When I wrote an article on pregnancy pillows, I received a lot of requests for a Pillow Guide to general pillows, thus here is your definitive directory of how to choose the right pillow for you that will take you to dreamland.
How to pick the right pillow
Often ignored, the two most important things for a refreshing sleep is pillow and mattress. We spend a lot of time and money in choosing that fancy iDealBed 4i custom adjustable bed or that expensive Tempur-pedic mattress, but pay very little attention to the pillow. Just like the mattress, the pillow also plays a very crucial role in the quality of our sleep and our overall wellbeing. So come, let’s do some pillow talk!
Can the pillow make a difference?
Having a comfortable sleep is key to a happy and successful day. Nothing kick starts the day better than a peaceful slumber. Sleeping in the correct posture with the help of the right mattress and pillow is essential to wake up without body pain or discomfort. The correct posture should bring into line the body from the head, neck, shoulders through the spine maintaining the curve in your lower back to the knees.
A bad pillow can worsen headaches, give you nightmares and lead to stiffness and numbness while a good pillow, that supports your shoulders, neck and head, will give you a good night’s sleep.
How to make the right choice?
The right pillow is a personal preference but before you make that choice, you should identify your sleeping style or position.
This is the most common position generally people sleep in. Interestingly, sleeping in this style produces a major distance between your shoulder and ear and hence a thick or firm pillow is recommended as it provides the much desirable care to your neck and head.
2. Back Sleeper
In this sleeping position, the pillow should be soft enough to support the natural curve of your spine and hard enough to sustain your head at four to six inches off the bed. The wrong pillow will give you a stiff neck in the morning or backache to crib about all day. Moreover, regular sleep discomfort can lead to consistent spine and neck issues which can take the form of Cervical or Spondelytis. In that case, you may have to see a medical professional similar to Dr Timothy Steel, with expertise in neurology. So, to avoid all such mayhem in your life, ensure you have a good sleeping posture.
3. Tummy Sleeper
This sleeping style requires the least amount of support but adds some additional stress to the back and neck. A thin or flat pillow would be ideal for this neutral position. Some people who sleep on their tummies do not even use pillows.
Different types of pillows based on the pillow filling
Once you have identified your sleeping style, the next step is to look out what the pillow is made up of. The wrong type of pillow filling can lead to sleep deprivation and I’m sure you don’t want that. If you are the one who does not care about the pillow filling, don’t worry you are not alone. Most people are not aware nonetheless, there is a wide variety of pillow fills available in the marketplace.
Down pillows are made of either goose or duck fibers. They are extremely soft and light. Given the raw material used, down pillows are expensive and come in a combination of down, feathers and other synthetic materials. However, one has to be careful regarding sensitivities and allergies to down. Allergic reactions may occur in some people when the down filling is of low quality and dirty leading to discomfort.
Cotton pillows are universal pillows easily available in all stores. They are naturally hypoallergenic and do not attract mold or dust mites easily. They can be purchased in a firm or a soft form whichever suits you right.
Memory Foam pillows
This filling material is fast gaining popularity in the last few years. Memory foam pillows adapt to your individual contour by retaining your body heat and mass. These pillows that hold their shape align themselves with the shape of your head, neck and shoulders. These pillows are a good choice but since they retain heat, one has to make a smart decision.
Wool pillows are made of wool and are very firm so most ideal for side sleepers. They, like are cotton pillows, are resistant to dust mites and mold while also being hypoallergenic. Wool pillows regulate the body temperature by absorbing moisture from your head and neck.
Latex pillows like memory foam take the shape of your crown while being steady and comfortable. They give extra support to the head and control movement during your lovely sleep.
Different sizes of pillows
Besides the fill, you should also take into consideration the size of the pillow. Too large or too small pillows affect the relaxation they are required to provide. A standard-size pillow should be just correct such that it aligns the head and neck along with the shoulder and spine.
There are some specialty pillows that can be considered.
Cool pillows are made with tiny cool beads that whisk away the night sweat and hot flashes one feels. The part where your face touches the material is always cool.
These are recommended by doctors. They provide additional cushioning and stability to the neck area.
This type of pillow is preferred by physical therapists who believe that these pillows use water to make a personalized level of support and thickness.
These come in a range of shapes and sizes and are used by women during pregnancy. I have gone in to great detail on maternity pillows elsewhere. (link below)
Related article: Types and Benefits of Pregnancy Pillows
Snuggle into a soft and comfortable pillow or a firm and relaxing one, the choice is up to you! When you invest in the most accurate pillow, you will notice a drastic improvement in the quality of your sleep. Now head straight to the store and take your time selecting that masterpiece for your head.