Time for a New Pillow?

January “white sales” are a marketing strategy employed by retailers since the late 1800s. In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia, the pioneer of the department store, decreed that January would be the time for a white sale—selling bed linens at a discount. (At the time, bed linens were available only in white, hence the term.)

With many retailers maintaining this 100+ year January tradition, now is the perfect time to take a look at your bed pillows, sheets, mattress protectors and blankets. If anything needs replacing, now might be the perfect time to buy something new.

© karam miri – fotolia.com

Your pillow can either make or break your night’s sleep, as anyone with a sore neck can tell you. How can you tell if you need a new pillow? If it’s a down and/or feather pillow, fold it in half; if it bounces back relatively quickly, it’s in good shape. If not, the down could be broken down to a point where it is no longer functioning to support your head. (Moisture and natural body oils cause down to break down over time.)

Whatever type of pillow you have, if you notice any back or neck pain, or your pillows just aren’t comfortable anymore, it’s time to buy new ones. Also note if your allergies seem to be flaring up. Over time, dust mites feed off of dead skin cells we shed and they can cause allergic reactions. (Which is why I spray my bed and pillows with Lysol every time I change the bed, and wash the pillow protectors often.)

When shopping for a pillow, keep in mind how you sleep—on your back, your stomach or on your side—as this can impact the firmness of the pillow you need. Also keep in mind any allergies to down or feathers as several alternatives are available from synthetics to memory foam and natural buckwheat. And then there’s the budget; generally speaking, you get what you pay for in a pillow. A high quality (and high cost, $150 and up) pillow will last years longer than a $15 variety. Hence, the white sale is a great time to buy!

No matter what type of pillow you buy and how much you spend, pick up some pillow protectors if you don’t already have them. (I like the kind with a hidden zipper.) They do extend the life of the pillow by adding another layer of protection from moisture, perspiration and skin oils.

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Student Bedroom Essentials

Each year, thousands of teenagers transition from middle school to high school. New friends, new teachers, new study habits (hopefully!), new classes, new worries … it can be overwhelming. Having a place to call their own, while supporting their academic and social growth, is a vital part of the teen experience. Here are some ideas for creating a comfortable space for your high schooler.

1. Color cues. Color plays an important role in how humans act and feel in a room. Bedrooms generally call for restful colors like blues and greens, but study areas can be a bit brighter with more energizing colors like red and yellow. Consider desk accessories in these colors or paint a feature wall near the desk in a brighter hue.

2. Zoned out. Teen bedrooms serve a variety of functions: sleeping, studying, and even socializing. Designate areas for each using furniture, layout, color and area rugs. Look for modular, multi-purpose pieces like storage ottomans for extra seating and storage.

3. Functionality. The most essential pieces of furniture for a student bedroom are a desk and chair, especially if long periods of time will be spent hard at work. National retailers offer desks of all shapes, sizes and colors, so you need not blow the budget or use all the available space in the room. The desk should be large enough to accommodate a writing area for homework, a desk lamp, and frequently used items such as pens and paperclips. Select a chair comfortable enough for the average length of working time, and make sure that it will fit easily around the desk and any other items of furniture. A cork board, ribbon board, or magnetic board hung near the desk helps to keep schedules, photos and even homework assignments in view.

4. Does it compute? Whether to allow a teen to have his or her own computer in the bedroom or to designate a more public area of the home for computer work is a subject of great debate among parents. Every teen is different, and it’s a decision that every parent must make. The point is, there is no “right” answer except what works best for your family and your student’s development. If your child will have a computer in the bedroom, make sure the desk is large enough for the computer and open space for writing.

5. Storage, storage, storage. Teens tend to have a lot of stuff. Clever storage solutions can make a room appear larger, so look for ways to maximize the space you have. Dividers or cubbies for desk drawers keep office supplies and accessories in check. Vertical shelving units provide space for books, memorabilia and bins for stowing smaller items, while a bed with drawers beneath could eliminate the need for a dresser taking up precious floor space. Or, purchase bed risers that raise a standard bed frame to accommodate rolling bins or drawers under the bed for off-season clothing storage or shoe storage. Photo © nastazia/Fotolia.com

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