How to Choose the Best Pillow
Tell us if this sounds like your experience: You decide you need a new pillow, so you hop on the internet and do a quick Google search. “What is the best pillow?” Instantly thousands of pages pop up with thousands of options. How do you know which one is the best pillow for you? Don’t worry! We’re going to give you a guide for exactly how to choose the best pillow.
Why is it important?
Before we get into picking out a pillow, it’s important to discuss the why. Why is being picky with your pillow important? Glad you asked! The makeup of your pillow is essential to a good night’s sleep. That might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true.
Think about it this way. The amount of bedding that you sleep with is fairly minimal. Without getting fancy, the only thing you really need for sleep is a covering (sheet, blanket, or both) and a pillow. So, it makes sense that your pillow is a key player in sleep.
The first thing to take into consideration is the type of filling. There are several types of filling to choose from, but we’re going to stick to the top three - Down, Down Alternative, and Memory Foam.
Down pillows are stuffed with feathers, typically from ducks or geese. In fact, the term “down” refers to the soft, fluffy feathers below a bird’s protective feathers that provide insulation. These pillows are known for having a fluffy cloud-like texture. While they are by far the most coveted and most revered for their comfort, they aren’t always the best option for the average person.*
Cleaning down pillows can be extremely difficult. When wet, the pillow filling clumps together making the pillow lumpy. Users have also reported the ends of feathers coming through the pillow and sharply poking them in their sleep. It’s also important to keep in mind any animal-related allergies. As we said, the filling in this type of pillow is animal-based and has the potential to irritate allergies.
Down alternative pillows are exactly what they sound like. Stuffed with synthetic fibers like polyester, these pillows simulate the feel of down without the cleaning issues, allergens, or poking. Something to keep in mind is that though these simulate the feeling of a down pillow, they are not the exact same. Those looking for a true down feel are better off sticking to down.
Arguably one of the most popular pillows, memory foam was invented in the late 1960s by NASA as an improvement for aircraft cushions. That technology was then transferred to mattresses and pillows.* This type of pillow is by far the best bang for your buck as it is extremely moldable to your personal sleeping preference. We highly recommend opting for a shredded memory foam pillow as it offers the most adjustment opportunity. You can check out our favorite memory foam pillow here!
You might not realize this, but the position you sleep in matters when choosing a pillow. Your pillow does the important work of cradling your head and neck, keeping your spine aligned, and ultimately preventing injury or discomfort due to sleep. When awake, you are conscious of your body’s position. You can make adjustments according to how your body feels. However, that’s a little harder to do when asleep. Picking a pillow optimized for your favorite sleeping position will make falling asleep and staying asleep easier.
Stomach sleeping, or the “freefall” position, is the second most popular sleeping position. This is despite being condemned by scientists as one of the worst for your body. Being propped up on your pillow can cause strain to your back and neck, leaving you susceptible to pain and injury.* If you’re determined to sleep on your stomach, opt for a softer pillow. This will allow your head to sink down to be level with your spine.
Side sleeping is by far the most popular sleeping position. In fact, 47% of Americans sleep curled up in the fetal position on their side.* Side sleepers should search for a pillow with a high density. Again, the goal is to keep the head and neck in line with the spine. When side sleeping, your neck bends as your head drops down to meet the pillow. Let the pillow do the work!
Back sleeping is definitely one of the most healthy sleep positions, even if it isn’t as popular.* A medium-density pillow is all that’s needed to optimize back sleeping.
The last point to keep in mind is the pillow material. Factories make pillows from all sorts of materials, and you may be tempted to go with the cheapest or more readily available option. We’re here to tell you to do the work upfront and weigh your options.
The material to get the most praise is bamboo viscose. Ultra-soft, comfortable, and breathable, bamboo viscose has become among the best-rated material for luxury bedding. Perfect for hot sleepers, bamboo viscose bedding is temperature regulating, wicking away heat and moisture from the body, and leaving the sleeper cool and comfortable. Not only that, but bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic. That means less washing and more sleeping. Bamboo viscose is a must for anyone looking for optimal comfort without the hefty price tag. Check out our favorite bamboo viscose pillow here!
As overwhelming as choosing bedding can be, we hope that our guide has given you the tools you need to get the best sleep of your life. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about choosing pillows!
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Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, April 3). Down feather. Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_feather.
Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, March 27). Memory foam. Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_foam.
N/A. “The 4 Stages of Sleep and What Science Says about Your Sleeping Position Read More At: Https://Www.scienceofpeople.com/Sleep/.” Science of People, 2022.
“What Are the Best Positions for Sleeping?” Sleep Foundation, 29 Apr. 2021, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleeping-positions.
Choosing the Best Sleep Position. 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/choosing-the-best-sleep-position.