The pillow buying guide
Last updated: November 2023
How to choose the best pillow for you
Pillows are a very personal choice, and choosing the best pillow for you can be tricky. Your comfort is vital when sleeping, and pillows can have a huge effect. When choosing a pillow you need to think about your sleeping position, personal needs and preferred fillings. We'll go through which types of pillows are best for these different needs below.
The best pillow type for your sleeping position
Your sleeping position affects what type of pillow is best for you. This is because the way you sleep affects the best way to keep your spine aligned. Incorrect alignment can cause you to wake with a bad neck, so it's important to get the correct pillow for your sleeping position.
Pillows for side sleepers
The best type of pillow for side sleepers is either a memory foam pillow or an orthopaedic pillow. This is because those who sleep on their side can damage their spine’s natural alignment if their head is positioned either too high or too low. Orthopaedic and memory foam pillows are designed to cushion vulnerable pressure points on the head and ensure the neck remains in the optimum position. To achieve this correct height, we would also recommend opting for a firm or medium‐firm pillow.
Pillows for front sleepers
For those who sleep on their front, the best types of pillows are ones that lie on the softer side of the scale, including feather pillows and pillows with a comfort grade from soft to soft-medium. Unlike side sleepers, it’s recommended front sleepers stick to pillows without much height, as raising your head too high risks arching the spine backwards, causing discomfort.
Pillows for back sleepers
If you sleep on your back, the best type of pillow recommended for you is one with a medium comfort grade, this will help provide adequate support to your head without pushing it too far forwards. Hollowfibre and wool pillows are popular options for back sleepers as they provide a bouncy surface that isn’t too soft.
The best type of pillow for your needs
While it’s important to choose a pillow based on your sleeping position, it’s also advisable to consider your specific conditions. For example, if you suffer from neck pain, asthma or even overheating during the night, there are specially designed pillows that can help combat any kind of sleep hindrance you have.
The best pillows for neck pain
If you suffer from back or neck pain, it’s important you choose the right support pillows to help improve your condition. Memory foam pillows are a popular option for those with neck pain as they will cushion your head while ensuring your neck isn’t arched uncomfortably.
The best pillows for over heaters
Rising temperatures are a common disturbance for most people and can leave you tossing, turning or flipping to the cool side of the pillow. Cooling pillows are the best choice if you’re prone to overheating, as they can help combat this by absorbing heat and ensuring the sleeper can get a restful night.
Other pillows for neck pain
Another pillow option if you suffer from neck or back pain, are Posturepedic pillows. These pillows are recommended for neck pain sufferers as they are specially designed to combat neck pain and relieve any pressure as they are made from hollow fibre and so tend to be springy and plump.
The best pillows for asthma
Similar to those who suffer from sensitive skin, the best pillows for asthma sufferers are ones that deter dust mites or any other irritant that could affect the respiratory system. For this reason, anti-allergy pillows are best for those with asthma as they are specially designed to protect against bacteria and dust, as well as offering breathability and comfort.
The best pillows for sensitive skin
If sensitive skin is keeping you up at night, it’s important to avoid any pillows that could trigger a breakout or itching. Certain synthetic materials can lead to a build‐up of dust mites which irritate the skin. To avoid this, opt for specially designed anti‐allergy pillows which are filled with special microfibres that ensure an irritation‐free sleep.
The best pillows for pregnancy
Being pregnant can often result in tossing and turning in the night trying to find a comfortable sleeping position, it can also mean you’re overheating more than you used to. Pregnancy pillows are designed to offer comfort to the full body to support your legs, back and bump. However, these can often take up a lot of room in bed. A helpful alternative is a comfortable pillow that can help regulate temperature. Specially designed cooling pillows can ensure you drift off easily without overheating.
Choosing your pillow fillings
Pillow fillings are mainly split into two categories, synthetic or natural. Natural pillow fillings are good for avoiding an irritation, while synthetic materials include innovative technology that is designed for maximum comfort. The main types of pillow fillings are:
Memory foam pillows contain a specially designed visco‐elastic material that moulds to the contours of the body, offering support. This makes them great for those that suffer from neck pain and side-sleepers.
Feathers and down
Pillows with a feather or down filling are super soft and allow you to luxuriously sink your head. Best for front sleepers that don't need much support, feathers can also help to regulate temperature naturally.
How often should you replace pillows?
To get the most out of your pillows, it’s advised to replace them at least every 2 years. This is because over time there will be a build‐up of dust mites and the pillow is most likely to have lost a lot of its elasticity, meaning it won’t provide adequate support.
Regardless of how long you’ve had your pillow, it may also be time to replace it if you find yourself waking up with a sore neck often, or if your pillow is showing signs of discolouration. Any discolouration or stains on your pillow is due to moisture and sweat getting through the surface and should be replaced to ensure optimum hygiene.
To guarantee your pillow lives a long happy life, a pillow protector is recommended. This provides a barrier to protect against any substances, staining or excessive dust getting through.
How many pillows should you sleep with?
The number of pillows to sleep with is largely down to personal preference. However, experts advise only sleeping with one pillow to maintain the spine’s natural alignment and avoid positioning the head too high. If you prefer sleeping with two pillows, it may be best to opt for softer pillows to avoid adding too much height beneath your head.
How to dispose of pillows and duvets
At the end of your pillow’s lifespan, it’s important to not just throw it away. Any bedding thrown into the general waste can often end up in landfill, which is bad for the environment. Instead, there are a few ways to dispose of your bedding that is environmentally friendly, including: Take your bedding to recycling banks; check if your local council will collect them for recycling; and donate them to charity shops
How to break in new pillows
If you’ve recently purchased a new pillow, you may find it feels stiffer than you expected. This is often the case for memory foam pillows and is just due to the fibres not having softened yet. These pillows can be broken in by simply lying on them. After a few days, your pillow will have softened from the heat and be as comfortable as possible.
How to wash pillows
Finally, an important consideration with pillow care is whether you can wash the pillow itself. This is dependent on the materials your pillow contains. For example, cotton or feather pillows can go in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, whereas it’s not advised to wash memory foam pillows. If in doubt, check the label on your specific pillow for more instructions.
Regardless of whether you can wash your pillow, it’s always recommended to keep your pillowcases fresh. It advised you to wash your pillowcases at least every two weeks. If you have pillow protectors, these should be washed at least once a month.
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