You’ve finally found the right bed. It’s just the right firmness, the right temperature, the right size, and the right price. But there’s one thing you may have forgotten to consider: your pillow.
Quick Look at Our Top 10 Picks
What About Your Pillows?
If you’re happy with the pillows you have, you probably won’t think twice about them. But if you’re experiencing neck strain or just still not quite comfortable, your pillows may need a second look. Neck and back alignment are critical for a good night’s sleep, and your mattress isn’t the only factor. Going through the trouble of researching mattresses and neglecting your pillows may leave you to think you’ve bought the wrong mattress, but you may just need to find a better pillow. Consider upgrading them to complete your restful night’s sleep.
Types Of Pillows
Before spending money on the wrong pillows, investigate the types that are available. Just like your bed, pillows are made from a number of different materials, and each one has unique properties that may or may not be right for you.
- Down Pillows—made with the “down” feathers of ducks, geese and other waterfowl, they’re comfortable for those who like to “sink” into their pillows. Air circulation may decrease as they flatten, causing heat retention. They must be dry-cleaned, not washed.
- Down Alternative Pillows—for those who are allergic to natural down pillows, these less-expensive models are washable and as comfortable, but may not last as long as the down.
- Foam Pillows—the filling could be any combination of latex foam, memory foam or polyurethane, in any number of forms—noodle, molded, shredded, or a combination.
- Shredded Foam Pillows—polyurethane foam is chopped into small pieces (think sugar cubes) and stuffed into pillow sacks. Because of its shape, it tends to sleep a little cooler, and is very adjustable.
- Molded foam—exactly as the name implies, it’s one molded piece and can’t be adjusted. It usually has a contoured shape, and is great for people who have neck or back pain.
- “Noodled foam”—similar to shredded foam, this is a foam that is turned into long noodles. This gives a pillow that’s adjustable and great for stomach and side sleepers.
Kinds Of Pillows
- Memory Foam Pillows—these can be made with memory foam alone, or a combination of the above three. It offers cushioning, but possibly too much cushion, and may tend to sleep hot as a result. They may also have a strong chemical smell. It’s commonly used for pillows designed to support certain areas, such as back or neck, between the knees or under the stomach.
- Latex Foam Pillows—like mattresses, they’re made from natural or synthetic latex, and can be more expensive as well as “bouncy.” But they last longer, feel cooler and don’t have the same smell as a memory foam pillow.
- Polyurethane Foam Pillows—a less-expensive alternative to latex, poly foam pillows are cooler than memory foam but not quite as cool as natural latex. The filling could be shredded or molded foam, and the density is based on how much foam is actually used in it. It may also have a “smell.”
- Cotton Pillows—cool and natural, everything is cotton, including the filling. They’re not as expensive as some of the other types, but may flatten and not last as long.
- Polyester Pillows—inexpensive and available at nearly every store that sells pillows, they’re similar in feel to cotton. But they also tend to flatten easily and not last as long.
- Buckwheat Pillows—made from the shells of buckwheat, these pillows are noisy and don’t respond to movement well. They’re also not washable; to refresh, just leave them out in the sun a couple of times a year. But they are breathable, supportive, hypoallergenic and don’t retain heat, so fans of buckwheat love them.
Now, What Size?
Pillows come in four basic sizes to accommodate each bed:
- Toddler Pillow, 14″ x 20″
- Standard Pillow, 20” x 26”
- Queen Pillow, 20” x 30”
- King Pillow, 20” x 36”
These are general sizes, and not all manufacturers use them, but the pillow size is usually printed on the package. Some vendors only offer standard and king, while others will have a full range of sizes. (This is also true of pillowcases.) If you order online, check before you click the “order” button.
Best Pillows For Stomach Sleepers
Sleeping like this calls for a pillow that’s soft enough to give you proper neck support without pushing your head up and your neck and back out of alignment. Lower lofted pillows offer that kind of support that lets you sleep comfortably on your stomach without interfering with back and neck alignment (although heavier sleepers may need a medium loft for comfort.) Some pillows allow you to remove or add loft to get just the right amount for you.
Best Pillows For Back Sleepers
Like stomach sleepers, good alignment is essential to a comfortable sleep. Low-loft pillows are also good for smaller sleepers, with heavier or average-sized sleepers needing medium lofts. Here are two that can help you do that.
Best Pillows For Side Sleepers
Adjustable lofts are best if you prefer to sleep on one side or the other (or turn back and forth.) You can either remove some of the loft, or move it around as needed.
Best Cooling Pillows
In a class by itself, cooling pillows can work with a cooling mattress to help with temperature regulation. A lot of body heat is generated at the head, and if your pillow doesn’t dissipate that heat, you may find yourself constantly turning the pillow to find a “cool spot.” Cooling pillows will solve that problem by providing breathability and heat dissipation, just like a cooling mattress does.
Find Your Best Pillow
Even with a mattress that’s just “pretty good,” your bed’s pillows can make or break a good night’s sleep. Whether you need a cooling pillow, a higher-loft one to sleep on your side or a contoured model to support your neck, there is a pillow for every sleeping need. Don’t give up on your mattress until you’ve tried new pillows that are suitable for your sleeping style. We hope this guide will help you find the one that’s best for you.