads it out between members of a family. Even if you buy $5 pillows from the discount store for those who sleep with more than one pillow, it’s pretty easy to do, and old pillows can be repurposed after washing in hot water and bleach.

  • Aurora Mar 19, 2011

    I am really going to buy new pillows. The ones I have here are looking tired and yet I bought them not over a year ago. But my favourite pillow will stay. I’ll air it out in the sun and give it a good bashing; and yeah, give it a good wash, too, with water and bleach.

  • Lizzie Mar 20, 2011

    On a general health and wellbeing course on Thursday, I was advised to flip my mattress every month, and buy new pillows every three months.

    Yesterday I flipped my mattress. Tomorrow I will buy new pillows.

    Thank you for this helpful push!


    p.s. I love your tone of voice in this article!

  • James Mar 21, 2011

    So I went pillow shopping last week. Our family has done away with the mite dung (at least for a while)! Also got a special pillow to test-drive… hopefully I’ll have the chance to do a little review soon.

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