The Benefits of a Bamboo Pillow and Its Cons
For some people, getting a good night’s rest can be a challenge. Expensive sleep product investments often don’t solve the many problems surrounding personal comfort, and people can spend plenty in their search for an uninterrupted night. Mattresses may be the first step in accommodating your proper sleep posture, but if you aren’t choosing the correct pillow, then you still may not be keeping your body properly supported.
Bamboo pillows, called as such due to the bamboo fibers used to help create the material weave found in the casing, are generally filled with a shredded memory foam. The benefits of a bamboo pillow allow for personalized adjustment to match both your body needs and personal preferences for a better night’s sleep.
Table of Contents
- Bamboo Antimicrobial Benefits
- Bamboo Hypoallergenic Benefits
- Bamboo Moisture Absorbency
- Bamboo Cooling Benefits
The most important thing to consider surrounding your sleep health is your spinal alignment not only at night but during the day. Your spine is the bridge of your nervous system: the path by which all body function is routed. Your sleep position determines the support your spine needs to stay in a natural, neutral position through the night to accommodate healthy body function. Bamboo pillows are created to help support varying positions for a good night’s rest and overall health benefits.
When laying on your back, your spine is more naturally inclined to fall into a neutral position if correctly supported. In fact, this is considered the most healthy sleep position your body can rest in. Your head should be kept level with your shoulders, meaning you need a supportive yet thinner pillow. Plus, you also need the gap between your head and shoulders well supported to allow your soft neck tissues to rest.
No matter how comfortable you’re feeling while sleeping on your stomach, you will always have a misaligned spine due to how you turn your head to accommodate the rest of your body. Because of this, keeping your head and neck as flat as possible is the suggested position for stomach sleepers. A thin soft pillow is required for this position, and placing another thin pillow under your hips will help keep strain off your lower back.
Although generally a healthy position to sleep in, your spine can be easily compromised if you do not allow for a surface that supports the natural body shape. You also need a thicker pillow to hold your head level with your neck in order to provide proper support to your neck. It’s important to use a pillow that contours well to your head and has enough filling to accommodate your entire head and neck area.
What makes a bamboo pillow so popular is a combination of a thick plush casing with variances in its fill that creates a luxurious sleeping surface for your head. Bamboo fiber is derived from the pulp of bamboo which is then processed and made into a viscous-like substance that can be woven into the material. Typically bamboo fibers are combined with other natural or synthetic threads to create a uniquely soft pillow casing. Bamboo is naturally sustainable and is fast growing to ensure readily available crops for production. Of course, the bamboo must be processed prior to its use as a material, but the entire process is more economical than many other synthetic material creations.
Bamboo has the unique claim of being naturally antimicrobial. This is a positive attribute to include in materials that lay next to your head, which is in close proximity to your mucous membranes that is most likely to be affected by disease-causing bacterias- such as your mouth, nose, and eyes. Antimicrobial properties of the material help keep bacteria from adhering to its surface and creating an inhospitable environment for it to grow or thrive. Recent studies show that all parts of the bamboo are slightly resistant to bacteria, and it is due to those fibers high in lignin, which is most resistant even when it’s diluted. Lignin is the polymer that helps make plants rigid and woody. When pulped, this is broken down and is then included in the fiber making process.
Most products that uses naturally occurring fibers such as bamboo have hypoallergenic properties as they come from a more pure source and are not exposed to as many chemicals in their creation that can cause allergic sensitivities. Although this label does not guarantee that no skin or breathing allergies will be triggered, they are usually considered more gentle on your system than other comparable materials.
Because Bamboo must be pulped and are exposed to chemicals to break down their woody fibers to create a more pliable material for use in fabrics, they are not as naturally processed as cotton or silks. But despite this, many claims surround their use in homes where people suffer from allergies with a wide range of success. Plus, it seems to help keep dust mites from accumulating – which is another source of allergy flare-ups.
Like many other natural fibers, bamboo is highly absorbent which is beneficial to a cooler night’s sleep. Bamboo is especially absorbent compared to other natural fiber bases, and it is highly sought after for use in reusable diapers and towels due to their absorbent qualities, softness against sensitive skin, and durability through wash after wash. What better material to use up against your own skin night after night?
Natural fibers almost always breathe easier than synthetics, and despite having a softer, thicker feel to it- bamboo-based materials have excellent airflow. Combined with micro-venting and great absorbency that helps wick moisture away from your skin surface, these pillowcases are enjoyed by sleepers who suffer from warmer nighttime body temperatures.
Because bamboo pillows are a more specialized pillow, they often come in varying sizes based on manufacturer’s specifications for comfort rather than industry standards. Industry measurements accept a standard of pillow sizes of 20 x 26 inches, x 30 inches, and x 36 inches for standard, queen, and king sizes respectfully. Most bamboo pillows follow these general guidelines to ensure you can fit them within store-bought pillowcases. The loft of pillows, or the height of a pillow when placed upon a flat surface, is dependent upon the type of fill used within. Since most bamboo pillows are fairly malleable, their loft can often be quite high due to the air pockets within, but compress easily under weight to provide a more accurate measurement.
Bamboo pillows are almost always synonymous with a shredded memory foam or shredded memory foam blend filling. Some of our favorite bamboo pillows have also used a solid memory foam cushion. Since memory foam traditionally is a slightly warmer sleeping surface, this combination helps create a cooler surface to sleep upon. But more importantly, the strength it lends to holding an extremely malleable and easy-to-shape type of filling creates a personalized sleep comfort.
This shapeable filling makes this a very versatile pillow that can be used for all sleep positions as well as a support for your back, hips, knees, and other body parts depending on how you choose to use it. It also is a favorite of those who like to tuck their arm up under their pillow since the shredded foam easily conforms to their body shape without cutting off circulation.
What makes bamboo pillows so popular are their awesome malleability. Although there are a few that use a more solid sleeping surface, the majority are created with shredded memory foam which provides the awesome contouring and pressure point reduction of a regular memory foam but also allows for increased airflow as well as a softer overall feel. When combined with polyfill or a similar soft fiber blend, it can actually begin to mimic the feel of a feather and down pillow. Pillows are generally adjustable in one of two ways: either the filling is encased in a separate zippered case in order to allow the removal and addition of material or doesn’t allow you to do so, and you simply have to adjust it depending on how you use the pillow to provide a softer or firmer effect.
The removable filling is a popular way to help customize your sleep experience. Most of these pillows come with a large amount of filling within to create a thicker, firmer pillow feel. This can be adjusted through the removal or addition of filling to create thicker, softer comfort or even a plush-to-firm thin pillow depending on your needs. Often getting this just right can take a bit of time as the material needs time to settle and distribute evenly, but taking the time to find your level of comfort is well worth it.
Some pillows, especially those that follow the original bamboo pillow designs, do not have removable fillings, but instead, it depends on the use of the flexible characteristic of the pillow itself to meet the needs of a wide variety of sleep positions. These pillows can range in comfort levels from extra firm to soft. Folding the pillow firms it up, while turning it on its side makes it softer and thinner.
Although the list of bamboo pillow pros is long and varied, there are a few cons that could be a deal breaker for many people. It’s also important to note here that no pillow is a true one-size-fits-all despite a variety of claims that may be made to that effect. Obviously, a bamboo pillow is better equipped to fit a larger variety of needs than many other pillows due to its unique construction, but it doesn’t always mean it will work for you. Personal preferences combined with body type, weight, and height are all things that may not make a bamboo pillow your best choice.
Because bamboo materials are usually combined with memory foam, a man-made material, it may have an off-gassing smell created from it because of being encased in packaging and not being able to breathe. These are normal, slight chemical smells that usually dissipate rather quickly upon opening. They are caused by a buildup of synthetic gases, which are no different than what most of your everyday household items release. These are called VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and can be found in obviously odorous objects such as household cleaners or in very low amounts in everything from your couch cushioning to your makeup.
Because memory foam is easily compressed, it may be packaged and stored tightly rolled or vacuum sealed. Depending on how long these pillows have been stored like this, it can result in the pillow not having quite all the characteristics you were looking forward to due to long period compression that may compromise the ‘spring’ of the foam. Over time, memory foam will normally begin to bounce back less and less as it is compressed over and over. Poor storage prior to purchase can begin to wear memory foam qualities down and shorten its life. Plumping your pillow and allowing it to rest through the day is the best way to ensure a longer life.
Non-adjustable pillows are less likely to work with a wider variety of people than those that can have filling removed or added, but even those have their drawbacks. Often, it can take a bit of time to get just the right level of comfort that works with your personal preferences and body position needs.
Removing and adding filling as convenient as it may seem can also be a bit of a messy chore. Plus, you need to provide a place to keep anything you remove. If you throw it out, you’ll probably want more for future adjustments! Shredded memory foam, especially when blended with a fiber filling of some sort, is small and static-laced, which means it wants to stick to everything. Taking a handful heap at a time rather than trying to move a lot is the best way to approach its removal or addition to the open space provided on the secondary case. Storing it in a large ziplock bag also seems the best way to keep it well contained, although it will want to static cling to it no matter what you do.
Memory foam is a dense hefty fill. Even when shredded, it is rather heavy in nature and is not the filling you want to be hit with during a pillow fight. Although definitely shapeable and full of awesome air pockets that help conform to and redistribute the filling for your comfort, it is a heavier pillow overall.
Traditionally memory foam is not an easily washable material and can begin to break down with the application of moisture over time. Although bamboo spot cleans well, and the cases are almost always machine washable and dryable, the pillow fill may not be. This is a variable depending on the company and their claims, but the overall suggestion is to avoid it unless absolutely necessary- and to always make sure to dry it thoroughly.
On the flip side, they can be thrown in the dryer for a quick refreshing and plumping anytime you need to do so. Just always be sure to read the care instructions before tossing it in the washing machine to avoid voiding any warranty it may carry.
Obviously, bamboo pillow pros far outweigh the cons, although paying close attention to claims and details prior to purchase is always recommended. As mentioned, no pillow is a true one-size-fits-all, but the amazing plush comfort bamboo material brings to the casing and the adjustability of many of the styles create a very comforting sleep aid. Moreover, it is popular in households where sleepers suffer from allergies, and for those looking for unique comfort and support, bamboo pillows are definitely worth trying out.