The average person keeps their pillow for over three years. By failing to replace your pillow at the appropriate time, your pillow will become a ticking time bomb. Health concerns including neck problems from lack of support, dust mite infestations and colonies of bacteria are some of the nasties that you can experience with an old pillow.1
The Three year average falls short of what the National Sleep Foundation recommends in regards to how long your pillow should last:
The answer is up for debate, but, to play it safe, get a new pillow every one to two years.2
They certainly got one thing right. The answer is up for debate. And being the argumentative person that I am, I find myself disagreeing with this blanket statement.
Why, you ask?
There are so many different pillow types, materials and fillings that it can fill a guide on it’s own. And each of the materials has different qualities, with some certainly lasting longer than others. In fact, by 2 years some of these pillows will be so pancaked that you wouldn’t want your enemy to sleep on them.
To me, a pillow needs to do three things:
- Be comfortable, even if only you find it comfortable.
- Support and align your neck with your spine while you sleep.
- Remain clean and hygienic.
Years have nothing to do with it. When a pillow fails to be any one of those three things, it is time to get a new pillow.
While it may seem like common sense, many people still struggle to determine if the time is right to change their pillow or whether it can last a little longer.
Simply Tests To Tell If It’s Time To Replace Your Pillow
Fortunately, there are some quick tests you can perform yourself to help identify if it’s time to swap your pillow out for a new one.
Fold Your Pillow In Half
The most common trick to test your pillow is to fold it in half. If the pillow doesn’t bounce back to it’s usual flat form then it’s time to buy a new pillow.
The idea behind this trick is Simple. Over time the weight of your head will cause the stuffing inside your pillow will compress and clump, becoming much less springy. By the time this happens, your pillow will be long overdue to be replaced.
Unfortunately this technique cannot be used to determine whether a foam pillow needs to be replaced, since foam by it’s very nature will spring back into shape no matter how old and worn it gets
Do You Fluff Your Pillow?
If your pillow has a feathered or wooly filling then there will come a time when it will lose it’s shape, flattening to a pancake.
A fluffing session is often all that it takes to restore your pillow back to a respectable and supportive shape. Unfortunately the effects are often short lived. If your pillow quickly returns to it’s flattened form after a single night of sleep then it’s time to swap it out for a new one.
Does your pillow feel lumpy or Bumpy?
A sure-fire sign that your pillow needs an upgrade is when the inside feels lumpy. With continued use, synthetic, and cotton fillings will break down into smaller clusters, giving your pillow a lumpy feel.
Lay your pillow on a flat surface and run your hand over it. If you feel obvious lumps from clumped stuffing or indentations in the foam, compressed by the weight of your head, then it is time to start thinking about buying a new pillow.
That disgusting smell that is lingering in your bedroom may very well be your pillow.
Remove pillow case and pillow protector from your pillow and give your pillow a good whiff. If it smells funky, and you have been cleaning your pillow as per the manufacturers instructions then it’s time to swap it out.
Keep A Track Of The Date
If all else fails, stick to the National Sleep Foundations advice of replacing your pillow once every two years.
While it may seem like along time, two years goes by real quick. A simple way to remember when to dispose of your pillow is to write the date you first purchased it on the tag with a fabric marker.
The Pillow That Needs To Be Replaced Quicker Than Any Other
If you have a polyester pillow then chances are that you will want to change it a lot sooner than you think.
According to Michael Breus, PH.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Power Of When had the following to say:
If you have a plain-old, inexpensive polyester pillow, you should be replacing it every six months.3
Yep, while that synthetic pillow might seem like a bargain, you will have to replace it more frequently than any other type of pillow. If you are considering a Polyester pillow, do the math. You may find that a premium pillow will cost less in the long run.
Michael Breus goes on to state:
if you have a memory foam pillow or any one with structural integrity, it’ll last you anywhere from 18 to 36 months
As you can see, just how long a pillow will last can depend a whole bunch of different factors including brand, material and how well you care for it. When the time does finally come to replace your pillow, you can recyle your old pillow into something new.
How often do you change your pillow? Let me know in the comments below!