A couple of factors affect how well you sleep each night. Your bed pillow included.
Getting the wrong pillow will intensify your neck, head, and shoulder pains. Therefore, you should take the time to determine which pillow is best suited for your sleeping habits.
Getting high-quality pillows that match your personal needs will ensure that you have a good night sleep. Moreover, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the next day.
How to Find Your Preferred Sleeping Position
The first thing before you even think about buying a pillow is to determine your preferred sleeping position.
Some people sleep on their back while others sleep on their side and still others sleep on their stomach.
Knowing the position that you tend to sleep in is important when picking the right pillow.
You will need to spend a couple of nights trying to discover your favourite sleeping position. Most people have a pretty good idea of the sleeping position that they prefer.
However, if unsure, you will need to spend a few days trying to confirm that indeed that is your preferred position.
When you go to bed, spend a few minutes on your side, and then on your back, and finally on your stomach.
Which of these positions feel most comfortable to you?
If you find that you have spent at least half an hour on your stomach position and have not yet fallen asleep, it is not your preferred sleeping position.
Again, you need to take note of your wake up every morning. Write down the positions that you wake up in for several days and then compare them. If there is an emerging trend, that is your preferred sleeping position.
Settle on a Preferred Sleeping Position
After spending some time thinking, tabulating and discovering your preferred sleeping position, it is time for you to settle on one position. This is a very important decision as it will determine the type of pillow that you select for your bed.
What is the Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers?
If you find that you are a stomach sleeper, then your pillow should be fairly flat and soft. Sometimes, you may not need a pillow at all.
Having a light, flat, and soft pillow allows your neck to be better aligned with your spine.
What is the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers?
If you discover that you sleep on your back, then you need a medium-firm pillow.
You need to take care and ensure that it is not too thick because it might push your head a little bit too far forward.
The pillow must also not be too soft to prevent your head from sinking down towards the mattress. Therefore a pillow that is thick and firm at its bottom will give your neck the support that it needs
What is the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers?
If you discover that your most preferred sleeping position is on the side, you will need a firm and thick pillow to help support your neck.
What is the Best Pillow for Mixed Sleepers
Sometimes, you will find that your preferred sleeping position is a combination of the 3 sleeping positions discussed above.
You will find out that there are many positions that are comfortable for you throughout the night.
If that is the case, find a medium thick pillow which is a bit soft so that you can shape it to suit the different positions that you find comfortable throughout the night.
How to Choose Your Pillow Filling
There are many different types of pillow filling each with their unique features. Some bad. Some good.
Therefore, if you have any medical issues such as asthma, chronic neck pain, allergies, or a headache, you will need to find the appropriate pillow filling material. You must also get a filling material that is dust and mites proof.
Again, you will need to decide which kind of pillow your budget allows. Some fillings are more expensive than others.
Down and Feather Filling
These two types of pillow fillings are closely related. They are typically made from the inner feather plumage of ducks or geese. You can choose the pillow filling with the plumage that you prefer.
Remember that more firmness is suitable for side sleepers compared to the less firmness that is suitable for stomach and back sleepers.
Pillows made from both down filling and feather filling are resilient and can last up to ten years. They allow air to flow because they are made of natural material.
However similar these two types of pillow fillings are, there are some slight differences.
Take a look at the table below to
|Down Pillow Filling
|Feather Pillow Filling
|Soft and light grouping of fibres from goose, duck, or swan. Located near the chest
|Soft and fluffy. Comes from the wing and back feathers of geese or ducks.
|Don’t retain their shape longer
|Retain their shape longer
|More of a cluster
|Flatter, heavier, and contains quill
|You’ll sleep more in the pillow
|You’ll sleep more on the pillow
|Wears down quickly
|Feather quill would pierce through the pillow cover and poke on your face
There is no scientific evidence that proves that either down or feather pillows make your allergies and asthma worse but there's a good number of people who prefer to avoid these type of pillows.
If you have a soft spot for the animals, you might wish to keep off the down and feather pillows for ethical and humane reasons.
You might also have conditions like asthma and allergies that will prevent you from buying this type of pillows.
If that is the case, then there are a couple of synthetic versions of pillow fillings that are available.
Keep reading to find out…
1. Wool and Cotton Filling
Wool and cotton are traditionally the common materials that have been used to fill pillows and make all other types of linens.
Wool and cotton pillow filling is particularly suitable for people suffering from severe allergies because these pillows are dust, mites, and mould resistant.
Pillows filled with either wool or cotton tend to be very firm and are therefore not suitable for stomach sleepers.
If you're a stomach sleeper but still want to buy a pillow that is hypoallergenic, you will have to find very thin wool or cotton pillow. Alternatively, you can open the zip on the pillow and remove some of the filler.
2. Latex Filling
Latex is a material extracted from the sap of the rubber trees. It is elastic and resilient.
Latex has been found to be suitable for people suffering from allergy because it is mould resistant.
Its pillows are cooler than the memory foam pillows.
The latex pillows come in all sizes and shapes and they can either be used as solid cores or shredded material when filling the pillows.
The only disadvantage of latex foam filling is that it:
- Doesn't give as much support as memory foam pillows
- Is expensive and heavy
- Doesn’t change shape (if you wake up frequently to shape your pillows, then latex pillows are not suitable for you)
2. Memory Foam Filling
Memory foam filling is made using polyurethane which is further mixed with some other chemicals.
Memory foam pillows come in different sizes and shapes including ones that are uniquely shaped like the S-shaped pillows.
They give great support for people with neck, jaw, and shoulder problems. Memory foam pillows are long-lasting and great at forming the contours around your neck and head.
If you are looking for a memory foam pillow, ensure that you get the high-density one because it doesn't get torn easily.
Unfortunately, the memory foam material retains a lot of heat and does not allow air to circulate freely. For this reason, it gets uncomfortable sleeping on it, especially on hot summers.
Also, if you move around quite frequently when sleeping, this pillow is not suitable for you because it doesn't mould into different shapes. It also has some unpleasant odour when it is new but the smell goes away after some use.
There are some health conditions and sleeping habits that may put normal pillow use out of reach. While everybody would love to have just a normal pillow, this might not be the best choice.
There are some speciality pillows that might help with your health conditions and sleeping habits but the claims that the pillows are special by their manufacturers have not been backed by research yet.
Special pillows can also be quite expensive to the average buyer. There are different categories of speciality pillows and some of the examples are listed below:
- Positional pillow - This is an n-shaped pillow that the manufacturers claim can help people suffering from medical conditions such as sleep apnea. The manufacturers also say that the pillow can help the sleeper to reduce turning and tossing throughout the night.
- Cervical pillows - This type of pillows are said to provide extra support to the lower part of your neck. They are said to help reduce neck tensions and severe headaches. Unfortunately, there has not been any sufficient evidence and research to back up this claim.
- Anti-snore pillows - If you have a spouse who snores at night, then these anti- snore pillows are said to help. They position the head properly so that the airway is opened thus mitigating snoring. The pillows help by lifting the chin away from the chest.
- Cool pillows - These pillows are said to be helpful when sleeping during the hot summer. They are said to absorb excess heat in order to keep you feeling cool throughout the night. They come with fillings that absorb the heat. Although everybody can use them, they are particularly suitable for people experiencing hot flashes.
- Oxygen pillows - They’re designed to help increase oxygen circulation. The free flow of the air will help you to breathe deeply and freely as you sleep. There have been some users who claim that the pillows help relieve pain but doctors are not sure how or why this technology works.
How to Test Out Different Pillows
1. Read the Online Reviews Before You Buy Any Pillow
Once you have determined that a certain pillow is right for you, you need to go online and check what people are saying about it.
If you have determined that a speciality pillow such as cooling or anti-snoring pillow is the way to go, ensure that the pillow has the quality the marketers say it does. Mostly by reading online reviews.
2. Price Should Not Be the Sole Determinant of Choice
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffett
It is amazing that the best pillow for your sleeping position might not be the most expensive one. Try out different pillows in different price ranges to determine the one that is best suited for your needs.
3. Try Lying Down on the Pillow
Most shops that sell pillows also stock mattresses. You need to try out the pillow sleeping in different positions to determine if it is good for you. Lie down for a few minutes because this will give you the most realistic idea on whether a pillow is suitable for you or not.
4. Try Out the Pillow Against the Wall
Sometimes it might not be possible to try out the pillow when lying down on a mattress. If that is the case, try standing next to a wall in your favourite sleeping position to see if the pillow will work out.
Note that you should place the pillow against the wall near your head. Your pillow must help align your body, neck and spine.
Sometimes it might not be possible for you to tell if your neck and spine are properly aligned and this is why you need to bring a friend along when shopping for a pillow.
4. Get Trials Periods and Money Back Guarantees
A serious pillow shop will most likely give you money back guarantee or a trial period to try out the pillow and decide if it’s suitable for you.
Some shops will allow you to return the pillow if it doesn't work out for you but, you’ll have to replace it with another pillow instead of them refunding the money.
Good night. Sweet Dreams
A good bed pillow is a necessary companion for a good night sleep. Luckily, you now know how to choose the best pillows for your needs (having read our pro tips).
Therefore, without further ado, snag your favourite pillow and catch some refreshing sleep tonight. Sweet dreams...ZZZ