Image by: The Benjamin Hotel New York
The Benjamin hotel in New York City offers guests an extensive pillow menu. Their sleep experts tell us how to find the perfect pillow for sweet dreams.
At New York City’s , a luxury hotel in Midtown East, everyone takes a good night’s sleep very seriously. To that end, the hotel has instituted the Rest & Renew sleep program, which offers everything from blackout drapes to earplugs to a pillow menu. All front-desk staff are trained to help guests find the perfect pillow. This innovative program is headed by sleep medicine expert Rebecca Robbins, a professor and co-author of the book .
Here are some of Rebecca’s tips for finding the perfect pillow for the best possible sleep.
1 Spend as much as your budget can afford
“A mattress and pillow are the foundation of a good night’s sleep,” Rebecca says. “When folks come to me, I say, spend as much budget as you can afford on them. We spend one-third of life sleeping; the more tailored to your sleep and the more luxurious the pillows and mattress are, the better the quality of your sleep. It’s a win-win.” And a big part of the experience is the pillow, she says.
2 Figure out how you sleep: Side, back or stomach
“A pillow menu is increasingly common in the hospitality industry,” Rebecca says. “Often they are gimmicky, but for The Benjamin, I was very excited that we can educate guests about sleeping positions so they make informed decisions.” Rebecca and The Benjamin segmented it into three sleeping-style types: namely, back, stomach and side sleepers. The underlying premise, according to Rebecca is that back sleepers need a firmer pillow, side sleepers a moderate-thickness pillow, and stomach sleepers need a thinner version.
3 What about “mixed” sleepers?
I explained to Rebecca my own habits: I start out on my side, and inevitably wake up on my back. “We typically say the position you start out in and feel coziest is the one you usually stay in. So you’re probably a side sleeper,” she says. “In that case I would recommend a pillow of moderate thickness,” she says. Personal preference will play a role too, she says.
4 What’s a common pillow purchasing mistake people make?
A common pillow-purchasing error: “Getting distracted by a nice package,” Rebecca says. Focusing on the size, colour, fabric, and even the brand of the pillow without awareness of how you are sleeping is a big no-no, she says. People get caught up in trends and latest-and-greatest promises, without a thought as to how they actually spend their time sleeping, resulting in a pillow choice that isn’t right for their sleep habits.
5 When is it time for a new pillow?
Pillows need to be replaced every one to two years, she says. A pillow protector will dramatically extend its life, possibly up to three years. As a reluctant pillow purchaser, I am shocked. “But I wash mine regularly even though I don’t replace them,” I protest. “That will keep the dust mites down, but try the pillow fold test,” she says. That entails folding a pillow in half. If the pillow bounces back to its flat state, it’s still good. If it stays folded in half, it’s time for it to go. “Try it tonight,” she says. I do. My clean three-year-old pillows all fail.
6 Test the new pillow
Make sure you test-drive a new pillow before purchase, Rebecca says. That means trying it out in the mattress or bedding store. “One thing to keep in mind is that price is significantly related to quality,” she says. Bargain pillows won’t be much of a bargain if they cause poor sleep or if you have to replace them quickly.
The Benjamin’s pillows
Perhaps you’ve stayed at a hotel with a pillow menu. The pillows have wry or sophisticated names and make big promises about improving the quality of your sleep, but they don’t always provide information on how to match the pillow to your sleep style. will give you an idea of the variety of pillows on the market today -- it’s not just the feather fill of the pillow fights of yore. High-tech (and low-tech) materials, surprising ingredients and tailored shapes will take you by surprise if you haven’t shopped for a pillow lately.
Here’s how the experts at The Benjamin break it down:
This pillow features a whopping 10 million air beads to keep your head cool and provide firm support for back sleepers.
If you love listening to music to put you in a restful state, but your sleep-mate objects, the Lullaby pillow is one of the coolest new offerings on the Benjamin’s pillow menu. You can actually hook up your MP3 or iPod to this thinner pillow for stomach sleepers.
The Anti Snore pillow helps to lift the chin up to alleviate snoring. It’s great for back sleeping snorers as it helps to keep the airway open at night.
Swedish Memory Foam
Memory foam isn’t new on the market, and those who love it swear by it as it molds to comfortably cradle the head during sleep. This pillow is for side or back sleepers.
Good old-fashioned water fills this pillow that is recommended for stomach sleepers. A vinyl cushion is filled with either cold or warm water and can be adjusted for firmness or support levels. It also can help reduce headaches or neck pain.
Sleep for Success side pillow
This pillow style is probably closer, in shape and description to the pillows you’re used to. Which can be a good thing if you’re a picky side sleeper looking for a pillow that is similar to the ones you’re used to. This one features a two-inch baffle design.
Sleep for Success back pillow
A firmer version of the previously mentioned side pillow, this one has a firm outer chamber and a soft center chamber.
Five-foot body cushion
Even pregnant women and post-surgery patients’ needs are considered at The Benjamin. This five-foot long cushion is great for aligning the spine and relieving joint pain.