How to pick a pillow for a better night's rest

December 16, 2014

Having the right mattress isn't the only factor in helping you get a great night's sleep. Your pillows also play a big role in providing the comfort and support you need to sleep deeply and wake feeling rested. If you find you're waking up with neck discomfort or your current pillows feel flat and lifeless, it's time to invest in new bed pillows.

How to pick a pillow for a better night's rest

When should you replace your bed pillows?

Pillows should be replaced approximately every two years. Replace pillows that have become discoloured or stained, flat or lumpy. If you find you frequently wake up feeling congested, you may be reacting to dust mites living in your pillow.

Types of pillows

Thick, thin, fluffy or dense, different pillows provide different levels of support to help keep you comfortable.

Natural fill pillows: These are filled with either down or feathers, which trap air, allowing the pillow to contour to the shape of your head for comfort and support. Feather pillows are firmer, while down pillows are softer. Natural fill pillows offer breathable comfort.

Synthetic fill pillows: This alternative to down is great for anyone suffering from allergies but still seeking the soft, fluffy feeling of down. They are hypoallergenic and most are machine-washable.

Memory foam pillows: Memory foam pillows are dense and relieve pressure by contouring to your head and neck. They tend to retain heat and can take a few minutes to spring back into shape, which can be bothersome if you tend to change position often while you sleep.

Gel pillows: These pillows are infused with gel beads for denser support and better air flow, so they don't retain heat.

Latex pillows: Latex pillows combine softness with support and tend to last longer than other types of pillows.

Pillow support

When it comes to choosing between a soft, medium or firm pillow, consider your typical sleep position to help decide what type to buy.

  • Soft pillows: If you sleep on your stomach, softer pillows are a good choice as they provide gentle support for your head and neck.
  • Medium pillows: Pillows with medium support are great if you sleep on your back, as they provide natural and comfortable support for the neck.
  • Firm pillows: A great side sleeper pillow, firm pillows help keep your neck, head and shoulders aligned.

Typical pillow sizes

Pillows are available in standard, queen, king and body sizes. You don't have to match your pillow size with the size of your bed – go for what makes you comfortable.

It's a good idea to refresh your pillows once a week by tumble drying them for approximately 15 minutes. If you suffer from allergies, look for hypoallergenic pillows and avoid feather and down pillows. When it comes time to replace your old pillows, consider your sleeping position to help you determine the level of support and type of pillow that suits you best.

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