Mattresses might be the big-ticket item when it comes to bedding, but pillows play an equally crucial role in supporting your body to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Selecting the wrong pillow can be a pain in the neck – literally. So how do you go about finding the right headrest for your sleep style and body type?
Pillows are not a one-size-fits-all item; everybody sleeps in a unique way, which means there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ pillow out there, just the best one for you. Additionally, your nighttime needs can evolve over the years as your body changes with age, fluctuations in weight, and injuries.
If you’re feeling a little deflated about your current pillow situation and it’s time to upgrade your bed with some new supporting players, here are three important factors to keep in mind when look for the perfect pillow.
Ideally, pillows should complement your body’s natural shape while also providing support for your back, shoulders and neck. Most importantly, consider the position of your neck. You don’t want your head to tip forward or back too much; a pillow that’s doing its job properly should help keep your neck in a neutral position so that it’s aligned with your spine while you sleep.
Of course, there are different levels of thickness and support needed depending on your sleep position. Here are some general rules on what to look for:
- Side sleepers: thick, firm pillow.
- Back sleepers: medium-firm, flat pillow.
- Stomach sleepers: thin, soft pillow – or nothing at all.
Somewhere in between? If you toss and turn throughout the night, opt for a medium-soft option that should work well for your various sleeping positions.
And if you’re working with some specific aches and pains, consider investing in a contoured body pillow or bolsters that offer support and pain relief for pressure points across the body. For example, elevating your legs can help alleviate pressure on your lower back while ergonomic pregnancy pillows can help mothers-to-be manage some of the discomfort of their growing bumps.
There are so many different fibre options when it comes to filling your pillow – down, latex, memory foam, buckwheat, polyester – so how do you know which one is right for you?
Lightweight Pillow Fills
- Down & Feather Hybrids: these fluffy pillows are stuffed with goose or duck down and are sometimes combined with other fibres for a hybrid effect. While plush and soft down pillows tend to be more expensive, they will give you that ‘sleeping on a cloud’ type feeling.
- Microgel or Polyester Fibre: pillows filled with a synthetic alternative are generally more affordable and work better for people with allergies, though they will need replacing more frequently as they tend to flatten over time.
Heavier Pillow Fills
- Cotton & Latex– cotton and latex both provide a flat, firm option that is great for sensitive sleepers as they are naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and mold.
- Memory Foam – this dense foam contours to your body and distributes weight evenly across its surface. However, some people find the foam retains too much heat (making it less breathable), which can leave you feeling a little warm in the wee hours.
Once you decide on your ideal fill type, try to invest in the best-quality version for your budget, your body will thank you.
Hardworking pillows deserve a little TLC and will last longer if you wash them two to four times a year. While many can be washed at home, some are dry-clean only. Be sure to check the label when purchasing so you know just how high-maintenance your pillow choice is.
Covers can help increase the lifespan of a pillows but, as a general rule, pillows should be replaced every 18 months to three years depending on the quality and fibre type. If that seems short, consider the many hours of work your pillows are putting in (eight hours a night on average equals almost 3,000 hours over the course of the year). Not to mention the many external elements that find their way in over time, such as dead skin cells, dust mites and mold…yikes!
So, if your pillows are starting to smell, look stained, and are sagging and no longer holding their shape, chances are it’s time for an upgrade.
Once you have your perfect pillows, you’ll want pillowcases worthy of them, and you’ll find them here.
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