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How to buy a better pillow

Updated on June 29, 2013

Help I have a kink in my neck every morning! Or: How to choose the correct pillow for your best sleep ever!

When I was a kid, I use to go to camp every summer, and sure enough at the end of every summer I would come home and my favourite ripped jeans would be gone, my room would be rearranged (and cleaned!), with some favourite item or other missing. One summer I came home, my favourite feather pillow was gone, and a stiff new foam thing put in it's place!! Ack!

Ok, so I know it was a long time ago, and I really should be over it, but I still miss that pillow, (or maybe it was just the innocent sleep of childhood - who's to say?).

I have had several pillows since then, a few good, one great and the other ones, well, they were the 'in-betweeners'.

I was recently on a pillow search once again, as I started getting 'the signs', which for me is being woken up with a sore neck and a face poked with the ends of broken feathers.

(Photo which I like to call: 'Somebody stole my pillow.' Courtesy of my mom D. Good.)

The choices, the choices!

Not just foam or feathers any more!

Gone are the days when I use to plan my dream bedroom, you know, the one where you have 10 fluffy pillows on top of your bed, just because it's so dang romantic? As if you will just either fall back on them to be ravaged by Sean Connery, or just lay in ultimate billowy comfort and read your favourite book. Well, that just isn't reality and the one thing I have found is that no matter how many pillows I had on my bed I could never find just the right one for my neck and head. (Well, and honestly neither of those things happened anyway. Sean, is already spoken for, and I prefer to sit and read lest I get a huge kink in my neck!).

Wow, ok so I needed a new pillow, but I had no idea what was happening out there in pillow land! I thought the choice was basically foam or feathers!? Oooh noooo, not so obi wan!

You've got all types of choices now! You've got your foam, memory foam, regular foam, specially shaped foam, you've got feathers, down, wool, husk, cotton, gel, water and mixtures of all of the above!! Not to mention your allergy specials and something called Iso-cool, which stays cool!!

I had no idea where to even begin, but I did have three starting points of experience:

1) The old feather pillow I loved when I was a kid....

2) I loved my massage therapist purchase way back in the 80s(double core foam with the raised edges for neck placement), but it is long gone...

3) My pillow now, which is a king sized feather pillow. It has lasted years, but now I have to cram it into a smaller pillow case just to give it some volume! I have to sadly admit, there's really not much left to it, it's basically a bag of feather ends.

So my first thought is to go to feathers again, at least you can shape it and it's all natural - but is it the best for my head and neck?

It's going to be hard to beat my old favourites!

Adorable Perfect Plumped Feather/Goose Down Pillow, King
Adorable Perfect Plumped Feather/Goose Down Pillow, King

I am sure that I have had many of these over the years, but that one I had as a kid was sooo great!

 
Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

I had a pillow like this that I got from my massage therapist years ago, it lasted a good long while, and it was to date, the best pillow I have ever had.

 
Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow - Queen Size (20 inches x 30 inches)
Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow - Queen Size (20 inches x 30 inches)

I had one of these for years too, I used it on and off, mostly in unison with my other pillow for reading etc. PS - it smelled really good!

 

Take this quiz and get your ZZZ score! - See which pillow may be best for you!

I scored a 7.2: high for length of sleep, but lower for quality. Could be my tossing and turning trying to keep punching my broken down pillow into shape!

Some great tips on how to choose your new pillow!

I learned here that I keep my pillows far too long!

The pillow lady!

Some great tips in here around washing and how long pillows last. (Don't forget the money here is in Australian dollars!)

A few of the pillows I was looking at

Iso-Cool Side Sleeper Polyester Pillow with Outlast Cover
Iso-Cool Side Sleeper Polyester Pillow with Outlast Cover

I like this one, because it stays cool and supports my neck as a 'side sleeper'. They come in memory foam too.

 

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.

Carrie Snow

The search

OK, so I took the quiz and my ZZZ score was 7.2. Pretty good, above average but my sleep is of a lower quality. So a new pillow is a must, as well as maybe not watching movies right before bed!

And after reading and watching some videos I got curious about a few of the new pillows out there, particularly the one that stays cool and a few of the foam type hybrids which have neck support and are soft as well.

From what I gather there are a few things to check for, and a few ways to check.

1) You want a pillow that keeps your head level. So if you are a back sleeper, you don't want your chin way up in the air from your head being too low, and you don't want it touching your chest because your pillow is too high. Same if you are a side sleeper, which I am; you don't want your head tipped in either direction to make strain on your neck, rather you want it just perfectly horizontal, without having to punch your pillow into a ball!

2) You want to go with a pillow made out of something that will hold it's shape a long while, and is allergy free if that's what you need.

3) Cost is always a factor and as is usual in most cases, the fancier the pillow the higher the cost. It was difficult looking through videos for information, because most of them seemed to be selling something, so I took certain information, and disregarded the sales pitch of costly pillows. I gathered lots of information and will make my purchase based on what I found, and what's best for my situation.

As with all my purchases, I pretty much know what I want and how much I want to spend before I start my search.

Is there a correct way to sleep to avoid pain? - Yes!

But you need to think about correct posture all the time, in everything you do. One pillow won't solve your problem! Look deeper if you need to - I know I did.

New PJs always help

I know I don't NEED more flannel PJs, but I always get a new pair every year.

Yoga for a better sleep

I am a HUGE proponent of yoga for so many reasons, but a big one is sleep!

*Note please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime - it may not seem like it, but yoga is a lot of exercise even at the beginner level!

The purchase - How to test and what I bought

So I learned how you are suppose to check for the right pillow height. If you are a back sleeper, you stand against the wall with the pillow behind your head. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead and your head and neck vertical, with no pushing back or tipping forward.

For a side sleeper (me), do similar, stand sideways beside the wall with your pillow beside your head. As mentioned above, you want to be looking straight ahead, with no tipping or pushing of your head in any direction.

Any pushing or tipping of your head means the pillow is too large or too small. You can try this laying down in the store too, if there is a place to lie down! otherwise the wall test should work.

I also learned that we need new pillows once every year or two, and now that I am aware what broken down pillows feel and look like, I'll hopefully be able to tell well before it is the neck pain that informs me that it's time!

At the end of the day this is what I came home with, on sale and washable too! #Score

Happy pain free sleeping? Check. Problem solved.

Pacific Coast Double Down Around Pillow - Queen
Pacific Coast Double Down Around Pillow - Queen

I bought the 'medium' good for all sleepers (and flippers!).

 
Once Upon a Time: Bedtime Stories for Adults
Once Upon a Time: Bedtime Stories for Adults

And well, we need some storytelling too!

 
Bedtime Stories
Bedtime Stories

And for a laugh with Adam Sandler...

 
Sean Connery: 007 Collection, Vol. 1
Sean Connery: 007 Collection, Vol. 1

And well - speaks for itself.

 

New Pillow Update!

Just a quickie update - On day two I awoke with NO neck pain! I feel like a new person! Chris is still unsure, but we have a 30 day money back on these, I think he'll get use to it though; I am over the moon!

Something I wanted to add that he suggested, is that your pillow cover can make a huge difference too! We have flannel in the winter, and cotton in the summer. The first night he noticed how warm his pillow was, but the temperature went up really quickly in the past few days and I realized I still have flannel on the bed! So a change to cotton will help, and if it's still too warm, he said his mom always used a silk pillow case! Apparently your pillow will always feel cool!

So - an interesting tidbit for you!

(Click on the picture for a great little tutorial on making your own pillowcases!)

Find us everywhere!

You can follow us here and check out our new posts weekly, or come on over to our website and see what we're up to! You can also find us on all the cool social media sites - we'd love to say hi!

We're always talking about music, internet stuff, peace, film, cooking and of course, Rat Terriers.

http://www.About.me/jennashton

See you out there!

I'd love to hear from you!

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    • profile image

      gemstone-jewelry 4 years ago

      Great! Really pillow play a very big role in sound sleep and refreshing morning.

    • gmrwebteam lm profile image

      gmrwebteam lm 4 years ago

      Hi

      Very nice and informative lens. We always buy a pillow which is attractive and beautiful in looks. Sometimes due to this, we buy wrong pillows. We do not give much importance to them but if we choose wrong pillow then it can cause neck pain which is a common problem now a days. People should be aware of these things.

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Highly informative lens .Most of us suffer neck pains because of choosing the wrong pillows . Thanks for sharing

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Highly informative lens .Most of us suffer neck pains because of choosing the wrong pillows . Thanks for sharing

    • mcstacy profile image

      mcstacy 4 years ago

      I need new pillows. Will take your advice and enjoy your lens.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      Good tips. I've always bought my pillows without much knowledge. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't. Your lens helps.

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 4 years ago

      Love my pillow because it WORKS.

    • calconcrete profile image

      calconcrete 4 years ago

      My sleep problems have not come from the type of pillows that I have used but from the fact that they have deflated over time. I tend to put my arm under the used pillow to prop up my head. The result has been that I get painful rotator cuff problems in my shoulder.

      Over time I've learned that whatever the pillow I need to replace it whenever it starts getting flat.

    • profile image

      philipcaddick 4 years ago

      I totally agree, I even take my pillow with me when I am going on a trip or a holiday. The pillow is essential to sleep.

    • profile image

      rene01 4 years ago

      Ok so for prior to reading this lense, I was totally convienced that I was the only person in the world who woke up with an kink in their neck. At first I was thinking maybe it was just me aging in addition to my horrible mattress that shouldve been replaced a few years back. It never crossed my mine that it could be possibly my pillow. I will definitly have to go on a quest for the perfect pillow.

      Thanks,

      Rene01

    • profile image

      aditisharma22 4 years ago

      well this information was rally worth... :)

    • scoobydooo9r profile image

      scoobydooo9r 4 years ago

      I have tried millions of new pillows, usually only to be dissatisfied! Thanks for the great lens to hopefully point me in the right direction now!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I love my feather pillow. It's many years old and know I need to replace it but have it encased in two zippered pillow covers plus my pillow case. Some day I'll be looking too!

    • pshinde2109 lm profile image

      pshinde2109 lm 4 years ago

      great lense....very helpful!!!

    • rebecca-mathews1 profile image

      rebecca-mathews1 4 years ago

      great lens :) i will use your advice when picking my next new pillows

    • bobnolley lm profile image

      bobnolley lm 4 years ago

      Great suggestions...I wish I had read this before I bought the ones I did! Congrats on LOTD! Well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      As far as I am concerned a latex pillow (and mattress) are superior to any other kind of pillow.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Great suggestions! I have those Pacific Coast pillows and they are SO worth the money. Best pillows ever.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      This is all very interesting stuff, most of us are sleep deprived. I know I only get 6.5 hours per night and need 8, but my score at 6.7 was well above most people my age! Great Lens thanks for this information and the test!

    • AdultAcneSystem profile image

      AdultAcneSystem 4 years ago

      Thank you for the time and energy you invested in getting all these different pieces of information together in one single useful place.

      I do appreciate it.

    • inagreement1 lm profile image

      inagreement1 lm 4 years ago

      A good pillow sometimes can be your coat.

    • profile image

      AmyCat 4 years ago

      Aargh! What was it with parents who thought it was perfectly okay to "clean" a kid's room when they were away from home? ...Removing comfy old clothes, toys which they thought we should have "outgrown" (my huge stuffed lion, big enough to be a body-pillow for a kid... gone. *snif*), or whatever else they thought was "junk" (the chain I'd made of aluminum-can pull-tabs -- remember before cans had the safer pop-tops? -- which was at least 20' long and draped all around my room on curtain-rods and molding-hooks)... In what universe is this okay to do to a kid old enough to go to "sleep-away" camp instead of day-care?

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      Thank you everybody! Wow, and I thought I was the only stiff necked person out there! I'm going to add an update today, Chris thought of some more good information for you as well -

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 4 years ago

      Good info. I quite often wake up with a stiff neck. I really liked the video you had on how to sleep at night. Congrats on LotD

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Congrats! Well covered topic that reminds me that my pillows are aging, but at their price (and give the fact that they don't fold over yet) i'm not ready for it. I do have them in secure covers, under the pillowcases. What a lot of helpful information.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I have great deal of difficulty with my neck and choosing a pillow...the best pillow I ever used was in our room on a River Cruise in Europe. I take note on the information here.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Thank you so much for the info. I'm still on the hunt for the "perfect pillow" sigh.

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

      Congratulations on LOTD. Never knew what the best pillow was to buy. Did know I needed to keep my spine straight, if I don't I feel it in the morning.

    • profile image

      greytdogz 4 years ago

      I recently bought a new pillow and although I didn't know about most to the information you gave, I think I chose right. Thank you for a great lens.

    • profile image

      mjasir6 4 years ago

      I love this lens so much I have never seen a wonderful lens like this

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very useful information on pillows. I will probably end up buying that Iso Cool Side Sleeper, it can only help. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • HalloweenRecipes profile image

      HalloweenRecipes 4 years ago

      I took the quiz and I'm a 6.3. I need more sleep! Very interesting lens, congrats on LoTD.

    • profile image

      mihaelamiky 4 years ago

      sweet dreams zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      Great lens and even better timing, I'm going pillow shopping this week. I have my notes and thank you for the information. Congrats on LoTD, you deserve it!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      I love my feather pillow. Congratulations on LotD!

    • orcamom lm profile image

      orcamom lm 4 years ago

      Interesting lens thanks - need top replace our pillows so the tips are very helpful.

    • profile image

      thanhhai 4 years ago

      Thanks everyone! I feel like I finally found all the info I needed to make a good choice

    • SBPI Inc profile image

      SBPI Inc 4 years ago

      Very nice indeed. Good information and I have discovered that a a good pillow can also help your back.Thank you and congratulations on LOTD

    • SavioC profile image

      SavioC 4 years ago

      6-8 hours sound sleep is one of the most important part of our 24 hour cycle because our body goes in healing mode at that time. Congrats! There are also some aromatherapy oils that can be put on the pillow which gives sound sleep you can add them as well later on .

    • profile image

      faye durham 4 years ago

      Very nice and informative article. Finding the perfect pillow is no easy task. Thanks for the tips.

    • profile image

      beautygift 4 years ago

      so useful, thanks

    • marktplaatsshop profile image

      marktplaatsshop 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LotD, you did a great job, thanks for sharing

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @Rosetta Slone: It took me a while to realize it, and I was really surprised at how often you should update your pillows! I usually keep mine for, well the last one going on 7 years - yikes! No wonder my neck was sore! Good luck on your pillow search!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I'm so glad I saw this as I was wondering why my neck was always sore in the morning. Must be my pillow, and now I know how to replace it!

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      Thank you SO much everybody!! What an honour!!! Wow! I will have sweet dreams tonight for sure!;-)

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Important, valuable info. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD. That's fantastic!

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      I still like my feather pillow but they are getting harder and harder to find.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      I love feather pillows, myself, but it gets really hot here so I would like to check out one of the ones that stays cool. Thanks for the info and super congrats on LOTD!

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @Greathaul2013: Agreed!! ;-) haha

    • Greathaul2013 profile image

      Greathaul2013 4 years ago

      I love this lens. A good pillow is crucial to a good night sleep, and a good night sleep is crucial to health, and good health is crucial to life. So, it could be argued that a good pillow is the key to a good life!

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @getmoreinfo: After we got ours I kept waking up in the night and thinking, wow, my head is really level! I still have a bit of sore neck, but I think we're just adjusting, (and if they just don't work out, there is a 30 day money back on these ones) - good luck with yours!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      I agree that getting the right kind of pillow is important to avoid getting a stiff neck, Because I have had to switch pillows at home.

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Oh good for you! Yes I knew I would need to research the last ones I bought (I thought fluffy and feathery meant better!) did not work at all, and Chris is a 'flipper' sleeper - but I think I nailed it this time too;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We recently had to buy new pillows and were terribly confused by all the choices. I can't believe it, but I think I somehow bought the right one for me. The choices actually worked out well for us because Bob and I have very different needs and preferences when it come to pillows.

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks everyone! I feel like I finally found all the info I needed to make a good choice, no more neck kinks for me ;-)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      I use two pillows....a soft one for my head and a more solid one to lean into. Nice lens here with a lot of information. Good work!

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Enjoyed your article. It answered many of my questions and then some as I am in the market for a new pillow.

    • JennAshton profile image
      Author

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @lisln: Thank you very much, I'm trying hard to make them fit the guidelines, so your comments are very helpful!;-)

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      very nice lens a lot of information nice pictures and soft music to make your sleep that much nicer. I can tell that you put a lot of work into this lens. Keep up the good work.