Knee pillow and more: How specialty pillows improve sleep quality

Did you know that pillows affect how you sleep every night? Read our blog to find out how knee pillows and other specialty ones can improve sleep quality.

  (photo credit: AdobeStock)
(photo credit: AdobeStock)

Have you ever slept without a pillow? It can be a nightmare for many to sleep without a soft, smooth cushion supporting their neck and head as they lie on a bed. This experience can be explained by the unequal weight distribution when a person lies down or assumes their natural sleep position in bed. 

At times, the disproportionate distribution of weight can cause strain to the back, shoulders, hip, and other parts of the body. In addition, some sleep positions put too much pressure on the joints and muscles.  

Most sleepers use traditional pillows to prop up their head and neck while sleeping, but sometimes, a pillow under the head doesn't adequately provide the support and comfort one needs for quality rest. While unknown to many, using specialty pillows might be just what they're looking for to improve sleep quality.  

Specialty pillows come in various shapes and designs and are made of different materials. There is also a wide array of brand options, from international shops to family-owned businesses, such as PineTales.  

These specialty pillows can address and match your unique sleep needs, health requirements, and physical state. Some are even enhanced to give users an elevated sleep experience with a sense of comfort that promotes quality rest.  

For instance, knee pillows can be helpful to side sleepers since they serve as a cushion that separates the knees when lying down. Without a knee pillow, it can be uncomfortable for the sleeper to remain on their side for hours, as the knees and thighs might feel tired from the constant weight and pressure.  

Many other specialty pillows are available on the market, catering to various sleep needs. If you'd like to know more about how specialty pillows improve sleep quality, continue reading this article.  

Credit: Pinetales.comCredit: Pinetales.com
  • Knee pillows 

The three common sleep positions are back, side, and stomach, and your sleep position is what your body naturally assumes every night. The need for knee pillows significantly depends on one's natural or preferred sleep position, and they usually come in handy for side and back sleepers. 

Knee pillows come in sizes and forms that fit between the knees when you lie on one side. For side sleepers, knee pillows can help them maintain their natural spine alignment, thereby preventing excessive strain and pain to the bones, joints, and muscles.  

Instead of resting the upper knee on the lower knee and applying constant weight and pressure, a knee pillow minimizes side sleeping's impact on the lower extremities. Plus, the sleeper will feel more comfortable as air can circulate in the knees and legs, preventing excessive sweating or skin irritation due to friction.  

The same benefits apply to back sleepers, with the main difference being where the knee pillow is placed. You can set the cushion underneath your legs to elevate and support the knees when lying on your back. Doing so can improve air circulation in the lower body, minimize pressure on the knees, and improve your spinal alignment simultaneously. 

Aside from side and back sleepers, knee pillows benefit people suffering from vein conditions, including deep vein thrombosis or DVT, chronic venous insufficiency or CVI, and varicose veins. These conditions are rooted in the lack of blood circulation in the legs and can cause pain and discomfort for those afflicted. 

Elevating the legs using knee pillows can help alleviate symptoms of these conditions. For instance, propping up the legs for 15 minutes three to four times a day can benefit those with varicose veins. As you do so, it's vital to ensure proper back support by lying down or sitting comfortably before placing both legs in an elevated position.  

Talk to your doctor if you're considering using a knee pillow to address symptoms of the conditions mentioned above. The duration and procedure of leg elevation may differ, depending on your health condition, which is why it's essential to consult a medical practitioner regarding this pain solution.  

If you'd like to know more about knee pillows, you can check out online sources like this video:

  • Organic pillows 

Traditional pillows are made of cotton and fabric variants, including silk, velvet, and polyester. Cushions built with these materials are soft to the touch, thus providing comfort suitable for bedtime. However, one of the downsides of using fabric for pillows is that it can easily harbor dirt, bacteria, dust mites, and other impurities, which can be hazardous to health. 

Besides, constant use of cotton or foam-filled pillows causes them to lose their shape, height, and firmness. When they lose their ability to support the weight of the head and the neck, it can be uncomfortable to use them for sleeping.  

Moreover, using old pillows may not be helpful for those who experience breathing difficulties or snore at night since the lack of support on the topmost parts of the body may contribute to air obstruction. On top of that, continuous use of old, deformed pillows may cause body aches because of poor spine alignment and lack of support for the joints.  

A practical solution to these pillow woes is switching to organic pillows. Organic pillows are made from plant-derived materials, such as husks, seeds, and fibers. Some examples of materials used to produce organic pillows are hemp, buckwheat hulls, flax seeds, bamboo fibers, and even water.  

Apart from being eco-friendly choices, organic pillows offer health benefits. Natural materials, such as buckwheat hulls, offer firmness and flexibility that provide sufficient support to the head and neck. The same is true for water pillows and other organic pillow variants.  

Specialty pillows made with organic materials also underwent treatments to become dust and insect repellent, making them less likely to accumulate substances that can put your health at risk. With their durability, breathability, and resistance to harmful substances, organic pillows are premium products to add to your sleep essentials.  

  • Latex pillows 

Natural latex is a white, elastic substance derived from different rubber plants. This material can be used in its organic form or mixed with synthetic products. However, many prefer using latex in its purest form because of its natural durability and how it’s free of strong odors and harmful chemicals. 

Latex is commonly used as the base material for medical supplies, such as gloves, catheters, or tourniquets. Many sporting goods use latex as well, including balls, shoes, and playing gloves. It's a popular material used for various purposes, and it’s preferred for bedding and pillows too. 

You can enjoy some benefits, including improved sleep quality, if you opt for latex pillows. Here are other advantages of using latex pillows: 

  • They’re ideal for people with respiratory conditions, as latex has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. 
  • They maintain ideal temperatures for sleeping, which can be helpful for hot sleepers. 
  • They provide sufficient support for the head and neck.
  • They promote comfort. 
  • They prevent body aches caused by poor pillow support.

Additionally, latex pillows maintain their shape and quality longer than traditional foam pillows, which is why they're expected to last for several years. However, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America or AAFA, pillows should be changed at least every two years to avoid skin irritation and discomfort.

Credit: Pinetales.comCredit: Pinetales.com
  • Cooling pillows 

Are you a hot sleeper? Hot sleepers often experience disrupted sleep due to frequent tossing and turning when trying to sleep. Hence, they’re unable to relax. Other symptoms of hot sleep are excessive sweating that causes nighttime wakefulness and skin irritation due to high body temperatures and constant exposure to moisture.  

If you experience the symptoms above, consider using a cooling pillow. Cooling pillows are commonly made with memory foam as the inner filling, followed by a layer of cooling gel on the topmost part.  

The substance used to create the gel layer can absorb and release heat from the body. Unlike cotton or silk pillows, cooling pillows don't trap heat and sweat and allow air to circulate. Therefore, they're effective in reducing the sweat and discomfort that hot sleepers usually deal with.  

  • Aromatherapy pillows 

If you're a fan of fragrances or aromatherapy, then scented pillows might be the sleep item you need. Imagine spending hours in bed with your favorite scent lingering on your soft pillows. Depending on your chosen fragrance, you’ll feel more relaxed, comfortable, and present in your environment. 

Aromatherapy refers to the use of natural essential oils for health benefits, including the following: 

  • It promotes restfulness to combat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  • It alleviates body pain and headaches.
  • It minimizes tension and anxiety.
  • It boosts the immune system. 
  • It improves digestion.

Aromatherapy pillows are usually filled with organic materials, such as hemp or buckwheat hulls mixed with rice, herbs, spices, dried leaves, stems, flower petals, and seeds infused with fragrant essential oils.  

Some pillows need to be heated or chilled to optimize the effects of essential oils, target specific body areas for treatment, or achieve the ideal temperature for maximum comfort and relaxation. 

On the other hand, scented pillows used for sleeping commonly have materials infused with essential oils that emit fragrance. The essential oils may also transfer to the skin with constant use, which helps improve its health and appearance.  

Some of the most popular aromatherapy fragrances are lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and green tea. Many fragrances are derived from natural ingredients, and most offer health benefits that pillow users can enjoy. 

Credit: Pinetales.comCredit: Pinetales.com
  • Inflatable pillows 

Inflatable pillows are beneficial in a variety of settings and applications. For instance, they have a portable design that makes them ideal for land, air, and sea travelers or outdoor enthusiasts who love camping and hiking.  

Furthermore, inflatables may be handy for people who frequently use transient accommodations, such as hotels and resorts. Some may find it easier to acclimate to a new environment and get quality sleep when using personal sleep items, especially pillows.  

While portable, inflatables can be used at home or work for various reasons. Those who want flexibility regarding the height and firmness of their pillows may prefer inflatables because they're easy to adjust. Some also like the materials used in this pillow because they're durable and dirt-resistant. 

Others prefer them as back or neck support for sitting on office chairs. What’s more, inflatables can be used for comfort while you sit in waiting areas, schools, salons, and other places. Because of its various purposes, this pillow is considered an item worth buying.  

  • Wooden pillows 

Can you imagine sleeping on a wooden pillow? Pillows are known for their soft, smooth textures and their ability to boost comfort for resting or sleeping. However, long before people used soft materials, such as cotton and silk, to make these sleep essentials, pillows were used for different purposes. 

Ancient pillows made with hard materials, such as stone, marble, wood, and porcelain, are believed to have started in China 1,500 years ago. Initially, these pillows were intended for purposes other than sleeping, such as armrests for medical assessments or ornamental headrests for burials. In Japan, people used carved bamboo and rattan as headrests to protect their hairstyles from being disfigured as they slept.   

As time evolved, more and more people in various Asian counties used hard pillows to cool their skin as they slept during warm weather. Presently, wooden pillows are still widely used because of their possible health benefits, including spine alignment and faster recovery from injury. 

In fact, some chiropractors and physical therapists recommend wooden pillows to improve spinal and neck health. There are also wooden pillow variants with features incorporating other healing solutions, such as aromatherapy. Though not all wooden pillows are intended for sleep purposes, you're sure to get one that would best cater to your needs.  

All in all, wooden pillows can help boost your health and well-being, which will improve the quality of your sleep in the long run.  

Conclusion 

Sleep quality significantly influences your mood, energy levels, health, and overall well-being. Since the pillows you use affect how well you sleep, specialty pillows will be some of your favorite essentials that you can’t live without. You’ll come across a vast array of specialty pillows to choose from, so you’ll be able to find one that will give you the sleep experience you desire.  

This article was written in cooperation with PineTales