Thursday, July 7, 2011

The pillow

At first glance, pillows seem to be merely bits of fluff that complement the bedroom set. Their main function is to "finish off" the decor. Certainly the pillow pales in importance next to the mattress and bedding.

I'm not sure why that stigma has established itself into my mind of the hierarchy of sleeping accessories, because I know very well that, being the picky sleeper that I am, I need a good pillow if I want to have a relaxing, peaceful night of sleep.

This concept brutally reinforced itself into my brain several times over the past couple of weeks. I was first reminded of this when I spent a weekend at home a few weeks ago. The pillow currently occupying my room was paper thin and rock hard, and seemed to take up negative space, causing my head to sink into a black hole, my neck hanging off the edge of the chasm, as I tried to get comfortable.

I didn't want to repeat this experience for the 4th of July weekend, so I came prepared with my own perfectly shaped pillow. I slept much better all three nights I was home (though the double mattress pad may have had something to do with that).

However, my brilliant plan sort of backfired because, despite my meticulous efforts not to leave anything behind, I forgot to grab my pillow before I headed out the door, loaded down with more stuff than I probably needed for one long weekend. I realized I had abandoned my pillow during my 60-mile-long firework show commute, but neglected to turn around because I had other pillows sitting on my bed at home.

It took me about 2 seconds after I laid down that night to realize that sleeping on my cuddle pillow wasn't going to work. The pillow was soft and smushy and perfect for cuddling with, but proved to be far too fat for my head to endure 6-7 hours on. So I spent most of the night tossing and turning and alternating between fatso pillow and no pillow at all. When I finally got out of bed the next morning I had a headache in 3 different parts of my head. I think that's the closest I've ever come to experiencing a morning hangover.

Waiting to be reunited with my beloved pillow was no longer an option, so that day I bought a new pillow at Walmart. I bought the smallest one I could find and took it home. To my dismay, the new pillow was at least twice the size of fatso pillow.

So that night I set humungo fatso pillow aside and slept on my body pillow instead, which is a tad thinner than fatso pillow. This worked better than sleeping on fatso pillow, but I didn't experience the warm-and-fuzzy sleep that I've grown accustomed to--I felt like I was an unwelcome guest sleeping on a stranger's bed. Not the most pleasant kind of sleep I tell you, and it resulted in strange dreams.

Now that I think of it, transitioning from pillow to pillow has always been a traumatic experience. When I was a kid--back when I slept with all 20+ of my stuffed animals, each with its own designated spot--I slept on my giant Free Willy. I might as well have slept sitting up; if I tried to do that now I would break my neck.

We used to have this rainbow pillow that me, Tiffany, and Kimberly always fought over. It was an ugly, thin little thing, but because it was multi-colored, we all wanted it. I for one was not above sneaking into someone's room, stealing the pillow, and placing it back on my bed where it belonged. I don't know what happened to that pillow, but I suspect Mom had something to do with its disappearance.

My next favorite pillow was ancient, but I loved it--the cotton inside the pillow no longer stuck together, which resulted in thousands of pieces of material that lumped wherever you prodded it. I usually shoved most of the stuffing to either side of the pillow and rested my head in between, giving me the illusion that I was sleeping on a big fluffy pillow without causing any physical damages. I was very sad when Mom threw that one away, but even I had started to get a little exasperated by its constant expelling of entrails.

Anyway, back in the present world of yesterday, I took matters into my own hands. When I got home from work, the first thing I did was cut open fatso pillow and pull out a layer or two of the stuffing.

And last night I got the first good night's sleep I've had all week, although my neck was still a bit kinked when I woke up this morning. But I think I'll survive until I get my old lopsided-but-shaped-to-my-head-perfectly pillow back.

So you see, pillows are not superfluous details; a good pillow that coincides with the delicate preferences of the individual sleeper can make or break a person's night of sleep.


  1. Oh, Angie, you're so awesome!

  2. Clearly you should speak to the pillow manufacturers. The experience should be perfectly duplicatable across the pillow spectrum. That said, I relate to your trauma. I have to have my pillow or I never sleep.