Scenic Erie Station Village

Give Your Pillows the Shoe Test

Brown Nike sneaker on yellow background. Photo credit: Maksim Larin

August 2021


For something people use every night, we tend to forget about our pillows. But just like virtually every other product, they have a limited lifespan. And their degradation happens so gradually that it’s easy to never even notice a pillow is no longer doing its job. So, how long should a pillow last? Depending on your sleep habits and the quality of your pillows, their useful life can be anywhere from two to seven years. That’s a pretty big difference. Luckily, there’s a quick and easy way to test your pillows, thanks to sleep specialist Michael Breus. It’s called the shoe test. If you’re reading this at home, you should head straight to your bedroom and give it a try.

Just grab one of your shoes – make sure it’s a clean shoe – and a pillow. Fold the pillow in half and place your shoe on top of it. If the pillow is springy enough to flip the shoe off and unfold itself, there’s still plenty of life left in it. However, if the weight of the shoe is enough to keep the pillow folded in half, you need to go shopping. That pillow is no longer able to adequately support your head.

If you’re up for doing additional pillow tests, consider this. When a pillow is on its last legs, it will feel lumpy because the materials inside have deteriorated. It will also flatten faster, resist fluffing, and begin to stain and discolor from sweat and air pollutants. If that sounds like your pillow, do your body a favor and invest in a new one. You’ll sleep better and feel better.