Snuggle Up With the Perfect Pillow

Expert advice on how to find the pillow that suits your sleep style.

From the WebMD Archives


Pillow Stuffing Options

There is no shortage of fillings you can find stuffed in a pillow these days. The most common ones are down-feather combinations, foam, or polyester fiberfill. Memory foam and latex pillows have become quite popular in recent years, particularly among people looking for additional neck support.

What's right for you? That may depend on how you're feeling on a given day, says Breus, who recommends that most people have more than one type of pillow to choose from. A pillow wardrobe, in other words.

"Pillows serve multiple purposes," Breus says. For instance, you may want a pillow to support your neck if your neck is bothering you one day. But once your neck feels fine again, that same supportive pillow may not be the most comfortable for you, Breus notes.

Here's what to look for in each type of pillow filling:

  • Foam: "Go by the density," Breus says. "The higher the density, the less breakdown, and the more support you will have without getting too soft."
  • Memory foam: These are popular because they reduce pressure points by continuously molding and adjusting to the shape of your body as you move throughout the night. Memory foam pillows come in various shapes, including a popular contoured S-shape, which is meant to support the neck. Breus notes that memory foam material is known to make sleepers hot, and can sometimes emit an unpleasant chemical odor.
  • Latex: This is the firmest type of pillow, and it resists mold and dust mites, Breus says. Latex pillows may also help with back and neck alignment, as they're often contoured for neck support.
  • Wool/cotton: Wool and cotton pillows are hypoallergenic and resist mold and dust mites. Both also tend to be quite firm. So if you love a squishy pillow, these fillers aren't for you.
  • Down/feather: Many sleep experts recommend these as one of the best pillows for a good night's rest. "One of the great things about down pillows is that you can move the stuffing around so that you have the most support where you need it," Bernard says. "Plus, it's soft, yet firm enough to give you the support you need."