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November 01, 2008

Pillow talk: Cushy Life (bedding boutique) profile

Sweet dreams begin with where you lay your head

Joy Gregory

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Anyone who’s ever toured a show home or booked themselves into a five-star hotel knows bedroom designers are serious about how a pillow looks on a bed.

Flip the number one pillow consideration from form to function, however, and everyone who’s slept with the wrong pillow also knows that even the best looking pillow has got to be more than a place to rest a weary head.

Functional talk about what a pillow is supposed to do is the name of the game at Cushy Life, a bedding boutique located in the heart of the Kensington shopping district. The store sells all of the soft furnishings you need to outfit a bedroom; from bedding to decorative cushions, shams, bed skirts and draperies. But when the talk turns to pillows, Cushy Life proprietors Michelle and Jonathan Edwards get personal, fast.

“If they’re buying pillows, we ask a lot of direct questions about their sleeping habits. We ask about their sleeping position, whether they wear pajamas and whether they wake up in the same position in which they fell asleep, or if they’re someone who tosses and turns,” says Michelle.

The answers matter because they impact everything from pillow firmness to the size of pillow you should buy.

Firmness matters
Pillow firmness matters because it can have a direct impact on how well you sleep and whether you wake with pain in your neck or back, says Dr. Gena Boris, a chiropractor with a clinic in southwest Calgary.

Even if the pain can be linked to other health issues such as arthritis, the wrong pillow can contribute to a poor sleeping posture. “Typically, stomach sleeping is the worst posture you could go with at night and it wouldn’t really matter which type of pillow you’re using if that’s your sleeping posture,” notes Boris.

For back and slide sleepers, however, a pillow without enough height to support the natural curve of the neck might lead to pinching and joint problems. On the other hand, “a pillow that is too high will cause the muscles on the same side of the pillow to be over-stretched,” says Boris.

While it’s tough to generalize about what makes a good pillow, support is critical. Some of Boris’ clients have found great relief from using a water pillow. Individuals adjust support by filling or draining the liquid core, which shifts with the sleeper to maintain correct head and neck support. Others love their pillows made of “memory foam” material, which feature contours that support the head and neck.

As the purveyors of high-quality bedding, Cushy Life’s clientele typically want information about the virtues of down pillows and whether they provide enough support. “They definitely can,” says Michelle. “We want the client to leave the store with a pillow that provides enough support. That is the first goal. Budget will often dictate how we get there. More down can mean more money, but we have many qualities and lofts to choose from.”

A pillow with a firmer feather core, which is then surrounded by high-end down, is another option for people who want additional support, plus the luxury of down, adds Jonathan.

Allergies? Keep it clean
Cushy Life employees also field a lot of questions about down and allergies. “A lot of people think they are allergic to down when they’re really allergic to what lives in untreated and inferior down,” with dust mites and other contaminants posing the biggest problems, says Jonathan.

To preclude issues related to contaminants all of the products sold as “down” at Cushy Life are treated with the Zurguard Down Processing System, which guarantees the down is hypoallergenic and completely allergen free. To further guard against contaminants, each pillow also features a tightly-woven ticking that is dust mite proof and made from 100 per cent Egyptian cotton. Add an Egyptian cotton pillow protector you can remove and wash every six months or so—and pillow maintenance is a snap.

As for the cost of a good pillow, Cushy Life’s lowest-loft pillows, which you can expect to last about 20 years, start at around $100, slightly more than you might expect to pay for a water pillow or one made of memory foam. As for how much you could spend, the sky’s the limit. Cushy Life sells a few Eiderdown pillows for $3,320 a few times a year. “That’s more for somebody who wants to say they’ve got the best-of-the-best,” says Michelle with a smile. CL

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