Getting a good night of rest can make a world of difference the next day. One of the most significant factors regarding getting a good night of sleep is the type of pillow you are sleeping on. If you regularly wake up feeling groggy, achy, and stiff, it may be time to look for a new pillow. Today, there are a wide variety of pillows to choose from, each with specific qualities designed to help people with specific sleeping preferences. Different materials, levels of support, size, and shape all play into the effectiveness of a pillow, but how do you know what type is right for you? Here we will discuss what factors to consider when you are choosing a pillow, and how to test it to see if it’s right for you. 

What Makes a Pillow Right For You? 

Because everyone sleeps differently, there is no one size fits all pillow. Every individual has unique preferences and sleeping positions, and these preferences are what determine which pillow will be best for you. The purpose of the pillow is to provide head and neck support to keep your neck in alignment with your spine through the night. Sleeping on a pillow with either too much or too little support will put tension on your spine overnight, resulting in neck and back pain, stiffness, and a lighter night of sleep. Over time, this imbalance can influence your posture. That being said, there are several factors to consider when selecting a pillow, including sleeping position, size, shape, and material that can help you sleep through the night.

Best Pillow Based On Sleeping Position

When picking out a pillow, you should consider your preferred sleeping position. Whether you are a back sleeper, side sleeper, or tummy sleeper, your sleeping position will affect how much support your head will need. You can account for the amount of support you’ll need by adjusting your pillow height, firmness, and size. Here are a few tips that can help you find the right pillow based on your sleeping position. 

  • Back sleeper– It is important to find a pillow shape that will support the curve of your neck. Cervical pillows are a great option for back sleepers, as they are thicker towards the upper and lower thirds, and dip in the middle to support the back of your head. For back sleepers, pillows of medium firmness are recommended so the head can stay aligned with the spine.
  • Side sleeper– Most people are side sleepers. For side sleepers, it is important to find a tall pillow with lots of support. Sleeping on your side elevates the head further than most pillows can support, so make sure you find something that is tall enough, probably around 4-6 inches in thickness. Body pillows may also be a good idea for side sleepers, as they provide support for the hips and pelvis. Selecting pillows of medium to high firmness can also benefit side sleepers. Buckwheat hulls, latex, and memory foam tend to provide firm support while down pillows are softer and offer less support. 
  • Stomach sleeper- stomach sleeping can put tension on the spine, shoulders, and upper back. Most experts advise those with back pain against sleeping on their stomachs. But if you are most comfortable sleeping on your front, a pillow that is high in softness and low in height can work. Down pillows tend to be less firm and compress to a good height for stomach sleeping. If you sleep half on your stomach and half on your side, body pillows can provide the support you need without compromising your preferred sleeping position. 

Elements to Consider

The design of the pillow is just as important to consider. The shape, material, and size can all contribute to making or breaking the perfect night of rest. The goal is to find a pillow that offers the right amount to support, regulates temperature well, and above all, keeps you comfortable. 

  • Pillow Shape– most pillows are rectangular and come in a few different sizes depending on the mattress. Cervical pillows, the best pillows for neck pain, have rounded edges that are contoured to fit snugly against different parts of the body. Body pillows are much longer and can provide support from your head down past your hips. 
  • Pillow size– pillows have two main dimensions; size and loft. The size of the pillow correlates to the amount of space it covers on the bed, while the loft refers to the height. When you are picking out a pillow for yourself be sure to consider the loft of the pillow. This is the element that will be providing your neck and head with the support it needs to stay aligned with the spine.
  • Pillow stuffing- the material that your pillow is made out of can greatly affect your sleep. Different materials can influence how well the body regulates temperature during sleep. People with allergies or sensitivities to specific materials should be especially mindful when picking out a pillow. Here are a few materials that are commonly used in pillows, and what makes them unique; 
  • Buckwheat– buckwheat fill is made of dried seeds. This fill makes for a very firm pillow that can shape itself around the head and is good for maintaining a cool body temperature.
  • Latex– latex pillows can come as one solid piece, or be constructed of many smaller pieces. Latex pillows are heavier, firmer, and resilient, quickly returning to their original shape after being pressed. 
  • Memory foam– just like latex pillows, memory foam pillows can be one solid piece of foam, or many smaller pieces put together. These pillows are designed to cradle the head and provide support, but they are denser and less breathable than other materials.
  • Down– Have you ever wondered what type of pillows hotels use? Down, which comes from the undercoat of a duck or goose, is the most popular filling in hotels. This extremely soft material flattens quickly and needs regular fluffing to maintain shape. These pillows offer a low loft for sleepers that do not need a lot of support.
  • Polyester– the most common pillow stuffing, polyester provides adequate support and is the most cost-efficient. 

Find Better Sleep at the Jacksonville Sleep Center

Getting a good night of rest can be hard, but having the right pillow can provide the support you need. At Jacksonville Sleep Center, we can help you find the best pillow for you, and help you discover what is preventing you from getting the sleep you need. To learn more, visit our website, or give us a call to schedule an appointment today!