Whether your kid is nailing you in the face with one or you’re sinking into one at the end of a long day, pillows are such a constant part of our lives that we often forget about them. That is, we don’t think about them until we wake up after sleeping on the wrong pillow. Then, our necks cramp, our heads ache, and we feel like we did something a lot more strenuous than sleep for a few hours.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” pillow. We only have pillows that suit us and those that don’t. If you want to choose the former of the two, our tips for choosing the perfect pillow to sleep can help.
Because we tend to say things like, “It’s as soft as a pillow,” we often think the best pillows are the plushest. But pillows come in a whole spectrum of textures, including:
- Medium soft
- Medium firm
Pillows on the softer side are plusher but offer less support, while firmer ones offer more support but are less plush. How much support you need depends largely on your preferred sleeping position at night.
Pillows for Side Sleepers
The most important thing for side sleepers is keeping your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. Otherwise, you may find yourself waking up in a lot of pain. When you lay down on a softer pillow, your head tends to sink throughout the night, so it’s usually best to go for a medium firm or firm mattress.
Your leg and hip joints also affect your spinal alignment. Putting an additional firm pillow between your knees before you hit the hay will help keep your joints in proper alignment for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Pillows for Back Sleepers
When you sleep on your back, your spine is more likely to stay in alignment than when you sleep on your side. Even so, you can throw your spine out of joint if your pillow is too soft. For back sleepers, a pillow right in the middle can offer plush comfort and ample support.
Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers have the opposite problem of side and back sleepers. Instead of needing to avoid having their heads sink too low, they need to make sure not to prop their heads up too high to keep their spines in the right position. Stomach sleepers usually benefit from softer pillows. Going too firm usually leads to neck pain.
The height of a pillow—also known as loft— is just as important as firmness when it comes to choosing the perfect pillow to sleep. Remember: the purpose of a pillow is to help keep your spine aligned while you’re sleeping.
- Side sleepers should have high loft pillows.
- Back sleepers should have medium loft pillows.
- Stomach sleepers should have low loft pillows.
Think of loft height the same way you would think of firmness. The higher the loft, the greater the support. The lower the loft, the less the pillow supports your neck.
Like human beings, it’s not the outside, but the inside that counts when it comes to pillows. A pillow’s stuffing impacts its texture, its loft, and its comfort. There are myriad options available when it comes to stuffing. Read about the pros and cons of a few common choices.
Down feathers usually come from a duck, goose, or even swan. Specifically, these feathers are the undercoating—the feathers that lie close to the bird’s skin on its chest. Pillows stuffed with down are light, moldable, and incredibly durable. However, they do tend to retain body heat and might be a little too soft for side sleepers.
Note on Down vs. Feather Pillows
Down pillows are different from feather pillows. While down uses the undercoating, feather pillows use the feathers taken from the wings. These are cheaper and offer similar benefits, but sometimes contain pricky quills that may come out of the pillow. You can get pillows stuffed with both down and wing feathers for the best of both worlds.
Memory foam got its name because if you push your hand down on it, your print will stay there for a moment before it reverts to its normal shape. In a way, it remembers your body shape. That makes it the perfect choice for sleepers who need more support. However, some don’t like the fact that memory foam isn’t as moldable. In this case, shredded memory foam is a good alternative.
This up-and-coming player in the pillow game hails from Japan. It’s filled with the hulls of buckwheat seeds and is firm, malleable, long lasting, and breathable for a cooler night’s sleep. The caveat is that these pillows don’t lend themselves to those who need something soft. They also tend to make a rattling sound in the night.
Even though the inside is the most important part of the pillow, we still need to consider the exterior. After all, that’s the part that touches our face and head. Most people don’t sleep on bare pillows. Consider the types of pillowcases you can choose.
Satin pillowcases are good for those who struggle with hair breakage and dry skin. Since the material is slick, it doesn’t muss up hair or dry out the skin. The issue with satin is that it’s synthetic. That means it’s less breathable and won’t last as long as other types. It’s also trickier to wash than other pillowcase varieties.
Linen fabrics are made from the flax plant. Because they’re natural, they’re durable and easy to wash. They’re also breathable and antibacterial. However, linen sheets tend to wrinkle easily and feel coarse to the touch. This can make it difficult to get comfortable.
Cotton sheets offer all the benefits of linen sheets. They’re all-natural, easy to wash, and breathable. They’re cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Cotton, while crisp, isn’t harsh on the skin like linen. While cotton sheets have a slightly shorter lifespan than linen, they stand the test of time when washed and stored properly. Once you’ve found the perfect pillow, look no further than our cotton pillowcase covers for your best night’s sleep.