A proper night’s rest is one of the best things on earth, hands down. Noise, stress, snoring partners and pets disturb us, but proper bedding can set us up for success. Much importance is placed on mattresses, but shopping for the right pillow is equally important—if not more so.
Wandering the aisles of home decor shops into pillow land is daunting, right? Firm, soft, feathers, hypoallergenic, synthetic… there are literally hundreds of options. There truly is no one pillow for everyone, but in general, you’re looking for something that will keep your neck and head in line. Joseph Ojile, M.D., the managing director and founder of the Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis, MO says you should look for a pillow that “keeps your head in a neutral position—and that’s going to differ depending on your sleep position.” Here are 7 things to consider when looking for a new pillow
- Expensive isn’t always better
I once paid $125 dollars for a pillow and it wound up disturbing my sleep because it had a toxic rubber scent. It was one of those memory foam type pillows that a chiropractor sold me. I shopped around and found a nice, all-natural alternative for $45, and I slept like a baby. Just because the price tag screams “high end” doesn’t mean that this pillow is the one. Take your time, and research plenty of options and price points.
- Do you sleep on your back?
Back sleepers need a fluffy pillow that keeps the head and chin lifted, which helps reduce snoring and improve breathing. It’s also a good idea to stick a pillow under your knees to reduce the weight placed on the lower back. With a pillow (or two) placed under the knees, your lumbar spine levels out, causing less stress in that area. If you suffer from breathing problems, talk to your doctor, as back sleeping may not be best for you.
- Do you sleep on your side?
According to Dr. Oz, this may be the best sleeping position—he calls it “The Sleeping Beauty”. If you sleep on your side with your back curved, arms folded and knees bent, you’re complimenting the natural curve of your spine. Upgrade by separating the knees with a firm pillow that keeps the spine neutral. Sleeping on your side with the knees apart also prevents back pain and promotes restful sleep. If you have high blood pressure, sleep on your left side. Meanwhile, Oz also suggests that people with kidney stones favor the opposite side from their stones.
- What’s in the pillow?
Consider the pillow’s country of origin and its filling. Some countries aren’t required to disclose the exact ingredients, so look for pillows with labels that clearly display the materials used to make them. Water pillows allow you to fill a chamber nestled in the cushion and adjust as needed. They’re gaining popularity and are great for anyone suffering from neck pain. Natural goose down feather pillows are also comfortable, but may aggravate allergies. Some foam pillows may feel great but come with toxic odors which may cause headaches. Most hypo-allergenic pillows are machine washable, so take that into consideration as well. It’s important to keep all bedding clean, fresh and safe for your health.
- The possibility of a body pillow
I lived with someone who kept a body pillow, and it interfered with feelings of closeness—it became a literal wall between us. However, although I’d advise not using a body pillow as a divider, these pillows are very useful for side sleepers. They help protect the head and neck up top and support the knees and legs all in one big pillow. Not fussing with three or four pillows to get comfy at bedtime is the way to go. Some pregnant women also use body pillows for supporting the abdomen.
- Size matters
We’re not all one shape and size, so why would our pillows be uniform? Worry less about matching pillows for decorative purposes and instead opt for pillows that provide maximum comfort and support. If you share a bed with someone, you should each select pillows that work best for you. If you’re bothered by how they look, hide them under throw pillows by day. Never sacrifice comfort for aesthetics.
- There are earthy options out there
Finally, some pillow manufacturers use millet or buckwheat for filler, and Asian countries have used grain filled pillows for centuries in a quest to alleviate neck and back issues. Grain pillows adjust to the shape of your head as your weight presses into the contents. Some people complain that these pillows are noisy, as the fillings move around and make scratchy sounds. If the sounds don’t bother you, however, then a grain pillow may be the right option.
Always test out a pillow in store before buying and ask for help when shopping for a good fit
Author: Slumberless Team
Slumberless is a small group of people that are passionate about finding ways to have a more restful sleep every night