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When it comes to a good night’s sleep, picking the right pillow can sometimes be as important as picking the right mattress. Pillows come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, which can make it difficult to decide which one is best for you. When shopping for a pillow, it’s important to consider attributes such as loft, firmness, and fill material to decide if the pillow will be a good fit for you.
Loft describes a pillow’s height or thickness. In general, the amount of loft you need is dependent on sleeping position. Stomach sleepers require less loft to maintain proper alignment between neck and spine, while back and side sleepers require more loft. Keep in mind that loft is not the same as firmness.
While loft describes a pillow’s thickness, firmness describes how much a pillow sinks when your head rests on it. Soft pillows allow the head to sink deep, while firm pillows have much less give.
Pillows are available in various categories, depending on the material used for fill. When picking pillow types, it’s important to consider factors such as pressure relief, support, and temperature control.
Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows conform closely to the head and neck, providing excellent cushion and support. Many memory foam models have gel infusions to promote air circulation. Some also have bamboo lyocell covers for the same purpose.
Latex Pillows: Latex pillows are durable and conform closely to the head and neck, offering good pressure relief.
Down: Down pillows cater to people who enjoy plush surfaces. They are softer than memory foam.
Down Alternative: Down alternative pillows are a nice alternative for those who are allergic to down pillows. These pillows are also budget-friendly.
Feather: Feather pillows are plush but offer more support and structure than down pillows.
Polyester: Polyester pillows are lightweight and machine-washable. They are also inexpensive compared to many other pillow types.
Specialty Pillows: Pillows are available in many other materials that cater to different preferences and needs, including buckwheat, bamboo, water, and gel.
A pillow with proper loft and firmness can go a long way toward easing pain or discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back. The wrong pillow can lead to poor alignment and increased pain and discomfort.
People who experience neck and shoulder pain may prefer pillows with good contouring and cradling support to the head and neck.
If you suffer from back pain, you may benefit from pillows that help keep the neck and spine properly aligned. Pillows that provide pressure relief in the neck and shoulder areas are also helpful.
Pillows can help alleviate chronic snoring. Since snoring is a result of restricted airflow, look for pillows with higher loft, since they will help keep the head upright.
It’s important to consider sleeping position when shopping for a pillow, since the position you sleep in affects how your head and shoulders rest on the pillow.
Side sleepers have a significant gap between their head and the mattress. Adjustable-loft pillows, or pillows with medium to high loft, can help fill this gap to prevent awkward neck positions.
Back sleepers need pillows that can prop and support the head comfortably. This usually translates to a medium-loft pillow with at least a medium firmness.
Stomach sleepers require softer, low-loft pillows that keep the head aligned with the neck.
Pillows can be placed in different areas of the body to help with body pain or personal comfort levels.
Knee Pillows: Knee pillows are made with dense memory foam and can help improve spinal alignment for side sleepers. Back sleepers can also place them under the legs for additional support.
Wedge Pillows: Wedge pillows are typically made of foam and triangular in shape, offering elevated head support for people who suffer from acid reflux, snoring, or other health conditions.
Body Pillows: Body pillows can help alleviate back pain and improve spinal alignment for pregnant women. They are also popular with people who enjoy snuggling pillows.
Travel Pillows: Travel pillows are lightweight and compact, making them excellent for naps on the go.