Top positive review
1,038 of 1,048 people found this helpful
on September 10, 2010
A. My Back Story.
I'm a stomach/side sleeper and had been doing research on how a pillow can affect morning back pain. I had been using inexpensive store bought pillows my entire life, but after doing extensive research, and reading every single Amazon review on this product, I decided to try the latex zoned pillow. Initially, I bought the plush version, but I loved it so much, a few weeks later I also bought the firm version, so this review applies to both.
B. The Smell.
First, let me address the top criticism I see in other reviews. True to the other reviews, this pillow does have an initial strong smell (I consider it akin to the new car smell). However, that smell was significantly reduced after just one day, and completely gone within 3 days. Personally, I didn't find the smell offensive enough to even wait a day before use. But, since each person is different, all it takes to get around the smell is to take the pillow out of the sealed plastic bag it comes in, and let it air out a few days before using. The smell will be completely gone forever, so don't let warnings of a strong smell stop you from experiencing this product.
C. The Product in Use.
I have experienced four unique benefits due to this pillow:
1) Spinal column alignment.
This pillow has all but eliminated my back pain. As a stomach sleeper, when my head sinks into the pillow, while my shoulders do not, my spine naturally straightens. I get the same benefit when I sleep on my side. This is a major change from before, where my head and shoulders stayed level, forcing my spine into a slight curve. I find that the slightly extra straightening of the spine has taken away the back pain almost completely.
2) Neck support.
Before I often woke up with a crook in my neck if I were in deep sleep. And if I weren't in deep sleep, I kept waking up to change positions. If you think about it, your head and neck or not flush so when you sleep that way, you're begging for neck pain. Most of us use multiple pillows to create the ideal setup, but whoa to those who fall into deep sleep without doing this, or who move out of the optimal position while sleeping. The way this pillow is designed, the edged of the pillow is firmer than the center, due to the larger size of the holes at the center (hence the term "zoned"). It's hardly noticeable until you lay on it, but because of that small difference, my neck doesn't sink into the pillow with my head, as it would with a regular pillow. My neck remains elevated above my head, and hence no abnormal pressure is applied to my neck while I sleep. The net result is that even when sleeping deeply, I don't wake up with the neck pain anymore.
3) No more hot pillow.
Body heat makes pillows hot. Warm breath makes pillows hot. And, we all know that you lose more heat through your head than any other part of the body. So you end up turning over your pillow or repositioning to avoid the heat. With this pillow, the heat dissipates, and the pillow stays cool, and I get a more relaxing night. I placed my hot laptop on the pillow for a few minutes just to experiment. When I removed it, the pillow was only slightly warm, and even then, only in the exact footprint of the laptop. The whole pillow was cool again within seconds.
4) Great for sitting up in bed.
An added benefit I found, especially after purchasing the firm pillow, was that these pillows are great for propping yourself up in bed. The conform so well, and hold that position, that I've actually dosed off sitting up in bed!
D. Firm vs. Plush.
There is a difference between the firm and plush versions. Preference is going to depend on the individual, but I'll at least share a few thoughts that you might find useful:
1) The plush version is softer than the firmer (I know, but it had to be said). As a result, it conforms better, so this is the version that I actually rest my head and neck on if using only one. This is also the version that will give you that "laying in the clouds" feeling.
2) The firm version is springier, making it significantly less conforming. As a result, it won't give you that perfect body alignment, by itself. However, it is more supportive, and thus it is better for propping up either a body part, or yourself entirely.
3) Neither version is memory foam, and so both return to shape as soon as pressure is released.
4) Both versions dissipate heat well.
All that said, if you are going to only buy one, I recommend going with the plush. However, I find them more useful together. Generally, I find it best to sleep with my arms sandwiched between the two pillows, with my arms actually resting atop the plush pillow. Although this is counter intuitive, I then place the firm pillow atop my arms and rest my head on the firm pillow. That's just the alignment that works best for me right now. It may be different for other people, and it may change for me at some point, but I think it's good to have both just to have options.
E. In Conclusion
I've had these pillows for about a couple of months now, and I still think they're great. They've helped me considerably with getting a better night's sleep, and with morning back and neck pain. I have since bought an additional plush pillow for a friend who was had been waking up with back pain, probably due to being forced to continuously sleep in an unnatural (for her) side position on a couch of relative, who has recently undergone major surgery, and whom she is staying with in order to assist in the recovery. According to her, the pillow has helped to alleviate the pain. So, I wholeheartedly recommend this product.