Pillow guide: How to choose a pillow?
Most people don’t think too much about their choice of pillow unless they sleep badly or suffer from pain (usually neck or back pain), but the right pillow can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, your health and your well being.
Choosing the right pillow is the first step. There’s no single pillow that’s great for everyone. We are all different shapes and sizes and have different sleeping styles and so need to choose a pillow which is suited to each of us. Trouble is, there’s loads of different pillow types, where do you begin?
Don’t worry, here’s a handy pillow guide to help you to narrow down the options, you’ll be sleeping better in no time:
Step 1. What is your sleeping style?
Probably the most important factor in choosing the right pillow. This determines the required pillow support level (thickness) to adequately support your head and align your neck with your spine.
Do you mostly:
- Sleep on your front (you are a tummy sleeper) – Choose a softer pillow (down pillow or a soft, low-fill synthetic pillow)
- Sleep on your back (you are a back sleeper) – Choose a medium thickness pillow (high-fill down pillow, orthopaedic memory foam pillow or medium synthetic pillow)
- Sleep on your side (you are aside sleeper) – Choose a medium-high thickness pillow (high-fill down pillow, memory foam pillow or medium-high density synthetic pillow)
- A mixture of all or some of these (you are a mixed sleeper) – Choose a medium thickness pillow (high-fill down pillow or medium synthetic pillow)
If you are a side sleeper, you should try putting a soft, low-density pillow between your knees (especially for women). You might find this unusual, but it helps to align your upper hip properly, taking the pressure off and making you very comfortable.
Step 2. Do you suffer from allergies?
Most quality down or feather pillows have usually had their fillings processed in order to remove allergy-causing particles (dander), they would also normally feature a highly-containing case to keep everything in. I’m actually allergic to feathers but I don’t have any problems with most good quality down pillows. If you suffer badly from allergies or if you’re not sure then stick with hypo-allergenic synthetic pillow fillings.
- Generally not suffer from allergies and are not allergic to feathers – Choosing any pillow filling would be fine
- Have a known allergy to feathers, suffer from asthma or have other significant allergies – Stick with synthetic fillings such as polyester (Hollowfibre, Microfibre) or memory foam pillows
Step 3. How much do you want to spend?
We’ve reviewed pillows from £2.50 to £150 each and like most things, you get what you pay for. I love a bargain but will always avoid very cheap pillows because they never last, they loose their support and shape and will reduce your sleep quality. Likewise, at the top end, very expensive pillows are not a lot better than some other pillows at half the price.
Which are you:
- I want to keep costs down (£20 or less) – Go for a well made synthetic pillow from a good brand
- I’m happy to spend a little more if it means a better quality pillow (£20 to £50) – Choose a top-end synthetic pillow, luxurious down pillow or memory foam
- I want the best pillow I can get (£50+) – Choose the best quality and most luxurious down pillow
Step 4. Do you suffer from sleep problems?
Lastly, there’s a wide choice of pillows designed to help people overcome particular sleep problems:
Do any of these affect your quality of sleep:
- Snoring – Consider using an anti-snoring pillow. It can work for some.
- Sleep apnea – There are pillows designed to help relieve sleep apnea symptoms
- Neck pain – There’s a wide range of orthopaedic pillows designed to offer special neck support for neck pain and cervical spondylosis sufferers
- Back pain – Look for a pillow which is specifically designed to help with spine alignment
- Pregnancy – Choose a pillow designed with special support designed for 2nd and 3rd trimester pregnant women