Getting a good night’s sleep depends on how a lot of variables line up. In addition to having a good mattress and comfortable sheets, things like climate control, lighting and mental distractions all play a role in the quality of your rest.
There are many factors that come into play for a good night’s sleep: your mattress, temperature, distracting noises, and light (or lack thereof). But have you ever considered your pillow a significant player?Having the right mattress is a great start to sleeping better, but if your pillow is terrible, you may still be tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.
Choosing the right pillow can make a significant difference in how well you sleep and how likely you are to wake up free of any aches and pains. The purpose of a pillow is to support your head, neck, and shoulders so that they stay comfortably aligned with your spine.Extensive research has shown that different pillow types and materials offer a range of support and comfort, depending on an individual’s sleep needs. We discuss what factors to consider when choosing a pillow and how to test a pillow to know if it’s right for you.
- 1 How Do I Pick The Perfect Pillow?
- 2 How to Choose a Pillow: Everything You Need to Know
- 3 Why Is the Right Pillow Important?
- 4 What Is the Best Pillow Based on Sleeping Position?
- 5 Other Elements in Pillow Choice
- 6 When to replace your pillow
- 7 How to choose the best pillow for neck pain?
- 8 What size is a standard pillow?
- 9 Does your mattress matter to your pillow choice?
- 10 What are the different types of pillows?
- 11 Which way do you sleep on a memory foam pillow?
- 12 How can I be sure I am using the right pillow?
- 13 What is the best type of pillow to use if you are a back sleeper?
- 14 What is the best type of pillow for a side sleeper?
- 15 What is the best type of pillow for stomach sleepers?
- 16 Should my shoulders be on my pillow?
- 17 Is it better to sleep with a hard or soft pillow?
How Do I Pick The Perfect Pillow?
Okay, let’s start from square one. At the end of the day, your pillow’s most important job is to support you in your go-to sleeping position, all night long. And when I say, “support,” I don’t just mean that it feels soft and cozy. The right pillow should keep your head, neck, and spine, all in neutral alignment, and support the natural curvature of your spine. Keeping a neutral spine not only alleviates neck pain, it also relieves pressure throughout your entire body.
Now, here’s the tricky part: each sleeping position requires a different type of pillow in order to maintain healthy posture. But before I tell you exactly what each style of sleeper should look for, don’t forget about the fun part of pillow shopping! Once you’ve covered your body’s needs, and you’ve found a pillow that supports a neutral spine, you can dive into all the little details that satisfy your wants. There are, after all, hundreds of pillows out there, so you might as well find the one that’s perfectly suited to you.
You see, your sleeping position is just one reflection of your slumber habits, and there’s a lot more to consider when you’re on the hunt for your perfect pillow. For example, hot sleepers, memory foam fans, eco-friendly folks, and latex lovers are all likely to want specific types of pillows in order to accommodate their personal preferences. Remember: your pillow should always support a healthy posture, but it should also be compatible with your whole self.
How to Choose a Pillow: Everything You Need to Know
There are many factors that come into play for a good night’s sleep: your mattress, temperature, distracting noises, and light (or lack thereof). But have you ever considered your pillow a significant player?
Having the right mattress is a great start to sleeping better, but if your pillow is terrible, you may still be tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.
Why Does the Right Pillow Matter?
Finding the right pillow can greatly improve your quality of sleep because it helps your sleeping posture. Do you ever wake up in the morning and say, “I must have slept funny,” as you try to massage out the kink in your neck? We’ve been there, too. A good sleeping posture helps you sleep better and wake up without those aches and pains.
The right pillow will help keep your spine stay in alignment while you sleep (a.k.a. help with your sleeping posture), regardless of your preferred sleeping position. With a pillow that supports healthy posture, your neck, shoulders, back and hips will get the support they need so you wake up pain-free.
While the pillow you choose is largely based on your personal preference, finding the right pillow also depends on the sleeping position you prefer. Are you a back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper? This will determine the amount of support you need from your pillow.
Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
For back sleepers, your pillow should support your neck and head, but not so much that your neck is propped up at an unnatural angle. Remember, you want your spine and neck to stay aligned while you sleep, so back sleepers probably want a medium-thick pillow—something that’s not too full, but not too flat.
Side Sleeper Pillow Options
If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow should support your head in a neutral position, keeping it aligned with your spine. Because your shoulder takes most of the pressure when you sleep on your side, you may want a fuller, firmer pillow to give your neck the support it needs and take some of the weight off your shoulder.
Pillow Styles for Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleeping can cause neck, back, and joint pain and is often considered the most stressful sleeping position. Many experts recommend training yourself to gradually change to another position to ensure a better night’s sleep. We know that you can’t change your sleeping habits overnight, so if you do sleep on your stomach, you’ll want a pillow that’s softer and a little less full. This will help keep your spine as neutral as possible.
Why Is the Right Pillow Important?
A pillow is designed to support the head, neck, and shoulders so that the spine can stay aligned during sleep. The position of your spine influences your posture, an important part of overall health. Sleeping on a pillow that doesn’t provide adequate support can lead to a variety of problems, including neck pain and poor sleep quality.
The right pillow can help you get a better night’s sleep. The quality of your sleep can impact almost all aspects of your health, from helping your immune system to improving your mood. Bedding, especially your pillow, is a key element in creating an ideal sleeping environment that can help your body maintain good posture and ensure consistently good sleep.
What Is the Best Pillow Based on Sleeping Position?
When you choose a pillow, you should consider your sleeping position. Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach will affect the position of your spine and how much support your head and neck will need while you rest. You can select or adjust a pillow’s size, height, and firmness to accommodate the position you usually sleep in.
If you are a back sleeper, it is important to find a pillow that will support the natural curve of your neck. One option is a cervical pillow that is higher in the bottom third and slopes down in the center where your head lies. A standard pillow that is medium to thin in height may also offer enough support for your head without changing the angle of your neck.
Back sleepers also need a pillow with a medium firmness that allows the head to be aligned with the spine. It also prevents the pillow from becoming too flat while you sleep. Consider a memory foam pillow as this type will shape itself around your head and neck.
Most people are side sleepers, sleeping in a fetal position or straight on their side. Side sleepers require a larger amount of support from their pillow, both in height and level of firmness.
It is recommended that side sleepers use a pillow that offers about 4 to 6 inches of height, which can help keep the nose aligned with the sternum, filling the space between the ear and the outer shoulder. This position prevents neck strain and helps you maintain a proper posture during sleep. Body pillows may also be a good option for side sleepers, as they can support the pelvis and hips.
Selecting a moderate to heavy firmness can also be beneficial for side sleepers. Fill materials like buckwheat hulls, memory foam, and latex tend to be firmer, while down pillows are usually softer unless densely packed.
People who sleep on their stomach may need to consider what parts of their body need support in order to maintain good spinal alignment while they sleep. A stomach sleeping position can put stress on the spine or the muscles of the back and shoulders. In some cases, experts advise people with back pain against sleeping on their stomach.
But if you feel most comfortable sleeping on your stomach, a pillow that is softer with a lower height may work best for you. Down and feather fill tends to be less firm than other materials and may be compressed to a comfortable height.
If you sleep half on your stomach and half on your side, or if you sleep with your arms under your torso, you may want to try a body pillow for extra support. Positioning yourself around a body pillow may give you a similar feeling to sleeping on your stomach, but allows you to arrange your head and neck so that they can comfortably align with your shoulders and hips.
Other Elements in Pillow Choice
Design elements like shape, size, and material contribute to how much or how little support a pillow can offer. Depending on the position you usually sleep in, you may want to think about how each of these factors will affect your posture and overall comfort.
The goal is to find a pillow that offers the right amount of support and helps keep your body at a comfortable temperature so that you can wake up feeling well rested.
The typical pillow is shaped like a rectangle and comes in several sizes that correlate with the width of twin, queen, or king size mattresses. Other common shapes include cervical or neck pillows that have rounded corners contoured to fit the head and neck and longer body pillows that can provide support from the head down past the hips.
Pillow size refers to how much space the pillow takes up when it is flat on the bed, while loft refers to how high or thick the pillow is. Pillow loft has a direct effect on how much support is provided to the head and neck and is an important factor when trying to prevent or relieve neck or back pain.
Material selection may be one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pillow. The type of material a pillow is filled with will determine its loft and firmness, which is useful to know when deciding how much support your neck and shoulders may need.
Different materials can influence how well the body regulates temperature during sleep. A lower body temperature tends to correlate with better quality sleep. Pillows made of fill materials and pillowcases that are breathable can lower a sleeper’s body temperature and reduce the likelihood of sweating during sleep.
People who have allergies or who are sensitive to certain materials should also pay special attention to what is in their pillows. Pillow protectors can also be purchased to help minimize contact with potential allergens like dust mites.
Pillows can be filled with a wide variety of materials. Some are more commonly available than others.
- Down: Down fill comes from the undercoat of a duck or goose. Down is an extremely soft material that can quickly flatten. So while it may offer a low loft profile for those that don’t need very much support, a down pillow may need to be frequently fluffed up to feel comfortable.
- Feathers: Feathers also come from birds but are the outer covering of a bird rather than the undercoat. They are flatter than down and include the quill. Feather pillows are firmer than down pillows, and may hold less heat.
- Memory foam: Memory foam pillows can be constructed with a solid piece of foam or with bits of memory foam inside the pillow. It can be designed to cradle the head or shift to accommodate a person’s movement while they sleep. Memory foam can be denser and less breathable than other materials, which may make it harder to stay cool.
- Polyester: Polyester pillow fill looks similar to cotton. It’s the most common type of pillow fill, and it’s also the least expensive. However, dust mites like to live in synthetic pillow fills such as polyester, so people who have certain allergies may want to avoid this material.
- Latex: Latex can be synthetic or a natural material created from tree sap. Like memory foam, it may come as a solid piece or cut into many small pieces. Latex can be heavier and firmer, and it quickly returns back to its original shape after you press it.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillow fill is made of dry seeds. This filler tends to be very firm and can shape itself around the head and neck. Buckwheat also tends to be better for maintaining a cool body temperature.
When to replace your pillow
Experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend replacing your pillow every 18 months or so. Pillows can be packed with mold, dead skin cells and dust mites.
Totally grossed out? Try adding a pillow protector to extend the healthy life of your pillow. To determine if it’s really time to get a new pillow, test it by folding it in half and seeing if it springs back to flat. If it doesn’t, it’s time to find a new place to rest your head.
While there are dozens of factors affecting how well you sleep, having a pillow that supports your preferences and sleep style goes a long way. With the right pillow and maybe even a smart display to sense your sleep, you’ll be off to dreamland in no time.
How to choose the best pillow for neck pain?
A medium-firm pillow is the best option if you suffer from neck pain, and this will give proper support to your head and neck without putting too much pressure on any area. You may also want to try specialty pillows like a cervical pillow explicitly designed for people with neck problems.2The Best Pillows for Neck Pain
What size is a standard pillow?
Does your mattress matter to your pillow choice?
Yes, your mattress and pillow firmness should work together to ensure proper alignment. It’s a good idea to look at your mattress and pillow together, rather than just looking for the right kind of pillow. Top reasons a mattress affects your pillow choice: A softer mattress will cause your body to sink, leading to neck pain and poor alignment. A firm mattress will not contour your body shape, and you may find that a softer pillow is more comfortable. Is it healthy to sleep without a pillow? Learn everything you need to know in our article and find out if it’s healthy to sleep without a pillow.
What are the different types of pillows?
While latex pillows offer many benefits, including their softness, responsiveness, breathable properties, and durability, they can be costly. These pillows provide similar bounce-back properties to memory foam while offering comfort and flexibility. Furthermore, latex pillows have excellent pressure-point relief and spinal support. Also, latex naturally keeps cooler than memory foam, and when shredded, it provides even better, more prolonged air circulation, further enhancing its cooling effects. Moreover, latex pillows are hypoallergenic, making them resistant to dust mites, molds, and mildew.412 Different Types of Pillows for Every Sleeping Position
Which way do you sleep on a memory foam pillow?
Lay your new memory foam pillow flat on your bed, and turn it so that the largest of the two curves faces the foot of your bed. This position provides maximum support for your neck and head, regardless of your sleeping position (except for stomach sleepers). If you lie down, the pillow may feel too hard at first, but as a few minutes pass, it should conform to your head, neck, and shoulders with help from your body heat.
Please note, when using a memory foam pillow, we recommend you avoid sleeping on your stomach because this position will place your head and neck at unusual angles and may cause stiffness or discomfort the following morning.5How to Sleep on a Memory Foam Pillow: Tips for Better Slumber
How can I be sure I am using the right pillow?
When choosing a pillow keep in mind the follow things: The right pillow should keep the head, neck, and spine, all in neutral alignment, and support the natural curvature of the spine.
What is the best type of pillow to use if you are a back sleeper?
What is the best type of pillow for a side sleeper?
What is the best type of pillow for stomach sleepers?
Some experts suggest avoiding stomach sleeping altogether, as it tends to position the upper cervical spine at end-range rotation or extension. However, for stomach sleepers who can’t sleep any other way it is recommended you find a pillow with low loft, soft support and a compressible fill like feathers or down alternatives
Should my shoulders be on my pillow?
The pillow for your head should support your head, the natural curve of your neck, and your shoulders. Sleeping on your stomach can create stress on the back because the spine can be put out of position.8The Best Sleeping Positions for Your Neck and Spine
Is it better to sleep with a hard or soft pillow?
While too soft pillows get flattened, over time, with the pressure of the head, the firm ones tend to maintain their loft. Firm pillows ideally provide good support to the head, neck, and back. Stomach sleepers usually prefer soft pillows while side sleepers would prefer a firm one.9Should Your Pillow Be Hard Or Soft