Pillow Talk

It’s National Bed Month and therefore the perfect time to turn your attention to your bed and bedding. Do you know how old your own pillows are? If you’re struggling to remember, it’s probably time they were replaced. The Sleep Council recommends that pillows should be replaced every two years and duvets every five but a study by Ergoflex UK showed that the average Briton uses a pillow for 3.2 years and a duvet for 7.6 years.

Your pillow is vitally important to getting a good night’s sleep. After all, it supports your head (which, for an average adult, weighs an impressive 11lb) and aligns your neck with your spine. Anyone who has ever fallen asleep upright and woken up with a crick in their neck will know how incredibly important this is. Some experts say that if you can fold your pillow in half without it flipping back into shape, it has lost its support and needs to be replaced.

Even if you only manage 6 hours sleep a night, your pillow will be doing its best to aid your sleep for over 2000 hours per year. A worn out pillow can’t do its job properly – it can lead to neck pain caused by a lack of proper support but it is also a common cause of allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.

In a horrifying study of the ‘health’ of hundreds of pillows, Dr Arthur Tucker, principal clinical scientist at Barts and The London NHS Trust found that up to a third of the weight of a pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin, dust mites and their faeces. Yep, we are shuddering too.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are very small members of the spider family. They feed on your dead skin cells while their faeces are thought to feed the fungus that also thrives in your pillow – more on that a bit later.

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments, just like your pillow. They don’t bite and they don’t spread disease but they are the most common allergen found in household dust and it’s thought that up to 25% of the population may be allergic to them.

The protein that triggers reactions to dust mites is not airborne so if you find your allergies or asthma are worse in the morning and at night, your pillow may well be to blame.

Dust mite allergy symptoms include

  1. Wheezing or asthma symptoms
  2. watery or itchy eyes
  3. itchy, runny nose
  4. sinus problems
  5. sore throat
  6. itchy skin or rash


A study from the University of Manchester found that pillows ranging in age from 1.5-20 years contained up to 16 types of fungus. One type was Aspergillus fumigatus which can cause a lung infection called Aspergillosis that can spread to other parts of the body. Researchers found up to several thousand spores per gram of pillow, which means any one pillow could contain more than 1 million spores.

Most are fairly harmless to normal, healthy people but those with compromised immune systems or respiratory and sinus problems may want to take particular note of our top tips below.


Bacteria, skin cells, dirt and oil from your face, hands, saliva and hair will transfer to your pillow and, depending on the exact type, may contribute to colds and skin irritations including acne, rashes and spots. In fact, recurrent skin outbreaks may be another indication that it’s time to change your pillow.

Go Memory Foam!

Amongst all the doom and gloom, there is some good news…

Memory foam pillows are made from inorganic fibres. As such, they don’t provide any tasty, life-sustaining food for nasty, hungry dust-mites to feed on. As a result, dust-mites can’t thrive and will avoid them. Dormeo memory foam pillows are therefore naturally hypo-allergenic. They inhibit the growth of mould, fungus and dust mites and are therefore a fantastic choice whether you are an allergy sufferer or not.

Our Tip Top Pillow Advice

Allergy sufferers should opt for memory foam pillows.

No pillow is 100% dust mite free, so all pillows should be fitted on day one with washable, anti-allergen covers. Wash the cover frequently.

If you have a machine washable pillow, kill dust mites by washing it regularly at 60 degrees. If you don’t, put it in the freezer for 24 hours.

Front or back sleepers should pick slimmer pillows than side sleepers (although stomach sleeping is generally regarded as the worst sleeping position because it distorts the natural curve of your lower spine).

Look for a pillow that fills the gap between your head and shoulders when you lie down.

Don’t rush to buy the first pillow you see. Quality memory foam pillows offer superb support and benefits – they are worth the investment.

It’s easy for us at Dormeo to recommend our products because we all use them and enjoy the benefits so if you have any questions or queries, we are on hand any time to answer them, free, on 0800 625 0134.

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