There is arguably no object in your life that you use more than your pillow. You literally spend 8 or more hours each and every day lying on it (often without giving it a second thought).
Despite this, many people don’t know the first thing about pillow technology, design, or their important qualities. This often leads to people either feeling a little confused when shopping around, or just makes them pick the first thing on the shelf that “feels right” through the plastic packaging.
Needless to say, both of these situations are less than ideal for an object that is such a frequently used part of our lives…
With that in mind, today we are going to help you learn everything you could ever want to know about picking the perfect pillow.
Let’s get started.
8 Different Types Of Pillows
Body pillows are designed to support and comfort the entire length of your body while you sleep (as opposed to just the head). As you might imagine they are much longer than a normal pillow and are often between 50 and 60 inches in length.
They are ideal for side sleepers and people who roll around a lot in their sleep. Due to this, they are highly popular with pregnant women. However, they do create a feeling of separation between you and your sleeping partner (which is undesirable for many people).
Memory Foam Pillows
It feels like memory foam came out of nowhere a few years ago and has taken the world by storm. This space age material was developed by NASA for use on the international space station. Now it is an integral part of our day to day lives that many people can’t live without.
Memory foam pillows contour perfectly to pressure placed on them by your body, and return to their original shape in the morning. They provide almost unbeatable support and keep your neck and spine in alignment throughout the night. Due to this, they are particularly useful for people with chronic joint pain that need reliable support.
Contour pillows are a reasonably specialized kind of pillow that are designed to provide people who wake up with neck pain in the morning some relief. Believe it or not, something as simple as changing your pillow can reduce the amount of discomfort felt each morning dramatically.
They are available in a wide range of specific shapes and sizes and are generally made out of memory foam due to the material’s supportive yet comfortable properties.
Down pillows are the oldest kind of pillow in the world. They are often filled with the fluff from very small feathers (usually from the underbelly of a duck like a goose or a swan) and are very soft.
They provide little support compared to firmer pillows but are extremely comfortable (especially for stomach sleepers). They can occasionally cause allergic reactions in some people and require fluffing up every so often to keep them as comfortable as possible.
Latex pillows were once highly popular, however, these days they have slightly been eclipsed by the invention of memory foam. Like memory foam, they are soft, highly supportive, and very durable (but memory foam is better in each of those three regards).
Latex pillows also suffer from breathability issues and can occasionally be mixed with polyurethane foam to increase affordability (which reduces durability). Unless you have no other choice, you’re almost always better off choosing a memory foam pillow over a latex one.
As the name suggests cooling pillows are designed for people who get hot during the night. They almost all rely on facilitating adequate airflow within the pillow to keep the sleeper cool. This is either done by designing intentional tiny holes throughout the pillow, or by using natural slightly porous fibers like bamboo (it’s softer than it sounds).
Some of the more advanced cooling pillows use a new “wonder material” known as cooling gel to provide even greater levels of heat dissipation throughout the night. They are usually a little more expensive than normal, but they get the job done.
Unlike most the other pillows on this list, bolster pillows are not intended for use while sleeping. They usually provide support for your back or arms when sitting upright in bed. They are usually tubular and come in a wide range of lengths.
Occasionally side sleepers like to use bolster pillows as a makeshift alternative to body pillows. And while they are obviously not as good as a purpose made body pillow, for many people they are better than nothing.
Pregnancy pillows are perhaps the most nonconformist kind of pillow on this list. You’ll be able to find them in a wide variety of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. Some pregnancy pillows will focus on just supporting the head and neck, but many are full body pillows that are designed to support you and your bump throughout the night. They are usually very soft, quite supportive, and are surprisingly effective.
The Best Pillows for Specific Sleep Positions
Ok, so by now you know the different kinds of pillows on the market. But which one should you choose? Unless you’re pregnant (or have chronic pain) then the main determining factor is the position you sleep in.
Of all the sleeping positions, stomach sleepers are chastised the most by medical professionals. It’s the unhealthiest way to sleep because the pressures that are placed on your spine and neck cause an unnatural upwards bend.
However, as we are sure you’ll know – you can’t choose how you like to sleep.
If you’re a stomach sleeper you’re going to need to look for a pillow that is as thin as possible to minimize the elevation between your head and body. You should also consider a pillow with cooling properties as the stomach sleeping position usually directs your warm breath directly on the pillow which heats it up.
Bonus Tip: Try putting a pillow underneath your hips to reduce the curvature caused by stomach sleeping to get a better night’s sleep.
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position in the world. It’s also the best in terms of neck and spine health too thanks to the reasonably straight line it forces between your back and neck. Side sleepers need the opposite of back sleepers and should go for a large, thick pillow. This is because when you’re sleeping on your side there is more room between your head and the mattress.
Don’t go overboard here, if you get a pillow that is too thick you’re going to start bending your neck in the opposite direction (which is just as bad as stomach sleeping).
Additionally, side sleepers will usually get a better nights sleep with a firmer pillow (or a memory foam pillow). Throughout the night softer pillows will deflate under the pressure of your head and slowly create a curvature that causes pain.
Back sleeping is less popular than side sleeping and is the sleeping position of choice for around 14% of people. Like stomach sleepers, back sleepers should look to get a reasonably thin pillow (for the same reason, just in the opposite direction).
Ideally, you want to find a pillow that will allow your head and body to be on the same level without any bend in your neck whatsoever. Supportive pillows are particularly important for back sleepers (memory foam is great). This is because there is a greater possibility of your head rolling during the night in this position which can easily cause you to wake up with a sore neck.
The Inside Scoop On Pillow Fill
So now we know the different kinds of pillow on the market, and we know the things you should be looking out for depending on your sleeping position. But what filling should you choose?
Here are some of the most common ones for your consideration.
Down – Down filling is light and cuddly and tends to hold its shape reasonably well. It provides a reasonable amount of support (but not as much as some other types). However, they are usually expensive, hot, difficult to clean, and require fluffing every now and again.
Feather – Feather filling is the bargain basement version of down filling. It’s cheaper than down and is still comfortable and supportive. However, it can have a slight odor that is unpleasant and over time the feathers align themselves with one another. When this happens the pillow becomes uncomfortable and as such, they need to be replaced much sooner than down pillows.
Polyester – Polyester pillows are the most economical kind of pillow on the market. They are inferior to every other filling type in every single way. The fibers inside start to clump together reasonably quickly which makes the pillow lumpy. Additionally, the polyester itself is an insulator which means the pillow gets really hot really fast.
Memory Foam – Memory foam is a long-lasting wonder material. It offers the best support out of any pillow filling while remaining very soft (yet slightly firm). However, they can’t really be used by stomach sleepers as they can get hot. They can also initially have a little bit of a smell at first, but this goes away after a while.
Top Overall Pick For Best Pillow In 2017
Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Shredded Hypoallergenic Certipur Memory Foam Pillow
You might be wondering how on earth we can recommend a single overall best pillow when different people with different sleeping positions need different things…
Well, that’s one of the best bits about this pillow from Coop home goods – it’s adjustable. It comes as a thick pillow when you take it out the box. But it has specifically been designed for you to be able to remove some of the crushed memory foam filling to make it the perfect size.
The rayon covering is derived from bamboo which ensures that it’s breathable and cool throughout the night. It’s also soft, supportive, machine washable, hypoallergenic, and most importantly – affordable.
8 Pillows We Recommend Getting Today
To end this article, we are going to share with you 8 other great pillows we came across in our research that we feel are more than worthy of your consideration.
Sleep Whale – Premium Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
This is a great shredded memory foam pillow that is lined with soft bamboo to keep you cool throughout the night. It’s super supportive and super comfortable.
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow Combination
Another great pillow that relies on the combination of bamboo and crushed memory foam to provide a supportive yet comfortable and cool nights sleep.
Cr Sleep Ventilated Memory Foam Bed Pillow with AirCell Technology
The first solid memory foam pillow on our list doesn’t have a bamboo lining for breathability. Instead, it has airflow passages and gel to remain cool. It’s a firmer, more supportive option compared to the two above.
My Pillow Classic Series
This is one of the most advanced polyester pillows on the planet. It has triple locking properties that allow it to retain its shape (similar to memory foam) and lasts much longer than traditional polyester.
Cr Sleep Memory Foam Contour Pillow
This contour pillow from Cr Sleep is perfect for anyone who suffers from chronic back or neck pain. It’s a medium thickness, medium firmness pillow that has a patented design that reduces pressure while sleeping.
Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow
The only total body pillow to make it on our list is one of the best in the world. Its unique curved shape provides head, back, and leg support throughout the night. It’s reasonably firm but soft enough to be comforting for pregnant women.
The Pancake Pillow
We almost picked the pancake pillow as our overall recommendation due to its customization capabilities. It comes with 6 individual inner pillows that can be added or removed until you find the perfect height for your needs.
Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow
The final recommendation on this list is one of the most luxurious gel filled pillows we have ever had the pleasure of resting our heads on. It provides excellent comfort and superior cooling that is suitable for both back and side sleepers.
So there you have it, all you could ever want to know about the world of pillows. We hope that by now you should have a little bit more of an idea about the kind of pillow you should be looking for.
If you’re still unsure where to start we recommend you check out any of the products we have listed above, they are all winners that are worthy of your consideration.