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How To Choose A Pillow

How To Choose A Pillow

Read our guide to learn how to choose the best pillow for you based on your body type, sleeper type, and overall budget.

Using the right pillow can make a serious impact on more than just the quality of your sleep. It can affect your posture, the alignment of your spine and your overall health. When it comes to choosing the right one, there’s far more involved than picking between soft or firm. Here’s what you should know before buying your next pillow.

Finding The Perfect Pillow For You

Pillows are about as personal as a pair of shoes, and there’s usually no one-size-fits-all option unless it has an adjustable fill option (we’ll get into that later).

The perfect pillow largely depends on your sleeping position, body type, and personal comfort preferences. Sorting through the many options on the market can be daunting, but many online options like Nectar come with trial periods or warranties so you can find the best fit. You also have helpful review sites like ourselves, who strive to deliver honest, and authentic content about bedding products.

How To Pick A Pillow For Side Sleepers

If you are a side sleeper, it is important to have a pillow that keeps your spine in alignment by properly supporting your neck. When laying on your side, you should be able to draw a straight line from your nose to your belly button. Pillows on the taller side are ideal for side sleepers because they support the head and prevent your shoulder from bearing all of your weight.

  • Side sleepers under 230 lbs: A lofty pillow with at least a medium-firm profile is recommended. Anything firmer might be too tall and cause you to strain your neck. Look for lofts within the 4-5” range.
  • Side sleepers over 230 lbs: If you are over 230 pounds and sleep on your side, a  taller, firmer pillow will ensure that your head is supported enough. Look for lofts within the 5-6+” range.
Purple Plush Pillow Loft
The Purple Pillow is great for Side Sleepers

For a few of our suggestions on the best pillows for side sleepers, check out our best list. A highly recommended pillow for side sleepers is the Purple Pillow you can see above.

How To Pick A Pillow For Back Sleepers

Back sleepers should look for pillows using the C-curve rule. When sleeping on your back, your neck should form a slight “C” so that your gaze is more toward the ceiling than the wall in front of you when laying down.

  • Back sleepers under 230 lbs: Look for a medium-loft pillow with a medium firmness so that your neck is supported but not overextended.
  • Back sleepers over 230 lbs: A medium-loft pillow with a medium firm profile is also ideal for people over 230 pounds for the right amount of head support.

How To Pick A Pillow For Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers are advised to try out pillows with varying lofts and firmness levels to find what is best for them. Finding a pillow that doesn’t cause neck kinks and doesn’t lift the head too high is key.

  • Stomach sleepers under 230 lbs: Opt for a pillow with a low loft and soft firmness. This will ensure that your head is not raised too high, but you’re still receiving proper support.
  • Stomach sleepers over 230 lbs: A pillow with soft to medium firmness and a low loft is recommended so that your head does not hang too low and cause tension on your neck.

For a head start on great stomach sleeping pillows, read our Best Pillow For Stomach Sleepers list.

Other Considerations For Pillows

Along with loft and firmness, there are other factors that should be weighed when choosing a pillow. Here are other things to consider:

Material Types

Memory Foam – Pillows made out of memory foam mold to the curvature of your body and provide resistance that many down pillows don’t, which is why some sleepers don’t choose them.

Some memory foam pillows, like the Layla pillow, are also designed with heat dispersing technology to keep you cool while you sleep, and retain less heat than traditional memory foam.

Latex Foam – Latex foam pillows are a popular choice because of their hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties. This is a good option for people who are prone to household allergens like dust mites and pet dander, or those who like a firm, responsive pillow like the Brooklyn Bedding Pillow.

Polyurethane Foam – Few pillows are truly neutral in firmness, but polyurethane foam pillows are suitable for all sleep positions. These types of pillows are responsive without having the viscous feel of memory foam pillows. Though, they still have the pressure relieving quality that memory foam pillows have.

Casper Down Pillow Review Cover
A look at Casper’s Innovative Down Pillow

Down or Down Alternatives – For those of you who love a traditional fluffy feel and are looking for a down or down alternative pillow, we suggest looking at the Casper Pillow — or another option with a new-age down design. Down pillows are infamous for falling flat, but some brands have taken it upon themselves to give their down pillows more structure and support.

Budget

High-quality pillows often come with a higher price tag. When purchasing a new pillow, expect to spend $40-$50 on the budget end, to $200 or more for a more premium pillow. We suggest you figure out your budget before exploring your options, so you can narrow down your options a bit more.

Cooling Pillows

If you tend to run warm when you sleep, consider getting a cooling pillow. Cooling technology in the form of specialty foam, gel, and cool-to-the-touch fabrics can help keep you from overheating during the night. Pillows like GhostPillow actually feel cold when you touch the cover, and can make a big difference in a hot sleeper’s quality of rest.

Adjustable Fill

Some pillows like the Leesa Hybrid Pillow are designed with removable inserts or stuffing so that you can adjust the firmness level, and customize your pillow loft when you want.

Closing Thoughts

Identifying the best pillow for yourself requires time and research, but it’s worth it to have the best sleep possible. The pillow you sleep on can be the difference between feeling well-rested or waking up groggy and uncomfortable.

FAQs

What kind of pillow do I need?

Finding the right pillow comes down to determining your preferred sleeping position and comfort preferences. Look for a pillow that properly supports your neck and head but feels comfortable and natural.

How often should I wash my pillows?

It is recommended that you wash your pillows several times a year to keep them clean and fresh.

How much should I spend on my pillow?

That depends on your personal budget, and how much disposable income you have to spend on a pillow. For those of you on a tighter budget, you can find a quality pillow for around $40-$50 or so. If you want a luxury pillow, you can find yourself paying over $200.