Buying a new pillow is always a challenge when you are already facing trouble sleeping. You work all day and you deserve comfortable bedding that can keep you fit.
But why is a good pillow necessary for a healthy life?
“The perfect pillow will keep your head and neck in balance, encouraging a peaceful sleeping routine with proper body alignment.” says Kristina at Pillow Insider. A good pillow removes the daily body fatigue and keeps you in the right shape.
Although pillows are the most ignored part of the bedding, often less cleaned or changed, it is also scientifically proven that bad pillows cannot just cause body aches, but really bad allergies.
So, what factors should you consider before getting the right pillow?
Here are five things that are top of the checklist:
1. Filling Material
There are many pillow stuffings in the market with different price tags. From affordable to most luxurious ones, the right material is all about easy maintenance, providing support to your body, and durability.
Do not buy anything on the recommendation of a peer or friend, read about and explore every pillow stuffing. Below are some types of pillows that are popular on the market, from natural to synthetic, suiting different sleeping styles.
- Memory Foam
Memory foam has shape-shifting qualities that adjust itself with the movement of your head. This is also called Viscoelastic Polyethylene foam and has the properties of contouring with heat and pressure. Needless to say, it makes an ideal material to keep your head aligned with the spine.
Memory foam pillows can be made of shredded bits or a single piece, and some memory foam pillows now have cooling gels to control any heat retention. Memory foams can also help with neck aches because they cradle your head perfectly. Micro-fiber and shredded varieties are some of the best ones if you are looking for the top quality to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
On the flip side, if you are big on protecting the environment, memory foam may not be your ideal choice because these are non-biodegradable. Plus these are hard to wash and have to be spot cleaned or dry cleaned to remove any dirt.
Polyester is a very common and easy to maintain material that will provide plenty of support to your head and neck. These are easy to wash in a washing machine and relatively dry more easily compared to other materials. They are plush, very cozy to use to support your body alignment. If you are also looking for a cheaper material in pillows, polyester is for you.
On the downside, polyester fibers are also vulnerable to dust mites and give you bad allergies. They are very prone to clumping and have to be changed every 1-2 years. This material flattens out quite easily under the pressure of your head, so it isn’t very durable.
- Feather and Down
Feather and down pillows are quite popular. Feather stuffings are made from the back and wings of a bird. To make them extra plushier, these are mixed with Down.
Down stuffings are taken from the down of a goose, duck, or swan. Pure down pillows are quite expensive and considered to be a luxury. But they are very soft, unlike polyester do not flatten out, and are more long-lasting. Both Down and Feathers are lightweight and fluffy materials that provide maximum comfort to your head during the night.
On the contrary, if you want to avoid animal cruelty, down pillows made without responsible down certification or Bluesign should not be bought. If you are susceptible to allergies, this might not be the ideal choice either. Down and feathers can be easily ruined by moisture, causing bacteria and fungal growth inside.
To maintain them, they must be taken to professional dry cleaners. Feather pillows, in addition, may also poke you in the head if you use a thin pillow cover.
2. Sleeping Position
Sleeping position dictates the need of your body when buying a pillow. Someone who sleeps on their stomach may have a different need than the one who constantly suffers from head and neck aches. Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach, there is a pillow out there for you in the market. Here are our recommendations for each sleeper.
- The Back Sleeper
If you are a back sleeper, your head and neck do not need a lot of support. In fact, this sleeping position is considered to be safest since it improves the blood flow, keeps your spine aligned and your face free of wrinkles. But on the contrary, it can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea.
So, what is your best fit?
A low to medium density pillow that contours your head perfectly may be ideal as it won’t push your head too far from the mattress.
- The Stomach Sleeper
Sleeping on the stomach, we have all loved it at some point in our lives. It may look quite comfortable but it fiddles with your spinal curvature.
While stomach sleeping is lying flat but it puts a strain on your neck and head. So, a low to medium density pillow that supports your back and neck is extremely important to keep you safe from any neck aches in the morning.
- The Side Sleeper
The side sleeper is the most common sleeping position among adults. When done right, it helps to reduce joint and lower back pain. However, when sleeping on your side, your head is further away from the mattress and needs maximum support to keep it aligned with your spine. So, a medium-density pillow that fills the gap between your head and mattress will be your ideal choice.
A pillow’s firmness will determine how comfortably you will sleep during the night. For different types of sleepers, there are very firm, firm, medium-soft to very soft pillows. Pillows made from down, feather, and polyester are the softest and are ideally suited to back and stomach sleepers.
The medium density pillows have slightly less fluff, but these are suited to almost all types of sleepers. The firmer pillows, which are usually made of high-density materials are suited for the side sleepers. The very firm pillows, that are made of high-density memory foam or latex are ideal for the side sleepers who suffer from neck pain.
4. Pillow Size
Pillow sizes are mostly complementary to the size of the bed and mattress.
Why is it important? Because we all have different sleeping needs and only the most comfortable height will help to keep your body aligned. Here is a chart of some of the commonly used pillows that you can choose from. Make a choice depending on your bed size and your sleeping position.
5. Problems Related to sleeping
You spend about 8-9 hours every day on your pillow, breathing directly into it. Your skin is in constant contact with the material and if you are already suffering some health issues, a bad pillow might only intensify it.
The direst issue with pillows is that you can not directly detect what is it about them that is harming you. You must see a health professional before choosing a pillow. We have also listed down some common issues that sleepers can have with pillows.
Being allergic to anything really limits our choice. When choosing a pillow, you must not ignore your allergies because the pillow stuffing prone to dust mites, and fungus can make them worse. Down and feather pillows or polyester that is non-hypoallergenic must not be bought.
Memory Foam pillows can be a good choice in that matter but since they cannot be machine washed, you must keep changing the pillow covers or get them dry cleaned.
People with snoring problems or sleep apnea can face challenges with choosing the correct pillow. A pillow very low in height can make your snoring worse since it blocks the airway passage, causing that buzzing sound.
A wedge pillow has been quite popular with snorers and sleeps apnea patients since it does not cause airway compression and keeps your body perfectly aligned.