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Sleep Tips
Sleep Tips

The Naked Truth: Your Toxic Relationship with Old Pillows

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No matter your preference – whether you choose to snooze with just one pillow, or you favor being surrounded by many supportive cushions – the bond we build with our pillows is incredibly close. After all, our pillows make up 20 percent of our sleep environment.

This relationship, however, has a tendency to become toxic as your pillow ages and collects nasty allergens that negatively impact your health. A mixture of sweat, dead skin, dust mites and other irritants can build up inside your pillow. This dirty buildup has been proven to be a major contributor to allergies and asthma.

A National Sleep Foundation poll shows that nearly 70 percent of people say a comfortable pillow is important to getting a good night’s rest. However, many people are keeping their pillows much longer than the recommended two-year lifespan.

Over time, your pillow breaks down and you may notice changes in its support, as well as its naked appearance when replacing your pillowcase. What was once clean and fresh, now looks lumpy, stained and is full of unwanted allergens.

So you can rest easy and allergen-free every night, we’ve compiled our top three pillow tips to help you improve your sleep health and overall wellbeing.

  1. Replace old pillows. Ever wonder why you sleep so well in a nice hotel? While it may be because your children aren’t there to wake you up, it’s also because hotels pay close attention to your entire sleep surface. From the mattress to the sheets, hotels replace make sure you are sleeping on a fresh, clean surface. They also make it a point to replace the pillows regularly. In general, pillows should be replaced every two years. provides a helpful test to know when it’s time for a replacement. To perform the test, fold your pillow in half and let go. When you let go, you pillow should regain its shape – pillows that don’t return to their original shape should be replaced. In good news, there are ample options available to fit every price range, or in some cases, even every nose.
  2. Use dust mite covers. According to WebMD, using plastic or vinyl covers with zippers made specifically for allergy sufferers can help protect against harmful irritants that lurk within your pillow. These special-made covers will help seal your pillow from allergens so you don’t inhale them while sleeping. That said, plastic covers can be noisy or uncomfortable, but there are many great alternatives available so you don't have to worry about being woken up in the middle of the night.
  3. Wash traditional pillows regularly. Washing your pillows can be a helpful solution to reducing many allergens within them. According to CNN, pillows should be washed every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent. If you have a memory foam pillow, this tip doesn’t apply to you as these materials shouldn’t be put in the washing machine. But, in good news, many memory foam pillows are antimicrobial so they don’t need to be washed.

You should always be sleeping with the best support and comfort. Your pillows shouldn't make you sick or leave you unsupported at night, so if they have outlived their expiration date and are causing you discomfort, don't be afraid of letting go! Mattress Firm has plenty of pillow options to fit your needs, so check them out in a store near you today, or shop online at


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