In Search of the Perfect Pillow

Not so perfect for me

In a further sleep related post (see the previous memory foam horrors) I seem to be on an endless and fruitless quest for the perfect pillow. I am a borderline insomniac these days. About one night in seven, I manage to get what I would call a good night's sleep. The rest of the time, I fall asleep some time between midnight and one o'clock, wake up at four or five o'clock in the morning, and can't get back to sleep again until I drop off at around 6.30 or 7 am. Only to wake up not long after, when my husband, who has been sleeping like the proverbial log, wakes up. Not that he makes a lot of noise, but I'm just a light sleeper.

At this time of year, when I wake up, I spend a bit of time listening to the dawn chorus - and very beautiful it is too. Almost worth waking up for. There's a song thrush that is particularly wonderful and I spend so much time listening to him that by the time I've got back into bed, I'm even more wide awake.

I often wake up with work ideas swirling around in my head or - more disturbingly - political arguments. Also worries. Also past mistakes. And songs. Fragments of the Merry Widow. Why? I read for a while and sometimes that works, but often it doesn't and I just carry on reading until the longing for tea overcomes the longing for sleep, and I get up.

Whenever I do wake up in the early hours, I find it strange that the pillow that seemed reasonably comfortable the night before, has become stuffed full of concrete in the intervening period. When I pointed this out on Facebook, a friend observed that 'the soft side flowers about fifteen minutes before your alarm' which is absolutely true. When you have to get up, that's when you're at your most comfortable.

Anyway, I keep looking. The pillows I find are either too expensive or too, too solid. The one in the picture (Aldi, and therefore reasonably priced - and most of their stuff is very good) didn't work out at all. Even when I put my head on it, it felt like concrete. And yet when I slid it out of the pillowcase today, to replace it with something a bit softer, it felt OK so I could see why I had bought it.

I don't know what the answer is. I suspect it lies in a pillow I can't afford. If you know of one at a reasonable price, let me know. A few weeks ago, I found myself listening to - I think - Bob Mortimer on Desert Island Disks.  When asked what 'luxury' he would take with him to the desert island, he said it would be his pillow. Not a fat pillow, but a flattish, softish, supremely comfortable pillow. I almost contacted the programme to ask about Bob Mortimer's pillow.

Many years ago, when I was a very young woman, I visited a friend in the far south of Ireland, in West Cork. Her name was Catty - short for Catherine, like me - and she was no longer young. She lived in a little cottage in a village street. (A bit like me, now, as well.) And she put me up for the night in her own bed while she insisted on sleeping in her spare room. It was a feather bed, with feather pillows. Like something from a story. Like the Dulac illustration for the Princess and the Pea.  Normally, I'm quite allergic, but I wasn't allergic to Catty's bed at all. And, dear reader, it was the nearest thing to heaven I have ever known. It felt like sleeping on a cloud. If I'd reached out, I swear there would have been a harp next to me. But I didn't reach out. I slept like the proverbial top and had sweet dreams as well.

Nothing, since then, has ever matched Catty's feather bed. Unless you know better. In which case, do let me know in the comments.