The City Mattress Blog

sleep tips

How Often Do You Need to Change Your Pillows?


Woman sleeping on pillow

We’ve mentioned before how important it is to purchase a new mattress when you no longer sleep comfortably or about once every eight to ten years, whichever comes first. But what about the rest of your bed? Your pillows need to be changed too! The rule of thumb is to replace your pillow every one to two years. However, certain types of pillows last longer than others, due to the quality and what it is made from. In fact, a latex pillow may last up four years, and both memory foam and feather pillows can last closer to three.

But, why exactly? It doesn’t seem like you’d need to purchase a new pillow so often, until you really stop to think about it.

Your Pillow Absorbs A Lot

Every night as you sleep, your body sheds skin, hair, and body oil- and your pillow absorbs it all. If you’re seriously disturbed realizing this, experts recommend washing your pillows every six months and using a protective case between the pillow and pillowcase. This will help keep your pillow as clean as possible, for as long as possible.

Pillow Dust Mites

Because of all that oil and skin, your pillow naturally attracts dust mites. Dust mites are not dangerous and they don’t bite the way bed bugs do, but they feed on your skin and are pretty gross to think about. These tiny creatures add extra weight to your pillow and also negatively affect its ability to stay supportive as you sleep. Also keep in mind that for people with allergies, dust mites can worsen their symptoms to the extent that they actually interfere with their sleep.

Flat Pillows

Do you ever wake up with a sore neck? Even without considering how unsettling it is to sleep on dust mites and your own body oils, your pillow can’t last forever. This is because just like your mattress, your pillow supports you while you sleep. Your head, neck, and shoulders are heavy! After a few years, it’s time to retire them.

So, is it time for you to buy a new pillow?

Here are eight signs you should replace your pillow

  • You wake up tired, even after a full eight hours of sleep
  • There are noticeable, permanent stains from body sweat and oil
  •  You wake up with aches and pains, especially in your neck or shoulders
  • There are lumps or dips in the foam or filler materials
  • You often get headaches or are developing tension headaches, even right when you wake up
  • You wake up sneezing and suspect it is from dust mites
  • It has been over two years since you purchased a new pillow, or whatever the appropriate lifespan is for the materials.
  • You are attempting a new sleeping position to help with your spinal alignment and need a new pillow to do so.

There’s no exact science to determine when it's time to replace your pillow.  A pillow might not seem as important to a good night’s sleep as your mattress, but it serves a very important purpose. Your pillow supports your head and neck throughout the night, ensuring that you can wake up without neck pain or stiffness. After some years, even the most high-end pillow will stop doing that. The key is to replace your pillow before it loses its ability to support you and gains a whole lot of dust mites and skin cells.