Snuggle Up With the Perfect Pillow
Expert advice on how to find the pillow that suits your sleep style.
Pillow Stuffing Options continued...
"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."
A combination of 50% feather and 50% down works well because the feathers act like springs and are "quite supportive," Breus says.
Do you avoid down or feathers because of asthma or allergies? Several studies have shown they pose no greater risk than a synthetic pillow -- and may, in fact, be better for you. But if you're allergic and prefer not to take a chance, synthetic down pillows are an option.
If a good-quality down pillow is out of your price range, other options include polyester fibers, such as Primloft, that mimic down. But Breus warns that although alternatives to down pillows are cheaper than some pure down pillows, they also won't last as long.
Shopping for your Perfect Pillow
When shopping for a new pillow, keep these tips in mind:
- Consider more than cost. "Just because a pillow costs more does not automatically make it a better pillow or the right pillow for you," Bernard says. "What matters is how the pillow feels to you. Most of the time, you can find something that works without breaking the bank."
- Try it out in the store. "If you're in a store and there's the option to lie down, do that," Breus says. If that's not an option, Breus suggests that you stand next to a wall in the position in which you like to sleep, put the pillow against the wall as though the wall were a vertical mattress, lean your head against it, and ask someone to tell you if your neck is tilting one way or another. Your neck should be in line with your spine.