Can’t sleep? Get new pillow with 6-page instruction manual

The woman who is my wife bought me a new pillow the other day. I’m not sure what prompted her to do it, other than my years of whining and complaining about how much I hated my old pillow. Actually, I had two pillows, each one older, softer and less supportive than the other. I would have gone out and bought a new pillow on my own, but I haven’t been in a department store in years and was afraid I’d get lost and wander into the wrong section and accidentally buy new cushions for the couch or maybe a blender by mistake.

One of the problems with my old pillows (or at least a problem I blamed on my old pillows) is that my head always felt warm whenever I laid my head on them. Thinking the problem might have been with our electric blanket rather than my pillows, I tried replacing our old electric blanket with a snappy new one. I got a special deal on one that was solar-powered. Inexplicably, that didn’t seem to help my sleeping at all.

My new pillow is called a Qutool, and it came with a six-page owner’s manual. There’s a stamp on the front of the owner’s manual that says the pillow contains “Certified Flexible Polyurethane Foam,” although it doesn’t mention exactly who did the certifying. If it’s the National Association of Insomniacs, we may want to ask for our money back. I thought polyurethane was the stuff I painted onto the deck each summer to preserve the wood; I had no idea it was such a ubiquitous product.

The owner’s manual is divided into multiple sections. The first is called “Getting Started,” which cautions the proud new Qutool pillow owner to “avoid cutting the pillow with scissors when opening the pillow packaging. I was only able to read it once I had successfully opened the pillow packaging without also cutting up my new pillow.

The second section is about fluffing your new pillow, and offers instructions on doing so using either your hands or a clothes dryer. If using your hands, the instructions encourage you to fluff the pillow by “gently patting, squeezing and massaging” them, which is significantly more intimacy than I ever showed my previous pillows. The instructions advise new Qutool owners to gently fluff your new pillow every night before sleep and every morning before making the bed in order to maintain optimal “fluffiness” levels.

The third section of the owner’s manual is called “Adjusting the Pillow to Fit You.” That section offers tips on how to adjust the “fluffiness” level of your new pillow depending on whether you sleep primarily on your back, your stomach or your side. A footnote reminds the new Qutool owner that the foregoing fluffiness instructions are “just suggestions,” and the new pillow user should “listen to his or her body” and adjust the fluffiness by increasing or decreasing the amount of Certified Flexible Polyurethane Foam in the pillow as needed.

The final sections of the owner’s manual demonstrates how to align your neck and spine when lying your head on your pillow for maximum comfort and optimal cranio-spinal alignment, followed by information about how to contact the manufacturer to receive free oral instructions for personal customization of the fluffiness of your new pillow in the unlikely event the six-page manual proved inadequate for the task. The final section also includes a heartfelt thanks from the manufacturer for buying one of their pillows as well as instructions on how to care for your pillow, a list of things not to do to your pillow, and an invitation to return your pillow to the manufacturer if you are not 100% satisfied with it after 100 nights of sleeping on it – which sounds to me like it might be an invitation to get a free replacement pillow every calendar quarter.

I was so intimidated by the length of the owner’s manual that I didn’t sleep on my new pillow for a full week while I feverishly committed the owner’s manual to memory. Once I finally put the thing to actual use, it worked like a charm, and I have slept like a baby from the first night I used it. A comfortable pillow is particularly important to me because I need a lot of sleep. I like to get in at least five hours of sleep every day. And at least another eight hours at night. In the interest of conservation, we were able to recycle my old pillows as a pot holder and welcome mat.

Tom Tyner of Bainbridge Island writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper.