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Soft or Structured, Which Pillow Type is Best for Sleep?

At some point, we’ve all been startled awake by our alarm. Your limbs aren’t quite caught up with the fact that it’s the morning, so you reach over to fumble for the snooze button and knock your alarm clock to the ground. 

Suddenly, a sharp pain jolts up your shoulder and into the back of your neck, and you crane your head to see that your feather pillow is as deflated as a balloon. Now you have a whole day’s worth of neck pain to look forward to. 

There are several differences between soft, unsupportive feather pillows and natural pillows that use structured latex. The best pillow for you depends on how you sleep during the night and which pillow will help cushion your head in a neutral position for optimal spinal alignment. Ultimately, you need a supportive pillow that may alleviate some pain points associated with pillows that aren’t fitting your sleep style.   

Differences between structured latex vs. feather pillows

Feather Pillows

Duck and goose feathers comprise feather pillows, and they offer a light and malleable material for your pillow. The feather fill allows you to fold and mold your pillow to a size and shape that you can sleep on. However, throughout the night, they tend to sink and lose their shape. Your neck alignment, which is dependent on your pillow shape and height, might be lost as your feather pillow sinks. If you prolong the amount of time that your neck is out of alignment with your spine, then you could experience neck and shoulder pain over time. Feather pillows aren’t known for their durability — whereas latex offers similar benefits with more premium specifications.1 

Latex Pillows

Rubber tree sap comprises natural latex; more specifically, we use the Talalay method and source our rubber from the Hevea brasiliensis tree. Latex is a flexible, moldable material that creates a firm pillow to help support your head and neck to avoid muscle stiffness while cradling your head and neck all night long for comfort. Another perk for Talalay latex is its resistance to dust mites and allergens. If you’re prone to allergies or illness, latex may help lessen the symptoms, which could allow for a healthier, more rejuvenating sleep. Latex pillows are also more durable than your traditional feather pillows, which may offer more of a value proposition for those in the market to upgrade their sleep experience.2

Proper Positions for Your Neck While Sleeping

Your sleep position may alter which pillow specifications you will require. However, there’s a good rule of thumb to live by when it comes to how the neck should be positioned during sleep. For optimal neck and spine alignment, your head should be in a neutral position—with the tip of your nose in line with the center of your chest. But, what pillow specifications are best for the various types of sleep positions?

Back Sleepers

There are many benefits to sleeping on your back. First, the neutral position of your neck and back will help with alignment, as you aren’t twisted into any potentially harmful contortions. For those who sleep on their back, a pillow with a lower height will help cushion your head in a neutral position. If you sleep on your back with a pillow with a higher loft, then your head might be forced into a position—like pushing your chin into your chest—that strains your neck and shoulder muscles. 

Side Sleepers

Often called the “fetal position,” side sleepers require a different type of pillow to maintain the neutral, well-aligned spine and neck positions. Your shoulders elevate your head, so your pillow should be able to fill the negative space between your head and the mattress. To keep your head in a neutral position, find a pillow that has a higher loft and greater density. Additionally, your spine and hips, especially, may benefit from placing another pillow or a rolled-up blanket between your knees. The extra padding could help alleviate stress around the hips. 

Improper Positions of the Neck and Spine

When you don’t have a pillow that complements your sleep style, there could be many issues that arise. A bent neck could put a lot of stress on your shoulders and spine, especially if it’s a recurring problem. Pillows that are too low or too high, depending on your sleep style, may misalign your head from its neutral, natural happy place. Or, perhaps your pillow hasn’t lasted as long as you wanted like feather pillows, which don’t have as long of a life as natural latex pillows. 

Stomach Sleepers

It’s understandable—old habits die hard. Perhaps you’ve slept on your stomach your entire life, and it hasn’t given you much of an issue. However, sleeping on your stomach doesn’t follow the natural curve of your spine and it isn’t conducive for a neutral position for your head. When you sleep on your stomach, you most likely have to turn your head to the right or left to, you know, breathe. The constant torque on your neck muscles throughout the night may cause stiffness in the neck or strained muscles.3 

A flatter latex pillow with low height and softer density may help keep the head from contorting into a comfortable position—because it’s difficult to change a habit while you sleep. As you break the habit of stomach sleeping, you could then transition to a natural pillow with more height and density to cushion your head into a neutral position that is comfortable for you. 

Health Issues Caused By Unsupportive Pillows

Over time, an unsupportive pillow that doesn’t fit your sleep style could lead to long-lasting health concerns. There can often be pain associated with keeping your head into a torqued or contorted position for roughly 8 hours during the night. These unhealthy angles could strain your spine and neck muscles, which could drastically limit your head’s mobility the next morning.4 

Strained neck muscles may also lead to more serious health concerns, like frequent tension headaches. In the most severe cases, unwanted torque on the neck could lead to nerve compression or herniated discs. Again, these are extreme cases, but an unsupportive pillow could be a detriment to your sleep health.5 

Benefits of A Natural, Supportive Pillow

A supportive pillow that complements your sleep style will help maintain a neutral neck and head position, which could offer several benefits. Natural latex pillows, especially, hold their shape longer than feather pillows and could be a wiser investment. Other benefits may include: 

  • Less fluffing and repositioning during the night
  • More restful sleep
  • Holds your head in the natural, neutral position throughout the night
  • Pain alleviation due to the proper neck and spine alignment
  • Durable material with a longer lifespan
  • Customization, as you can choose a pillow to complement your sleep style. 

JUVEA™ creates every pillow using the Talalay method, a meticulous and thorough process that crafts natural latex pillows that are durable and buoyant. No matter the sleep style, JUVEA has a pillow type that can give you ultimate comfort and support. Plus, JUVEA™ pillows come with a limited 10-year warranty. If any unexpected issues with our durable Talalay latex arise within the normal use period of 10 years, then JUVEA will work to meet your satisfaction. 

Our mission is to create a pillow that will help support your neck in the proper positions for healthy sleep. Browse our pillow collection to find your dream match.

Soft or Structured, Which Pillow Type is Best for Sleep? References:

  2. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.