How to choose the right pillow


pillowMemory foam, duck down, contoured, firm, soft… selecting a pillow is more complicated than it used to be, but opting for one that is perfect for you can be the key to a good night’s sleep.

Jason Nicholas, managing director at leading pillow and mattress maker Tempur Australia and New Zealand, says that if you wake up feeling tired or not feeling rested, that could be a sign you have a problem with the position you are sleeping in, the surface you are sleeping on, or your pillows.

There are a number of different factors to consider when pillow purchasing; here are some tips on how to choose the right pillow so you will be counting sheep in your dreams in no time!

Choosing the pillow fill

The substance your pillow is made from can alter the general feeling of it against your body and can also influence how firm it is.

Polyester or synthetic fibre-filled pillows have a tendency to be cheaper so they are good if you are on a budget, and are often machine washable. They are also usually hypoallergenic so if you have dust mite, mould or feather allergies this may be a good option for you.

Feather and down fills are great if you would prefer your pillow to feel soft, fluffy and cloud-like, but they can be pricey. Down is the layer of fine feathers on a bird found under the tougher exterior feathers; the higher the percentage of down, the softer your pillow will be. Pillows with higher feather percentages will not be quite as soft and may have quills that poke you through the pillow.

Memory foam and Tempur pillows – whether they are firm or soft, these pillows will provide you with more support as they will take shape based on the contours of your body and reduce pressure points as you move throughout the night.

Wool and cotton pillows are resistant to dust mites and mould so they are a great hypoallergenic solution for those who prefer a firmer pillow.

Firm vs. soft pillows

Whether you sleep on your back, front or side is one of the determining factors when picking how firm your pillow should be.

  • If you’re a side sleeper, a firmer pillow will help fill the gap between the bed and your ear, supporting your shoulders, neck and head.
  • If you sleep on your back, a thinner medium support pillow can provide your upper spine with added comfort.
  • If you have a tendency to sleep on your front, a thinner soft pillow will prevent your head from being turned unnaturally to either side.

The effect of changing pillows

Just be aware that if you change from a firm pillow when you are used to a soft one or vice versa, you may end up with a bit of a stiff neck or even headaches! Our editor, Ange, road tested a firmer Tempur pillow and found that although it felt luxurious to sleep on, it took about a week for her neck to feel normal during the daytime, after having used a soft duck down pillow for years.

Zoran Zuvela from Tempur says that choosing a firm or soft mattress or pillow will give you a personalised feeling of comfort and support but there could potentially be a breaking-in period until your body and new bedding adjust to one another. ‘It may not be instant, but it may take time for it to conform to the shape of your body,’ says Zoran.

Added extras for your pillow

There are now a range of extra features that can also affect your pillow selection. As we mentioned before, if you have allergies, there are hypoallergenic pillows that help prevent dust mites and mould forming. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, you can get pillow fills infused with soothing lavender so the scent will help you drift off to bed. If you snore, you can get anti-snoring pillows to help keep your airway open during the night.

The key thing to remember is that choosing a pillow comes down to personal preference. Take the time to figure out your sleeping style and pick a pillow that will help you get the best night’s sleep possible.

Image /FreeDigitalPhotos.net – marin

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