Your Simple Guide to Choosing the Right Pillow
Did you wake up with a stiff neck or shoulder this morning? Does it happen often? You’re not alone. Many people suffer from chronic pain in their head, neck, and shoulders due to a poor sleeping posture or unsupportive bedding. And while you might know the benefits of a good mattress, you also cannot ignore the importance of a good pillow.
If you’re sleeping on a worn-out pillow, it’s time to get a new one. Even if it isn’t old and tattered, the wrong pillow can cause headaches, as well as neck and shoulder tension.
Why Does Your Choice of Pillow Matter?
There are many factors that can affect your quality of sleep, including lifestyle, food habits, stress, certain medical conditions, and even the quality of your bedding.
If your neck and shoulders aren’t aligned, or are positioned at an angle that causes crunching and twisting, this can lead to back strain and sleeplessness. As with mattresses, the ideal pillow doesn’t just feel comfortable but also provides proper spinal support and alignment for uninterrupted sleep. A relaxed sleeping posture encourages easy breathing, better blood circulation, and waking up fresh and rejuvenated
Is It Time to Change Your Pillows?
Generally, bed pillows must be replaced every 18 months. Even if your pillows don’t appear worn out, chances are that you’re not getting the right neck or spinal support. Organic pillows tend to last longer than synthetic ones. Just like your mattress, high-quality natural pillows will provide you with long-term benefits.
If you’re not sure whether your pillows need a change, try these simple tests.
First, take off the pillowcase and examine your pillow. Does it smell or have stains? Is it torn? These are all signs that you need a new pillow. Over time, bedding collects dead skin cells, mildew, mould, fungus, and dust mites. These can trigger allergies, affect breathing, and release odours that make it difficult to sleep.
Next, fold your pillow in half. If it remains folded instead of springing back to its original form, it needs replacing. With large, king-size pillows—whether natural or synthetic—you’ll need to fold them into thirds, not in half.
How to Pick the Right Pillow
Choosing the right pillow is a very individual process. There is no universal pillow shape, size or material. While you may prefer a memory foam medium loft pillow, your partner may feel more comfortable with a firm wool pillow. Consider your sleeping position as well as your desired pillow firmness, size, and filling type to buy the one that provides maximum support and comfort.
Choose the Right Fill/Fiber
There is a wide range of fill options. It’s important to note that none is perfect and each has its pros and cons. Base your choice on your own needs and preferences.
Since woolen pillows are naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to mould and dust mites, they’re particularly suitable if you suffer from severe dust allergies. They can also absorb sweat from your head and neck and help regulate your body temperature during sleep. This heat regulation keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. They also tend to be quite firm, which is great for your neck and shoulders. However, if you’re a stomach sleeper and don’t want your woolen pillows to be too firm, choose alpaca wool over cashmere.
Like wool, cotton pillows are also naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and mould. They are perfect for those with dust allergies and chemical sensitivities. However, cotton filling tends to flatten out, which means it must be replaced regularly.
Latex pillows are usually firmer than cotton or wool, but they’re still quite comfortable. They retain their shape and cannot be squished or folded to your desire.
Like wool, they resist mould and dust mites, which makes them perfect for allergy sufferers. Contoured latex pillows are perfect for giving extra support to the head and neck, or decreasing movement during sleep. However, latex does have as much ‘give’ as memory foam and can be quite heavy and expensive.
These pillows have become increasingly popular in the last few years, particularly because of their ability to conform to your sleeping posture. As you lay on the pillow, your body weight and temperature cause the foam to soften and contour to the lines of your head, neck, and shoulders. This self-contouring ability makes memory foam pillows the perfect choice for people with body pain and disturbed sleep. While some memory foam pillows have an unpleasant smell caused by VOCs, this is not the case with organic pillows.
Choose the Right Pillow Firmness
Typically, there are four levels of pillow firmness: soft, medium soft, firm, and very firm. The softest is a feather pillow, which is flexible and comfortable enough to suit most sleeping styles. The firmest pillow is wool or memory foam; a heavy and moldable option perfect for neck and shoulder support.
|Soft||Typically made from cotton, polyester, or feather, it offers plenty of give and allows your head to sink in.||Back and stomach sleepers|
|Medium Soft||Provides mid-range support for almost every kind of sleeper. It has slightly less give than soft pillows.||Back and side sleepers|
|Firm||Usually made from memory foam or polyester, it’s the perfect balance between soft and very firm. Provides good head and spinal support.||Side sleepers|
|Very Firm||Holds its shape with very little give. Typically made from super-dense memory foam.||Side sleepers with neck pain|
Consider Your Sleeping Posture
Your sleeping posture is an important factor to consider when choosing your pillow. You can determine this by paying attention to how you fall asleep and how you wake up. Your pillow should help keep your spine in a neutral position, with your hips, back and neck perfectly aligned.
- Stomach Sleepers – Stomach sleepers usually have the most back and neck pain. This is because they twist their necks to one side during sleep. Over time, they twist their neck and misalign their spine. The right pillow for a stomach sleeper should be neither too thin nor too thick. If too thick, it can make your neck stiff and sore; if super-thin, you might have to employ your arms to support your neck.
- Side Sleepers – Side sleepers need a slightly firmer pillow than stomach sleepers, with the thickness determined by the broadness of your shoulders. The centre of your neck and nose should form a perfect line, and they should be completely supported by the pillow. If you need your arm to further support your head or neck, it means your pillow is too thin.
- Back Sleeper – In order to maintain a healthy posture and avert back pain, back sleepers need to choose a pillow with medium loft and firmness. Additionally, they should choose fill materials that conform to body pressure, such as memory foam. A pillow that’s too thin or soft can cause your head to lean back further than it should, while a thicker pillow can push your head forward. Both can cause back and neck pain.
The right pillow is important, but choosing it isn’t simple. You need to know how you sleep and what the right material and firmness is for you. Organic pillows help reduce neck pain because they are not stiff and are meant to support the neck. Use our guide to buy the best pillow for you.