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How to Choose The Best Pillow For You

Updated on July 21, 2015
The average human spends a third of his or her life on a pillow. It is important that you are sleeping restfully and comfortably with the pillow you are sleeping on.
The average human spends a third of his or her life on a pillow. It is important that you are sleeping restfully and comfortably with the pillow you are sleeping on. | Source

It is a tedious task to choose a pillow - it is inevitable to start scratching your head in confusion once you enter the store. There are endless varieties in every direction: flat, thick, fluffy, hard, soft, bouncy...and they're all made out of different materials. How on earth do you know which one you are better off with?

This article will go through the health benefits of snoozing on a healthy pillow and how to choose the right pillow for you.

Why should I choose a healthy pillow?

Out of all the things to worry about - diet, exercise, mental health, social life, etc - why should I get concerned over my pillow? It sounds like a very silly question at first but the consequences of dozing on a bad pillow may be rather undesirable. Here are a few reasons why you should switch to a healthy pillow:

  • Comfortable, restful sleep

Have you ever woken up because your neck is aching from the position you have been sleeping in? Have you ever had a bad day at work because you were twitching and turning for the whole of last night? If your answer was "yes" to either of those questions, you already know how irritating it is to sleep on a distressing pillow. Sleeping on a bad pillow will make you feel terribly lethargic the next morning. Lack of rest may lead to depression, obesity, inabilities to learn, headaches, memory problems and more.

  • No poisonous chemicals

Some pillows are treated with chemicals which may affect both your sleep and your overall health. Though you may not notice this right away, bad chemicals can slowly poison you. It may be too late when you discover this error. Therefore, we try to prevent, not cure. Healthy pillows are chemical-free. Exposures to some chemicals may lead to allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. Scientists have also linked chemicals used to produce flame retardant foam with neurological damage, endocrine disruption and even cancer!

  • Supports your head and neck

Some pillows may be comfortable but don't actually do very well in terms of support. It is vital that you sleep on a supportive pillow because it can save you from aches and cramps. Bad pillows can also cause temporary, painful neck aches or back pain. If you are constantly using a bad pillow, more serious conditions may follow. Scientists have discovered a strong correlation between health and sleeping position. Therefore, healthy pillows encourage good sleeping positions which ultimately lead to good health and restful sleep.

Pillows can not only impact the quality of our sleep, but also how healthfully we rest and recharge.

— Michael Breus
Filling material is a good factor to consider. Best fillings should be organic to ensure that you are not breathing in any bad chemicals.
Filling material is a good factor to consider. Best fillings should be organic to ensure that you are not breathing in any bad chemicals. | Source

How to choose a healthy pillow?

Hopefully, you are now convinced that a third of your life should be spent on a comfortable, chemical-free and supportive pillow. Now it is time to select and purchase the best pillow for you.

Pillow Type and Filling

Pillows come in many different colors, shapes and sizes; all of which range in hardness, thickness, material and price. All of these pillows also match different people's sleeping styles (side, front, back). Below is a table that shows which pillow type you should purchase according to your sleeping style.

Which pillow suits your sleeping position?

Front sleeper
Side Sleeper
Back Sleeper
Down Alternative
Feather
Polyester
Micro bead
Latex
Buckwheat
Cotton
Water
Memory Foam

What type of sleeper are you?

See results

To ensure that you are purchasing the best type and filling, always try out a pillow type and see if your head and neck agrees with the texture, firmness and thickness. Some sleepers do not do well with the type they're supposed to like. It is possible that you like one of the front sleeper pillows, even if you're a back sleeper. This is because pillows have many other qualities to consider. Here is a table that shows the pillow types' strengths and weaknesses:

 
Buckwheat
Feather
Latex
Polyester
Memory Foam
Cleaning Ease
Okay
Okay
Okay
Good
Okay
Durable
Good
Good
Very good
Okay
Okay
Affordable
Poor
Great
Poor
Great
Satisfactory
Supportive
Great
Satisfactory
Good
Satisfactory
Great
No Odor
Okay
Poor
Okay
Great
Poor
Fewer Allergies
Good
Okay
Very good
Okay
Good
Memory foam is a type of pillow growing in popularity. It is great for people with jaw or neck aches because the material allows the pillow to mold around your body, cradling your neck in a really supporting position.
Memory foam is a type of pillow growing in popularity. It is great for people with jaw or neck aches because the material allows the pillow to mold around your body, cradling your neck in a really supporting position. | Source

Organic Pillow Filling

Sleeping on a pillow which is infested with poisonous chemicals is almost like sleeping with someone smoking next to you! Both the material and filling should be free of chemicals. Therefore, it is important that you choose pillows that are made out of natural materials.

Although there are no definitely ways of knowing which one is treated with chemicals, it is fairly straightforward to recognize the possibility by carefully reading the box.

If the box mentions anything from toluene, diisocyanate, formaldehyde, PBDEs to petroleum derivatives, it is likely that the pillow contains chemicals that are not good for your health. If the box claims it is "organic", "all-natural" or "free of chemicals", it is organic. All pillows that are made out of flame retardant foam are full of chemicals which can cause brain diseases. Once you have eliminated all of the chemically treated pillows, you are now sure that you are not silently exposed to potentially toxic chemicals.

The jist of choosing a pillow

1. Find out what your sleeping style is. You can try lying down on a bed and see which position you are happiest with: back, front or side.
2. Refer to the table above. Now, focus on the pillows which match your sleeping style. However, be open about the others too because you may like them too.
3. Eliminate pillows with chemicals.
4. Test a few that you are most interested in, and choose the one you feel best with.

Most comfortable pillow choices are down pillows and feather pillows. However, some of the "comfort pillows" do not support your body.
Most comfortable pillow choices are down pillows and feather pillows. However, some of the "comfort pillows" do not support your body.

Does it "feel right"?

Even if a pillow is organic, natural and suitable for your sleeping style, you still have to be able to actually sleep on it. If it's too flat, too thick or too firm for your liking, you'll spend the night turning around and twitching in frustration, rather than getting the benefits. Before any purchases, always test the pillow by laying with it on a bed. If you think you can lay there for a long time, you are probably comfortable with it. However, don't expect to be perfectly happy the first second.

Like shoes and clothes, you will need to spend some time adjusting to its curves and edges. It might feel complete foreign the first night, but most people will adjust before they even realize. Try a variety of pillows at the store, and the best ones are the ones that just feel right. Be aware that you will have an easier time adjusting to a pillow similar in shape to your old one, rather than a completely new looking pillow.

Smells can also affect the level of comfort. Polyester are usually the best with smells, usually odorless or enhanced with a nice smell. Memory foams and feathers, on the other hand, are filling materials that usually soak up any smell it was exposed to. This may stop you from having a good night rest. If you are in love with the pillow but not the smell, you may want to consider purchasing a small bag of herbs (lavender, chamomile, rosemary, etc) that you want to place next to your head when sleeping.

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