Science & Technology



Helpware: This column is guaranteed to put you to sleep

Harold Glicken, Tribune News Service on

Published in Science & Technology News

Technology is all about functionality. I've always marveled at the mechanical pencil, not to mention the replaceable eraser head. There are sound machines that help block out a neighbor's barking dog. And don't forget the electric toothbrush.

And then there is MyPillow.

If you watch TV, especially cable channels, you've probably seen Mike Mindell, the exuberant inventor and pitchman for MyPillow, which, he gushes, is "guaranteed the most comfortable pillow you've ever owned."

The idea for MyPillow came to Mindell, now a recovered crack addict, in a dream. With the help of his children and friends he experimented with dozens of designs until he found the right filling -- interlocking polyfoam.

He hawked his pillow at trade shows -- major chains weren't interested in carrying it -- until he reached the point when he was ready for prime time. He has sold 25 million MyPillows through his print and TV ads.

I'm not one to buy items that slice and dice and are advertised on TV, often late at night. But I fell for MyPillow after watching dozens of pitches (while I rode my stationary bike and watched cable news on my iPad). I've experimented with different pillows through the years -- including down models and ones I got at Costco for $5 each. None helped prevent a stiff neck that's only getting worse as I get older.

Mindell was offering a 50 percent discount off his premium pillows if I bought two for $80, plus shipping. On his website,, I answered a few questions about my size tee-shirt and whether I sleep on my back or side, and then I chose a size. If you're unsure about which model to order, search for Mindell on YouTube. Unfortunately, I ordered one that was way too firm and one that was way too soft.

The pillows arrived all scrunched up. They need to be put into the dryer to make them the proper size. The pillow is washable, too. Now it was off to dreamland.

It takes a few nights to get used to the pillow. My larger pillow is very firm, yet it conforms to head and neck, just as Mindell promises. The lighter pillow is, well, too light. In his ads he denigrates down pillows and other designs for not properly aligning head and neck.

I've been using the pillow for two weeks. Despite my initial skepticism that any pillow would help lessen my neck pain, it didn't make it worse, as my old pillows did. I won't say it's the most comfortable pillow I've ever owned -- my stiff neck still requires visits to a physical therapist -- but it's worth trying. If it doesn't work for you, it can be returned for a refund (the customer pays for return shipping). How you'd package a pillow escapes me.


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