The Perfect Pillow

You spend about a third of your life sleeping, so it stands to reason that you want to be as comfortable as possible while you do it.  Follow the advice below for pillow care that will help you get the best rest possible.

Try the squish test.  Your pillow should spring back into shape after being folded in half. If it doesn’t, it won’t give you the support you need to rest comfortably. With a memory foam pillow, press your hand on the center. The foam should give, but not to the bottom; and when you remove your hand, it should return to its normal shape.

Find your firmness.  However you sleep, you want a pillow that supports your neck in its natural sleeping position. In general, back and side sleepers will rest easier with a medium-firm pillow, and stomach sleepers will like a soft pillow. Waking with a stiff neck is a clue you’ve got the wrong headrest.

Get the right covers.  Pillow covers (which zip closed and are different from pillowcases) add a layer of drool and grime protection that will help your pillow last. Allergen-reducing covers are a smart investment if you’re allergic to dust mites; they cost more than regular covers, so you may want to get allergy tested before diving in.

Wash and dry them.  Most pillows can be washed with detergent in cold water—read the labels. Be sure to check seams to make sure they’re secure, or wash with a zip-on cover in place. Pillows can go into the dryer on a low setting, unless they're foam, in which case you should air-dry them. For extra freshness, try an in-wash scent booster that has a lasting, calming scent. 

Pillow Talk

 

Not a care in the night world.

 

 

Statues snooze flat on their backs, head square on the pillow. If you can make it through the night this way (a clue: your bedding is almost perfect in the morning), then you’re clearly getting your restorative, deep zzz’s, and hopefully pleasant dreams. Good for you!

 

 

The big squeezy.

 

 

One look at a Hugger cuddling a pillow like a teddy bear, and you think: that’s a happy sleeper. (Are your dreams full of hugs? Only you know.) But take note: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, side sleepers like the Hugger end up with more wrinkles on the side of the face that smushes against their bedding. Switching positions isn’t easy, but switching your pillow cover is. To help skin glide more, and crinkle less, try a silky pillowcase.

 

 

Shake, rattle, and roll.

 

 

The Thrower sleeps without a pillow because it gets flung away during the night. No question, you’re a restless sleeper. To quiet your slumber, launder your linens with a detergent in a soothing scent and with a fabric softener for extra comfort that'll help you find your calm—and keep those pillows in place. 

 

 

 

 

Lights, sounds, oxygen—begone!

 

 

At some point each night the pillow ends up on top of your face. Because breathing is a good thing, if you’re a Face Blocker, you should consider alternatives that free your face. Look for clues as to what you may be blocking out. An annoying LED light on your TV, perhaps? Excessive noise? Make your bedroom a dark and quiet haven for sleep. An easy step to take: Stock your laundry room with a fabric softener that will make your jammies and bedding dreamy-soft and soothingly scented. 

 

 

It’s crunch time!

 

 

Wrestlers sleep with a spare pillow clenched between their legs. It’s not a leap to guess that you’re hanging on to some stress from the day (pity the fool who tries to take that pillow away from you!). A little gentle yoga before sack time might help reset your mojo, for a more restful overnight. To make the experience more pleasant, tuck a scented dryer sheet in your pajama drawer for a lovely smelling experience each time you open it. 

 

 

 

Boost Your Energy—No Caffeine Needed!

Put a spring in your step the natural way with our six healthy (and super easy-to-implement) lifestyle changes.

Make breakfast count. Don’t even think about skipping your morning meal, say nutritional experts. But do forgo the sugary cereals and toasted white bread. Instead, make sure your first choice of the day is a healthy one by including protein-rich foods, such as scrambled eggs or Greek yogurt, and whole-grain cereals or breads. Throw in some fresh fruit and a handful of nuts and you’re on your way to a more energized day.

Get moving now. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults get 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Even moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or bike ride, can get your blood flowing and your motivation up. If a half hour seems like an impossibility given your busy schedule, break it up into three 10-minute sessions per day. Taking the stairs, heading out for a quick walk on your lunch break, even lifting hand weights while you watch TV, all count—and the benefits and results are the same as a full-on workout.

Eat right. Be mindful not to skip meals, which can lead to overeating later, and keep portions small, particularly at lunchtime, when consuming too many calories can zap late-afternoon alertness. The occasional splurge is fine and even recommended (hello wine and sugary treats), but it’s best to stick to a balanced diet of lean proteins and unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa, as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, to keep energy levels high.

Don’t skimp on sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours of shut-eye to feel their best. If you’re not getting the rest you need, try rolling back your tuck-in time by 10 minutes every few nights until you reach your goal. And bear in mind that it’s not just the quantity but the quality of sleep that counts: Turn off all electronic devices, make sure your room is cool and dark, and set the stage for a great night’s sleep by getting your sheets and pajamas silky soft with a liquid fabric softener.

Drink up! Guess what’s the fastest, simplest way to feel energized? Water. Experts recommend that adults throw back at least eight 8-ounce glasses of H2O daily. Find yourself forgetting? Place a sticky note on the fridge or your computer screen. And remember: Although coffee, energy drinks, and carbonated sodas may give you a quick energy boost, after a couple of hours you may end up feeling more tired than before. 

Easy does it. Don’t discount stress: Worrying can sap your energy fast. Experts recommend meditation, walking, yoga, and confiding in friends when your problems seem overwhelming. If you’re feeling overworked, prioritizing can help. Make a list of what needs to be done, and then tackle the most pressing chores or assignments first. And delegate, delegate, delegate whenever possible. Volunteering can help take your mind off your worries too, as can having a good laugh—so skip the dramas and go straight for the comedies.

How to Catch Some Zzzzs on Your Next Flight

When you travel by plane, whether it’s for spring break, business, or summer vacation, you want to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and well rested. If you usually struggle to catch a nap when you fly, you’re in good company—but it is possible to sleep comfortably on a plane if you take the right precautions. Here are top strategies from seasoned travelers, all of whom have learned to maximize the potential for a good snooze en route to their destination.

Get some exercise before you take flight. If you work out a few hours before boarding a plane, you’ll be comfortably tired; plus, your post-workout body temperature will drop while you’re airborne, which will also help set the stage for sounder sleep.

Choose the right seat. If you’re flying coach, pick a window seat in an exit row. This way you won’t be bothered when your seatmates get up, and you can rest your head against the window. Avoid the galley area, which tends to be the busiest spot on the plane, or seats near the bathrooms, as passengers invariably congregate nearby.

Dress for comfort. Wear loose-fitting clothes that have been treated by a laundry detergent with a soothing scent, and snuggle up in your seat. Since the cabin temperature can fluctuate widely, dress in layers so you can add on or peel off as necessary. Also, bring comfy socks to slip on if your feet tend to get cold.

Bring your own blankie. Bring a soft, cozy throw (and a small travel pillow) that’s been washed in a soothing liquid laundry detergent with a calming scent. Consider taking an eye mask to block out light, and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to drown out sounds. Before nodding off, fasten your seat belt over your blanket so the flight attendants won’t have to rouse you before landing to check if you’re buckled in.

Pack a snack. Bring a bottle of water and munchies that are known to help induce sleep, such as bananas (they contain muscle-relaxing potassium and magnesium), magnesium-rich almonds, or a turkey sandwich, which contains calming tryptophan. Enjoy your food early in the journey so you won’t be at the mercy of the flight attendants’ scheduled service. Sweet dreams!

Time to Turn In

The hours before your head hits the pillow can determine whether you’ll be up tossing and turning or falling right to sleep. If you find your mind racing and unable to shut down, try these simple tricks so you can drift into sweet slumber, easily.

Power down. The last thing you need at the end of the day is more stimulation. Make it a rule: no distractions, no electronics. That means no computer, TV, cell phone—zilch! Artificial light can trick your body’s internal clock into thinking it’s not time for bed. Keep it simple. Reading a book or magazine can help you let go of a hectic day as you get ready to go to sleep.  

Beware of sleep disrupters. Alcohol, which may initially make you drowsy, can negatively affect your sleep. Heavy meals may cause indigestion, so it’s best to finish dinner two or three hours before bedtime. Exercise is encouraged; however, strenuous activity is not recommended for two hours before you go to sleep.

Establish an evening ritual. A warm bath at night can relieve tension and help you to feel relaxed and sleepy. Try to regulate your body’s clock, too, by going to sleep and waking up the same time each day. Slip into soft PJs washed with a fabric softener in a calming scent for extra cozy comfort.

Set the mood. Keep your bedroom tranquil and serene, with no bright lights. Soft lamplight or the gentle glow of a scented candle works better as you’re getting ready for bed. If your mind is endlessly wandering, write thoughts down in a journal (no electronics!).

Breathe deeply and meditate. Practiced for thousands of years, mediation may help you to relax and let go of the daily stress that takes up too much space in your head. A tip from the experts: Stay mindful of the flow of your breath. Positive affirmations may also help. Silently repeat a reassuring word or phrase.

Comfort is key. The most important part of your evening oasis: the bed. Launder linens with a liquid fabric softener in a amazing scent. The silky soft sheets will feel fabulous as you drift off to sleep.