Reading and Sleep
If you plan on using your reading pillow to read before sleeping, you may be doing your brain and body a favor. Research has found that the time-honored tradition of polishing off a couple of chapters before bed is associated with a variety of health benefits, including:
- Reduced Stress – Reading has been shown to help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels.
- Improved Sleep – Experts recommend using reading to help your body shift into sleep mode an hour before bed to incite restful sleep.
- Reduced Screen Time – Reading can also help promote restful time by reducing the amount of time you spend looking at your phone, laptop, or TV before bed. Research has shown the blue light emitted by screens can stimulate the body by subduing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to doze off.
- Lowered Dementia Risk – Studies have linked reading with lower rates of dementia — a chronic mental disorder characterized by a decline in memory and other cognitive functions — later in life.
To harness the power of reading before bed, avoid reading on phones, tablets, or e-readers with blue lights to keep from interrupting the release of melatonin. Also, if you find it helpful to limit your bed to sleeping to stimulate rest, you may want to read in a chair or other area of your house when preparing for sleep.
What to Look for in a Reading Pillow
To help you narrow down your decision and find the best reading pillow for your lifestyle and usage plans, we’ve outlined key considerations below.
Inner Material & Support – As with standard sleeping pillows, reading pillows come filled with a variety of different materials, and each one provides a different kind of support. The most common types of reading pillow materials include:
- Memory Foam. Viscoelastic polyurethane foam — aka memory foam — is a dense, highly contouring material that softens to the pressure and heat of your body. Memory foam reading pillows are generally made from one piece of foam which cradles the body, head, and neck, offering plush support while maintaining its shape.
- Shredded Memory Foam – While standard memory foam reading pillows are made out of solid foam, shredded memory foam pillows are filled with many small pieces of foam. Shreds of memory foam move independently within the reading pillow, allowing you to sculpt its shape to provide targeted support to different areas. Compared to traditional memory foam, shredded memory foam reading pillows are softer, more moldable, and retain less heat. Some models of shredded memory foam reading pillows are adjustable, letting you remove or add filling to adjust their firmness and loft.
- Microfiber/Polyester Fiber – Sometimes called “microfiber” or “fiber fill”, polyester fiber is a synthetic material. Inexpensive and common, this type of filling is common among both standard and reading pillows. However, these types of reading pillows may not offer the same level of support as standard and shredded memory foam reading pillows and tend to have shorter lifespans.
Outer Material – Like the fill, the outer material is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a reading pillow. The exterior fabric impacts comfort, durability, and appearance of the pillow. The most popular reading fabrics include:
- Faux Suede – Also known as microfiber suede or micro-suede, faux-suede is a synthetic material designed to resemble animal suede in look and feel. The sleek, family-friendly fabric is durable and tightly woven in a way that repels stains. Micro-suede reading pillows are easy to clean, and can usually be washed with common household products.
- Velvet – Plush and shiny, velvet stands out from other upholstery fabrics, giving reading pillows a luxurious look. The durability of a velvet reading pillow may depend on the fiber type: silk velvet is quite delicate, while wool velvet and mohair velvet are both more durable and stain-resistant. Cotton velvet crushes easily, and is often blended with polyester and other fibers for added durability. Velvet reading pillows generally require professional cleaning.
- Velour – Much like velvet, velour has a lustre and soft feel. However, velour tends to be less expensive, easier to clean, and stretchier than velvet. A velour cover is preferable to velvet if you plan on using your reading pillow frequently, or if you live with small children or animals.
- Corduroy – Typically made from cotton or a cotton blend, corduroy is soft and durable. The fabric is characterized by ridges that run the length of the fabric. These ridges give corduroy a unique look and feel, but certain designs may snag on claws and unravel over time, making them less suited to pets. Corduroy covers are typically machine-washable.
Pillow Style – There are two primary styles of reading pillows on today’s market:
- Traditional – Also called “husband pillows”, traditional reading pillows usually feature a high backrest with arms. These tall, wide pillows typically support the entire upper body, including the head, neck, shoulders, spine, and arms. Luxury models may include removable and adjustable neck pillows and/or headrests, in addition to cup holders and side pockets.
- Wedge – Orthopedic pillows designed in a sloping shape, wedge pillows can be used for both sleeping and reading in addition to other up-right activities. For sleeping, wedge pillows can help ease symptoms of medical issues like sleep apnea, back pain, acid reflux, and poor circulation. Wedge pillows with higher inclines can be propped against a headboard to act as a headrest or backrest when seated upright in bed. Wedge pillows are typically made of memory foam, though polyfoam varieties are also available. If you are shopping for a wedge pillow that you plan to use while seated upright in bed, make sure you choose one with a high incline that is the appropriate size for your needs.
Color and Pattern – Many brands offer reading pillows in a variety of colors and designs, and are likely to offer one that fits your tastes. Consider choosing a neutral color that will continue to look attractive for years to come, even as your home decor and preferences change.
Added Features – As touched on earlier, some models of reading pillows — particularly luxury varieties of husband pillows — come with special features. Here are reading pillow features to consider to make your reading, working, or movie-watching experience more comfortable:
- Handle – Larger reading pillow feature a top handle, making them easier to move from place to place or reposition on your bed.
- Pockets – Some husband pillow models include side and/or back pockets for holding items like your phone, remote, headphones, or a book.
- Armrests – Traditional or husband reading pillows generally come with armrests.
- Cup-Holders – Husband pillows with armrests may also include cup-holders so you can enjoy a beverage while relaxing.
- Headrest – Some husband pillows offer a headrest or neck roll to support your head and neck while you’re sitting upright. With some models, the headrest is detachable and may be removed to prop up your legs.
- Removable Cover – Many husband and wedge pillow models offer a removable cover for easier cleaning. You can often purchase new covers to replace an older one.
- Adjustable Loft – Husband pillows filled with shredded memory foam may feature an adjustable loft, meaning you can easily add or remove foam to alter its shape and firmness. Manufacturers of such pillows may include extra filling or offer it for purchase.
In addition to design and features, consider these important factors before investing in a reading pillow:
- Cleaning – As mentioned, many reading pillows have a removable cover that may be washed in conventional machines. Other pillows may be spot clean only or require professional cleaning. In addition to determining whether the cover is washable, note whether your pillow itself may be cleaned in a conventional washer or if it needs special cleaning.
- Shipping & Delivery – Make sure you understand the shipping and delivery policies for the reading pillow you are considering buying. When shopping on Amazon, note whether the pillow qualifies for free, two-day shipping under Prime.
- Warranty & Returns – Determine whether you will able to return the reading pillow if you decide it’s not for you. If the vendor offers a trial period, note how long you have to test the pillow before you can return it for a refund. You may also want to look over the warranty of a reading pillow to assess the level of confidence a manufacturer puts behind their product. Being familiar with the terms of the warranty may come in handy in the event that you discover a defect after the return window has expired.