How to Choose the Right Pillow

Your sleep could be heavily affected by the type of pillow that you use every night. Since it’s recommended that you should change your pillow every year or two, perhaps it’s time to evaluate the types of pillow you’ve been buying and if you need to switch up the size, material, or firmness. 

The right type of pillow may depend on what position you sleep in, the amount of density you prefer, and if you experience any allergic symptoms. The wrong type of pillow could cause back and neck pain, lack of sleep, and exacerbate your allergies. 

Determine which size pillow you need

There are a couple different sizes of pillow that you could choose from. The size of your pillow can depend largely on how you sleep, the shape of your body, and the size of your bed. 

Standard or queen sized pillows are the most common size of pillow and can be used for most sleeper-types. Not only are they able to fit into most standard pillow cases, they are also made to fit at least two pillows on queen beds. This size of pillow is suitable for just about every sleep-type, except for a couple.

King size pillows could be better options for sleepers who toss and turn in the night. The extra room on both ends of the pillow may allow the sleeper to not have their head fall off the pillow in the middle of the night, jarring them awake. If you’re a person who likes to read or do work in the bed, king size pillows are great to prop yourself against, as well. Finally, there is the option to use the king size pillow as a body pillow — wedging it between your knees to support your spine as you sleep on your side. 

Pillow materials and their characteristics

There are a number of different materials that can be used for pillows. Each one has its own properties and effects on your sleep. Some materials may cause allergic reactions, stiff muscles, or spinal problems — it’s important that you consider the materials in your pillow to achieve your best sleeping experience. 

Memory Foam

One of the most popular pillow materials, memory foam will support your head and neck by engulfing your head with manufactured foam. Furthermore, they will slowly spring back to its original shape, which could be interpreted as durability or longevity. However, the processed foam used to make memory foam pillows is oftentimes treated with harsh chemicals that could emit a displeasurable smell. That “chemical smell” could trigger allergies or headaches. 

Feather and Down

Pillows might use feathers from water fowl and down from the bellies of ducks in order to create the filling. Despite seeming like a more natural pillow filler, feather and down are often treated with chemical processes to clean and bleach them. This type of filling might not offer much support for the next and spine for a long period of time and could accumulate dust and other allergens that may disrupt your sleep. 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat pillows are made with the hulls that contain buckwheat seeds. This Japanese-style pillow can regulate your temperature as you sleep and offer neck and spine support. These pillows that can weigh up to 10lbs naturally shift as you move. However, the washing process for buckwheat pillows may be arduous for some, as the hulls could leak out of the pillow over time. 

Latex

Harvested from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, latex is derived from the milky, white sap that’s drawn from the tree. The substance is veritably water and rubber particles and, with certain manufacturing processes, can be made into a reliable pillow filler. JUVEA™ Talalay latex pillows are treated by molding, vacuuming, flash freezing, heating, and cured — all without the bad effects of harsh chemicals, VOCs, or petroleum. 

A durable pillow filler is also recommended to increase its longevity. Other pillow materials might only last for a year or two years, but a reliable material like Talalay latex may drastically further the lifespan of your pillow’s use. 

The right pillow density for you

A pillow’s recommended density is dependent on how you orient your body as you sleep through the night. You might be a side sleeper, a back or stomach sleeper, or possibly a combination of them all. The goal of a pillow’s density is to ensure that the space between your head and the mattress is filled with supportive pillow material. 

When you sleep on your side, your shoulders will naturally raise your head off of the mattress more than if you sleep on your back or stomach. To fill in that negative space between your head and mattress, it is recommended that you opt for a pillow with higher density. The pillow will cradle your head and could help align your spine for improved, restful sleep. 

On the flip side, it is advised that you use a different density if you tend to sleep on your back or stomach for a majority of the night. There will be a smaller gap between your head and mattress when you sleep on your back or stomach. In other words, a lower density in your pillow might better suit your needs. A higher density when combined with back or stomach sleeping might wedge your head in an uncomfortable position; however, a lower density may ensure proper alignment of your head, shoulders, neck, and spine throughout the whole night. 

Additionally, you might be a person who uses more than one pillow throughout the night and might require different densities for each individual pillow, depending on their utility. For example, if you like to keep a pillow in between your knees for added hip and spinal support, you might spring for a low density pillow in such cases. However, if you or your significant other are a side sleeper and require a pillow to wedge behind the back to deter from rolling over during the night, a high density pillow could assist in keeping the body on its side while you sleep. Consider how many pillows you use and their purpose to determine what combination of pillow density will suit your sleeping needs. 

Conclusion

The right pillow could drastically alter your sleep habits. If you’ve experienced allergic reactions, stiff muscles or joints, or restless sleep to reposition your pillow, it could be time to make a more informed decision. We spend so much time with our pillows each night; it only makes sense to find the right pillow for our needs. 

Remember to assess how you position yourself during sleep or what reactions, if any, you experience with your current pillow. Then, follow our advice to try and achieve excellent sleep quality. Take our Pillow Finder Quiz or look through our pillow collection to find the right pillow for you.