Waking up with a sore neck? Your pillow could be the culprit.
While pillows are sometimes seen as the afterthought to a bedding display, they actually play a crucial role in your quality of sleep. After all, your neck takes up a decent percentage of your spine, so you should give your pillow the same attention you’d give your mattress.
Picking a pillow is a highly personal choice. Some people make the decision with preconceived notions, like, “I need something fluffy” or “I prefer something firm” or even, “I don’t care, as long as I’m surrounded by lots of pillows!”
We get it—choosing a pillow is difficult. But once you know what to look for, you’ll be one step closer to catching some zzz’s with the perfect cushion for your sleep.
How you lay your head a night plays a big part in deciding the kind of support you need. No matter what position you find most comfortable, there’s a pillow that can make it even better.
Sleeping dorsal side down does come with one caveat - it increases your chances of snoring. Gravity causes the tongue to lay back further and block your throat, resulting in disrupted breathing and a buzzing sound. While the noise may not bother you, it may not be so great for your significant other.
That’s why it’s best to go with a pillow that offers some height, like a wedge shape or even a couple pillows stacked on top of each other. The loft keeps your neck supported and throat at a comfortable level.
Our recommendation: Medium firm pillows made of latex or memory foam are a good choice. The material holds its height and keep you place, so you won’t be tossing and turning throughout the night.
Stomach sleepers are little unique when it comes to picking pillows. Because their heads are so close to the mattress, sleeping sans pillow may be more comfortable.
If it doesn’t feel right to sleep without a pillow, then carefully consider your options. A firm, plump pillow will force you to sleep with your neck at an odd angle, which can lead to discomfort or a pinched feeling when you wake up.
Instead, you should stick with a thinner, softer option.
Our Recommendation: Pick a thin foam or polyester pillow. If you can afford to splurge a little, a thin goose down pillow would be a great investment. As long as the pillow is soft enough to keep your head as close to the mattress as possible, you’ll rest easy.
The majority of sleepers prefer the side position. However, it does come with a couple challenges. Sleeping on your side requires more support to keep your neck at its natural angle. Because there is so much room between your neck and shoulder, you will need a firm pillow that your head can reach comfortably.
Some shoulders are broader than others, so it may take some trial and error to figure out the best pillow height for you. Many side sleepers start with a thinner pillow, but if you’re experiencing discomfort, then invest a thicker pillow.
Our recommendation: Get the best support with an extra firm latex or memory foam pillow that’s contoured for comfort and has a high loft.
Don’t have a designated sleeping position? You’re not alone - many people find themselves adjusting throughout the night. Luckily, there’s a pillow for you too!
What you need is a pillow that can compensate for all of your sleeping habits. A softer pillow with a lower center supports your neck, no matter what position you sleep in.
Our recommendation: Pick a pillow with varying materials, so you can easily adjust as you sleep. Polyester pillows can scrunch up or flatten out quickly, keeping up with you as you switch positions throughout the night.
What goes into your pillow matters just as much as it’s shape. Pillows can be made with anything, and the material inside determines important factors, like how well it holds it’s shape or retains heat. So, choose wisely.
If you need a pillow that keeps it’s shape, memory foam is the way to go. As the name suggests, these pillows are usually made from a solid piece of polyurethane foam and will conform to the shape of your head while supporting your neck. Because the material takes a while to recover its original shape, you can lay for hours without any disruption to your position.
However, proceed with caution if you are a sweaty sleeper. Memory foam does not handle moisture well, and can take a while to dry out if it becomes wet.
Similar to memory foam, latex foams offers a lot of the same benefits in terms of holding shape and conforming to the sleeper’s position. However, the durable material is more water resistant and allows for easier evaporation if wet.
The rubber-like foam is also mildew proof and anti-microbial, making it a more sanitary pillow option. However, you should steer clear if you have a latex allergy.
Don’t let allergies get you down! Polyester pillows are hypoallergenic, offering similar support to down pillows but without the sneezing or sniffling for those who may be allergic to feathers.
Lacking the structure of a foam, polyester pillows can be flattened or fluffed up quickly, so you can adjust it easily for your needs. Available in a variety of densities and heights, polyester is probably the most common and least expensive option you’ll find.
Feathers are the material that most people associate with pillows. We’ve all seen at least one TV show or movie where a pillow fight ends with a cloud of feathers.
While iconic, they don’t usually make the best choice for head rest. They lose their structure quickly and poor quality pillows may result in a sharp poke from a stuck out feather.
However, they are the most natural option. If you go this route, select a high quality goose down pillow with fill power.
When testing a pillow, you’re never going to get the same effect of a full night’s sleep from just a few moments of laying down in the store. What may feel heavenly for a few seconds could turn out to be uncomfortable after a night’s worth of rest. Instead, find a pillow with a good return policy, and try it out a week to test the comfort.
Finding the perfect pillow doesn’t have to be a chore, now that you know what to look for. What other tips do you follow when searching for a pillow? Let us know in the comments!
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