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posted: 3/7/2013 1:00 AM

Choosing the right pillow for the best sleep

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By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

Pillows are an important part of bedding, and there are a lot of choices available -- from fluffy down-filled pillows to memory-foam pillows. They are designed to keep your spine properly aligned while you sleep and they are also designed to support your head and neck. With all the many choices available, which one is best for you? Let's explore.

Are you a side sleeper? There is a special pillow just for you. When sleeping on your side, it is normal to feel as if your shoulder is sort of in the way. A side-sleeper pillow will help that because it is designed to help you get a more comfortable and healthier night's sleep with support for the head and room for the shoulder. A side-sleeper pillow is firm but not stiff. It keeps the head level. It cradles your neck and head properly to make sure that your body is properly aligned.

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Are you a back sleeper? Your pillow should support the natural curvature of the spine in the neck area and provide good support under the head, neck and shoulders. It should not be too big because if too big, it can lift and tilt the head forward too much. It should not be too small or too mushy, because if too small, it can extend the neck, letting the head fall back. Just like Goldilock's porridge, it should be just the right size.

Are you a stomach sleeper? Some experts say a memory-foam pillow is your best bet. Many stomach sleepers have agreed that after trying several different pillow types, the memory-foam pillow works best for them.

Uh, excuse this personal question ... But do you snore? If yes, well, there's a pillow for you, too. Snoring occurs when the air passages are blocked during sleep. The best pillow would be one that keeps your air tracks correctly open and clear, thus reducing snoring. The pillow should elevate the head and neck in a way that makes breathing easier and more consistent.

Are you pregnant? There's a pillow just for you, too. For pregnant women, a body pillow may be best as it supports and cradles the stomach and relieves pressure from the spine. (If you have any questions, you may want to check with your doctor.)

So as you can see, there is a pillow designed just for you no matter how you sleep. This article simply points you in the right direction, but to get specific help and guidance you can go to specialty linen stores to seek the aid of an expert. You can also go online to search the various possibilities and their pros and cons.

Happy hunting.

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