There are not a whole lot of products we use more than a pillow. Yet it is also one of the products that we give the least amount of thought to when purchasing.
I mean seriously, unless you sleep pillow-less, you will spend a third of your life with your head resting on your pillow. It doesn’t make sense to settle on a mediocre pillow.
Don’t worry, I’m guilty of it too. My previous pillow cost the same price as three cups of coffee. Having figured that my old lumpy pillow was partially responsible for my poor night of sleep, I I recycled it into a dog bed and set about finding a new one. This time I decided to do it right and buy the correct pillow for me.
Spoiler: After having bought and thoroughly tested my new pillow I can safely say that the improvement in my sleep was astounding. I did not know such comfort was missing from my life. My new pillow is perfect for me. And best of all, it was very affordable.
And the good news is that you can experience the difference the right pillow makes too. I have put together a handy buying guide so that even someone who is clueless about pillows can make the right choice.
So let’s take you through the steps to finding the right pillow for you.
Take your position…
Think about how you sleep at night. When you lay in bed, what position do you find most comfortable that allows you to fall asleep at night.
Do you sleep on your back like a starfish? Or do you lay in your side in the fetal position? You might even alternate between positions throughout the night.
So the first step is to narrow down the types of pillows to one that is suitable for your sleeping position.
Firm to medium-firm pillows are your best option. A firmer pillow will prevent your head from sinking into your pillow. Ensuring the pillow is the correct height will prevent the pillow from angling your neck upwards.
Medium-firm pillows will support your neck without it sinking too far into the pillow, complimenting the natural curve of your spine. Choosing the right height will ensure your neck does not jut forwards.
Soft and fluffy. Because your spine aligns with your neck closer to the mattress, the pillow should have plenty of give so that your head can sink to a level where your neck aligns perfectly with your spine. A pillow that is too firm will increase pressure on your neck and spine. If you are choosing a pillow based off height, you won’t need much. 2-3 inches will do it.
Please note that the above are loose guidelines and do not take into account different pillow materials like memory foam and latex, which are cut to a specific height adjustable pillows and adjustable pillows like those that are water based or filled with buckwheat. Because bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, it is up to you to choose a height appropriate pillow.
Remember: The right pillow for you should keep your neck aligned with your spine in whatever position you sleep in.
How do you want your pillow to “feel”
How you want your pillow to feel will help you to narrow down the fill you choose.
- Soft as a cloud – Natural fill such as down or feather or synthetic equivalent.
- Soft with a bit of resistance – Latex, cotton, wool, polyester
- Dense and supportive – Foam, memory foam
- Solid – Buckwheat
- Adjustable – Waterbase or any pillow that allows you to easily remove it’s filling
It is important to note that the amount of the material can also have an impact as to how your pillow feels. While feathers feel soft, if you fill the pillow to point where it is bursting with them then the feel of the pillow will be almost hard.
And these are just a few of the different types of pillows you can choose from. Take a moment to consider the pros and cons of each pillow and it’s material, while they might look similar on the surface, they each provide a very different sleeping experience.
Consider your allergies
Don’t have allergies? Skip this step!
Look, you can have the comfiest pillow on earth, but if the pillow triggers your allergies then it just isn’t right for you. As any allergy sufferer reading along will be able to tell you – it is nearly impossible to fall asleep once your allergies have been triggered.
If you allergies keep you sniffling and wheezing through the night then look for pillows labeled ‘hypoallergenic’. Check out our guide to hypoallergenic pillows for more information.
How to clean and maintain your pillow
It may be disgusting to think about but over time your new pillow is going to get covered in all sorts of disgusting nasties. From dust and hair to skin flakes and drool, your pillow is going to cop a lot of abuse.
The reason you want to consider this now is because one day you are going to have to clean your pillow. And some pillows are a downright chore to clean. If your life is already busy enough then you are going to want to avoid any pillow that has cleaning instructions as follows:
Gently hand wash in water between 65-67 degrees with oil-free, fat-free, fragrance-free soap. Soak for 3 hours stirring every 5 minutes. Dry by blowing on it with your mouth only.
Now obviously this is an over exaggeration, but the cleaning instructions on some pillows can be quite time consuming, especially when they won’t let you machine wash or dry them.
And when you consider that you want your pillow cleaned and dry the same day so you can use it at night, the appeal of an easy to clean pillow becomes even more apparent.
Sleeping pillows commonly come in the following sizes:
- Standard – 20 x 26
- Queen – 20 x 30
- King – 20 x 36
An often overlooked part of buying a pillow is the size of your bed.
- Twin/Twin XL Bed – One Standard Pillow
- Double/full Bed – Two Standard Pillows
- Queen Bed – Two Queen-size Pillows/ Two Standard Pillows
- King Bed – Two King-size Pillows/Three Queen-size Pillows/ Three Standard Pillows
If your bed can support it, a larger pillow will give you more room to get comfortable. Plus, small pillows on a large bed just look odd.
Ignore the cost
I have good news for those of you who searching for a new pillow but are on a budget:
Just because a pillow is more expensive does not automatically make it a better pillow
Comfort and support are the two biggest factors to consider when shopping for a new pillow.
Perhaps the best part about pillows is that there is no guilt in buying a cheap but effective model. Pillows don’t have badges and spend most of their time covered in a pillowcase. No one will ever know whether you are rocking a Kia Rio of the pillow world or a Mercedes.
Pillows are a good thing to buy when a sale strikes. Buy a spare and keep it around until you need to replace your current pillow. After all, you will always sleep on a pillow. By keeping an eye out for bedding sales you may be able to snap the perfect pillow at a bargain price.
Try it out
A pillow isn’t one of those things that you simply look at. You have to try it out. Unfortunately, there are very few shops that let you test out pillows before you buy them. And rightly so, I wouldn’t want to smoosh my face into a “test pillow” that had another 100 faces try it out that day.
That said, there is a way that you can somewhat guarantee that a pillow will suit your sleeping position.
When in the store, grab your chosen pillow, in it’s plastic packaging and stand next to a wall. Pretend the wall is a mattress and stand in your natural sleeping position. Have a friend tell you whether your neck is tilting one way or another. If your neck does not rest inline with your spine, try another pillow.
By following these steps you will be able to pick a the right pillow for you. Got any pillow buying tips? Share them in the comments below!
Got any pillow buying advice you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!