We got our boosters on Tuesday. For me, it kicked in harder than the first two doses - which isn't to say that it was too terrible or anything, but this time it got noticable enough that I had to take a day off. The arm pain was a bit stronger and lasted longer, I had a light feaver and I also just so happened to get a horrible shoulder cramp on the same day I got the symptoms. Probably unrelated to the vaccine itself, but that messed me up even harder than its symptoms, lol. It made me almost unable to move for a day.
And now for an actual different topic, completely unrelated to COVID: Sleep. Beware, this is gonna be a long one.
I remember that a few years back in this thread, I asked a question akin to: "How the fuck do you even sleep?". As a side sleeper, sleeping comfortably had always been a struggle for me. I was just never able to figure out where to put my arms, and no pillow was really comfortable to me. Everything was way too flat and too hard, and nothing really supported my neck well.
I'm glad to announce that I've finally made some major progress in this area. It all started when my old, trusty pillow, that I had used for over a decade at that point, started dying. It had never really quite been the perfect pillow for me, but at least I could sleep with it, unlike with most pillows. It was way too flat, like all of the others, but it was mushy and I could fold it to increase its height, which made it okay for me. However, towards the end, it had lost so much of its stability that even folding it twice still wasn't enough to get enough height and support out of it. In short, it was finally time for a new pillow, and with my birthday in October, there was opportunity for that. This started a search for the right pillow that would end up lasting multiple months.
The first pillow I tried, and the one I got for my birthday, was a side sleeper pillow with arm and leg rests
, also usually referred to as a pregnancy pillow. I knew this was gonna be a bit of a gamble and might not be the right pillow for me, but I wanted to give it a try, anyways. As expected, it wasn't quite right and I wasn't able to sleep properly on it, but I found that it had both positive and negative aspects. One thing I liked about it was its head piece. It had a nice height and was super soft. It actually felt perfect for my head. On the other hand, what I didn't like at all were the arm rests, because I found they were way too wide for my arms. They forced me to put my arms in a very uncomfotable position. They also made it really annoying to get into bed in the first place, and I always just found myself accidentally pushing them off the bed while asleep. Needless to say, we returned the pillow and started looking for alternatives.
The next pillow I tried was this monstrosity of a side sleeper pillow
. Since it was being advertised specifically for side sleepers, and since it had some decent reviews, some of which specifically praised its height and firmness, I thought maybe it'd turn out to be just what I needed. I also wanted to give memory foam a try, since my girlfriend had been sleeping on it for years and it sounded so great. Boy, was I wrong about absolutely everything with this one. The pillow made me learn the valueable lesson that just because something is advertised as a side sleeper pillow, it doesn't mean it's for side sleepers. This was probably the most comfortable I had slept in years. The pillow was way too low and too soft, offering basically no support for my head. Unlike my old, mushy pillow, I couldn't even fold it to increase its height. I attempted only one night with it (in which I barely slept) before I decided to return it.
Since I had already retired my old pillow by this point, my girlfriend lent me some of hers while we were looking for more alternatives. These made me learn another valueable lesson. What I got from my gf were another memory foam pillow, but flat and rectangular, as well as smaller quadratic down pillow, for some extra height. I simply stacked these two pillows on one another, and unexpectedly, I actually slept really, really well on them. This helped me immensely in figuring out what I even needed. Aside from the previous pillow being way too low, I also felt that its weird shape made my arms really uncomfortable, because they had no place to rest (the pillow forced them into a steep angle). The conclusion I came to at this point: I needed something that was high in the middle, but low on the sides.
Around this time, I got the idea that maybe a cube-shaped pillow could be perfect for me. After searching for a bit, I even found a company offering one as their trademark product, but it was ridiculously expensive and their return policy was horrible, so I didn't feel like trusting them. Finding a good pillow is such an individual task that there's basically no other way than to order a bunch and try them all out for a while, so any shop not supporting that in their return policy immediately seems supicious to me. Investigating further, this shop felt like your typical trend company, making money by selling hip, trendy products rather than actually good ones. So instead of supporting that, what I did was to just buy two memory foam travel pillows
. These are smaller then your average pillow. My idea here was to get relatively normal pillows, but at a smaller size, so that I could stack them to get something roughly cube-shaped. After all, stacking already worked out greatly with my girlfriend's pillows, so maybe that was the way to go. Unfortunately, these once again didn't turn out to be the right thing for me. Two of these pillows offered too little height, yet three already too much, and I once again had to realize that memory foam didn't really offer the head support that I needed. I think this might have been the time when I finally gave up on memory foam.
After all these failed attempts, I was growing a bit tired and thought to myself: "Well, maybe I SHOULDN'T just buy one pillow after another and instead should look for some actual tips on what a side sleeper should look out for". I did just that and found a really useful article. I think it was by some website associated with the New York Times, but don't quite remember. This article focussed specifically on pillows for side sleepers, testing many of them by having multiple of their editors sleep on them over an extended amount of time. This find was what probably helped me the most out of anything. First of all, they confirmed the conclusion that I had already arrived at on my own: The fact that pillows specifically aimed at side sleepers are actually usually horrible for them. They had tested multiple of those and didn't recommend any of them. Seccondly, they mentioned that what worked for most of them was to either just stack pillows, like I had done before, or use regular down pillows with extra height. This was the tip that I had needed. I mean, I had already slept with just a regular down pillow all along and it had worked mostly fine, so why was I even overcomplicating things? Clearly, just a simple pillow was the way to go for me.
They even recommended a bunch of pillows in their article, but neither of them available in Germany (or at all, really - it was an older article). Some of them were also quite expensive. I felt a bit insecure at first, but eventually decided to just order two different down pillows from a local online shop. A narrower one, and a wider one with a separate rest for a neck. I didn't actually expect the latter one to work out for me, since it was yet another special side sleeper pillow and I had already given up on those, but since things had taken multiple months by that point, I wanted to accelerate my search, so I decided to order two pillows at once and just return one of them. Anyways, I also decided to go with latex flakes as a filling, since latex (unlike memory foam) is supposed to be quite firm, which I hoped would finally offer enough head support for me. The two pillows arrived, and unfortunately, neither of them was still quite right. However, with the narrower one, I felt like we were getting close. If only it had a bit more height, it could be just what I needed. That was when I discovered that this shop also offered latex flakes as a stand-alone product. I returned the special pillow with the neck rest, but kept the normal pillow and ordered 1 kg of additional latex flakes.
You won't fucking believe this. I got the flakes, filled up my pillow with them, and it actually worked! I finally had a pillow that I could sleep comfortably on. I had to push it to its absolute limit and fill it up so much that it basically became a rubber duck (probably a sign that I should have gone with a larger pillow size), but what matters is that I now have a pillow that actually works for me and that I can sleep comfortably on.
Now this pillow still isn't quite perfect for me. I already mentioned the problem with my arms lying uncomfotably when they have to lean against a high pillow at a steep angle. I found that the opposite can actually be a problem itself: If my arms have nothing to rest on - which is the case here, since the pillow is so narrow - it'll also be uncomfortable. In order to sleep on this pillow, I have put my bottom hand under my head, so that my arm can rest on the pillow a little. I actually already used to sleep similar to this with my old, mushy pillow, but it's only now that I finally begin to understand the reason for that. This has given me a pretty specific idea on what the perfect pillow for me would look like: High, firm, narrow center piece, with flat, angled side pieces, going at an angle somewhere between 20° and 45°. I also need something to put between my legs, but just wrapping them around my blanket usually works fine as a workaround. I don't think a pillow with the perfect shape for me actually exists, but it's good to finally understand what I even need. I struggled for over a decade coming to terms with how difficult sleeping is, and I feel like only just now I finally got some kind of closure on this.
So yeah. Turns out, sleep is fucking rocket science, and even thousands of years of human history apparently weren't enough to figure it all out.
--------------------Feel free to visit my website/blog - it's updated rarely, but it looks pretty cool!