While your mattress is an important part of getting a good night’s sleep, people don’t often think about their pillows. Your pillow largely determines your sleeping posture. And while a new mattress can be a significant investment, new pillows are easier on your finances. There are quite a few things to consider when choosing pillows, so we’ve tried to simplify the process and help you rest easier.
There are general guidelines that match sleeping position with pillow type, but since most of us switch sleeping positions throughout the night, there are no hard and fast rules. Side sleepers, for instance, may want a firmer and thicker pillow. Look for one that’s as thick as the distance between your ear and outside shoulder. Stomach sleepers may want a soft pillow underneath their head. A pillow under your stomach and pelvis may also help prevent back pain. Back sleepers may want a flatter, more supportive pillow, to keep your head and neck in alignment.
Materials and Special Features
Down pillows tend to be the fluffiest, but a combination of down and feathers will be firmer and often less expensive. If you’re allergic to down, there are alternatives made from synthetic materials that soft, supportive, and affordable. Either way, it’s important that the outer fabric is tightly woven with no fibers or feathers poking out. Memory foam pillows are thicker and firmer. You can choose from solid memory foam or memory foam clusters, which feel more plush to lie on while still offering the support of foam. There are also hybrid pillows that mix foam clusters and fiberfill so you get the best of both worlds. Some other features to consider are pillows that have cooling properties if you tend to overheat and pillows that are adjustable if you want to change up the firmness from time to time.
Mattress and Pillow Combination
This combination can be a game changer when it comes to maximum comfort. If you use a firm mattress, then a softer pillow may be better, because the pillow is lying on a firm surface and needs to adapt to the pressure of the weight of your head in your starting sleep position. If you have a softer mattress, then a firmer pillow may be better to keep your head and neck aligned.
Similar to when purchasing clothes, check the care label before choosing a pillow to make sure you’re willing to wash it as recommended. Most pillows are machine washable, but some are dry clean only, have front-loading machine restrictions, or only allow spot-treatment. Your pillows will last longer if you wash them two to four times a year and use a pillow protector to keep them clean and safe from wear.