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How to Find the Perfect Pillow for Your Sleep Style

Updated on May 19, 2014

A Bed for your Head!

I know it might sound easy, maybe even entertaining. I mean how difficult can it really be to shop for that perfect pillow? A wonderful soft, supportive little bed for your head couldn't be that difficult to find, or could it? A large assortment is a plus, that way you are sure to find one that is suitable for your own sleep style, but beware. It can also be downright confusing in these days of so many options and new fibers, some that I have never even heard of. And let's face it, the salesperson that you look to, so vulnerably for help isn't always a neutral party in this shopping endeavor. They typically have their own agenda; to sell their companies products, right? And what works for your best friend may not work for you, there are many perfect pillow pitfalls that one must be keenly aware of.

So, what is a sleeping beauty wanna-be to do? Research! Research Research! Because everyone is so different, what works for one person may not work for another! Generally speaking, your sleeping position or sleep style will determine which pillow is a good choice for you. Perhaps "perfect" is only asking for trouble? Experts do seem to agree that a cushion that keeps your head in a neutral position is always a winning goal. Your head should be sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward. Keep in mind that the final test is to actually try the pillow after doing your research and narrowing it down to a list of potential candidates. Take a friend if it will help you focus and/or distract pushy sales people. You must be able to take the time to lie down and relax, using this perfect pillow as you would at home, complete with your same old sleep style, without feeling pressured or hurried! Sweet Dreams!

Here are a few tips:

Stomach Sleepers- If you sleep on your stomach you will need a thinner, flatter cushion for your crown, if you elevate your head too much with a thicker pillow you will stress the natural curve of your spine. Some of the cotton pillows I tried are flatter than most and keep the body in a nice straight line.

Back Sleepers- Thicker pillows may seem like a solution but it can also push a back- sleeper's head up too far. Down pillows are best for their squish-ability factor but they just don't provide enough support. Back sleepers also need thinner pillows, so their head is not thrown too far forward.

Side Sleepers- Look for a plumper pillow to fill in the space between your neck and your shoulder, keeping your spine perfectly aligned. This tends to be my favorite sleep style by the way and I have noticed that support while in this position is indeed essential. Fortunately there are many pillow contenders for this side sleeper position so now it is all about trying them out, a sleep test run of sorts.

Allergies Anyone?- Synthetic materials are a reasonably priced alternative to popular down and feather pillows which can eventually cause allergies because they are a breeding ground for dust-mites. Organic and natural pillows are also great for allergy sufferers, typically made with natural fibers, like wool, cotton, and latex. Because wool is a natural fire repellent, there are no chemical additives, required by law on most bedding and home furnishings now days, unless special testing facilities provide an exemption to fire-proofing regulations. Because of strict growing, processing and testing requirements, most organic bedding is costly, however when you consider that you are breathing in these chemicals all night long, it may be well worth the investment.

Time to buy a new pillow? if your pillow is past its prime, it may contain skin cells, mold, mildew, fungus, and dust mites, which make up more than half of an older pillow's weight. Ewwww! Experts say the general rule is to buy a pillow every 12 to 18 months. After two years, it's definitely time for a new one!

Don't be fooled by price! According to experts, even the most glamorous down, feather, wool and silk pillows aren't necessarily any healthier or functional than a much cheaper latex, polyester or buckwheat pillow. Your first consideration should be the pillow's shape, firmness and durability; you can take care of any aesthetic issues with new pillow covers. I would recommend a pillow cover for whatever style you choose, whether it is to safeguard a new pillow from spills or prevent possible fire retardant chemicals from seeping out and into lungs, a pillow cover is a cheap safeguard!

Your pillow is only as good as your bed. Even if you buy the healthiest, most supportive pillow in the world, it won't counteract the effects of a lumpy, broken-down mattress. Update your sleep system in increments if needed, since it is an essential but substantial investment when you consider the time we spend in bed! Many employees don't realize that you may be able to use your Flex Spending Account at work to finance your new mattress purchase, so at least you will be using pre-tax dollars, always an incentive! Many Chiropractors and Physicians will now provide a prescription for a chemical free or custom made mattress or sleep system which also entitles you to skip the sales tax, quite a savings as well as a potential perk for allergy or back pain sufferers at their wit's end.

Consult your doctor if necessary. If you do have neck or back problems, you may want to ask your doctor or chiropractor for a recommendation. By describing how you tend to sleep (on your back, on your side, constantly shifting) an experienced doctor should be able to recommend the proper pillow type in addition to other things that may help to alleviate your suffering, or at least help you get a better night's rest!.


Pillow Type Summary

Pillow Type
Owner Satisfaction
Good compromise between soft and firm support, natural fiber that holds shape, durable, effective at pain relief, won't clump.
Can be pricey. May give off initial odor, may flatten over time, may be too thick. Varies according to quality
Organic Cotton
Provides gentle yet firm lift, and is free from finishing agents and pesticides used in conventional crops. All green pillows are gaining popularity
Organic Cotton label can be confusing & misleading. Can be too flat - Routinely mixed with other fibers to provide support. Good 1st pillow for child.
Down Alternative/Gel
Down-like feel, reasonably priced, good value, cuddly and moldable
May lack adequete support and firmness, possible lumpiness
Generally supportive & contouring, can adjust loft by adding or removing hulls. Great air flow.
Too firm for some, heavy, some noise, odor possible. May need to experiment to determine right fill quantity.
Organic Wool
Gaining popularity due to its moisture & fire repellant properties, frequently layered with supportive latex, covered in cotton.
Many shoppers assume that wool will have a rough feel, can be costly, organic wool does have that barnyard smell:)
Water-Based (Mediflow)
Pain relieving ability, contouring support, adjustable loft and firmness, few odor complaints.
Heavy when filled, possible noise issues. Need to experiment to determine comforatble water amount to suitindividual preference, average durability, can be pricey
Inexpensive, reasonably durable, easy to care for, no odor likely.
Can clump, shift abd develop hollow spots, may not contour adaquetly to one's head and neck.
Often soft, cuddly and scrunchable; lightweight; durable; quiet; good air flow.
Can lack adequate loft and support; initial odor possible; can be pricey; may need to be fluffed/shaken regularly; feathers may escape case.
Soft, moldable, cuddly, usually long lasting and durable, often expensive, good value.
Can lack adequete support and loft, quills may poke through cover, some noise, need to fluff/shake to maintain loft and comfort. Odor possible.
Memory Foam
Good compromise between soft and supportive, above average pain relief, contoured support, quiet, contents won't clump, easy to care for.
Initial gassing-off odor possible, loft and support may not suit some individual needs, too firm for some people, like tempur-pedic mattresses, may act as heat trap
Micro Bead
Generally supportive and conforming, can be effective at pain relief, good asir flow.
Too firm for some, off gassing possible, duability questionable and depends on pillow.
Pillow ratings data from & from 2010 study

How to Select the Perfect Pillow



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    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      No problem WallStickerDecals, there are so many pillow options out there I don't know how anyone can make a choice at all! I appreciate your comments!

    • WallStickerDecals profile image

      WallStickerDecals 6 years ago from US

      Big thank you for this advices! It really helps a lot!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks kitty, I know the tempur-pedic pillows are very popular, I don't think I have ever tried one though, seems like it would really support though with the memory foam. I am glad you came by! Sweet Dreamers

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      We have the tempur-pedic cloud pillows...the kind that mold to your head and they are fabulous! They've really helped with both my husband's back problems and my neck problems. I think a good pillow is definitely important for a good night sleep. Wonderful and useful hub. Voted up and useful!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for visiting Pillowsville Ethel, I know-finding the right one is not easy - especially with neck problems! Glad you finally found it though!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Such great advice. It is difficult finding the right pillow for you. As I have neck and shoulder problems I know this all too well. After wasting money on lots of different pillows I finally found one that works for me

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you LC, you definitely deserve a perfect pillow to rest your head, especially with all the work you do! I am so glad to see you - Enjoy a restful weekend!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California've really hit this one on the though..I am in search of a good pillow and I'm always telling my friends that, at my age, I still don't know how to elevate or support my head and neck thus getting horrible neck aching. Now, you have confirmed what I began to suspect...that one must keep one's head aligned properly and not too far forward or backward or, if on one's side...not to tipped one way or the other..which happens to be my problem. NOW, I have an answer and lots of 411 to aid my search for the perfect pillow! YES! Thank you. UY and USEFUL!...and there should be a "HEALTHY," too.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      Chatkath, thanks so much for this informative hub. Your timing couldn't have been better....I'm pillow shopping.

      up/and very useful

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Hi Christine! I know, pillows can be quite pricey! Some of the "organic" ones are are well over $100 and then some of the down ones are even more depending on the fill. There are just too many choices...sure hope you find something you like soon, I know how you want everything right by "the" day :-)

    • ChristineVianello profile image

      ChristineVianello 6 years ago from Philadelphia

      I love this topic because I was just talking about this with my fiancé. We were at Macy's registering for our wedding and picking out pillows. I was in shock on how much some pillows cost! Out of all the hundreds of pillows I saw, I could not find one that I liked.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks twentyfive! Guess it is about that time! Glad you had a chance to stop by. Don't let the bedbugs bite :-)

    • twentyfive profile image

      twentyfive 6 years ago

      Wow, you really discussed the important and useful details in choosing the perfect pillow :) Thanks for this excellent article. Sweetdreams :)

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you RT, It would be an honor to be linked to any of your hubs. And I will link back if that's ok.....Speaking of Laundry detergent I am getting ready to make from your awesome recipe this weekend! I will let you know how it turns out!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      What a great guide with important info! And timely for spring cleaning days. I will be using and sharing this hub with friend who are non-hubbers. Thanks much. Voted up and useful.

      (If you have objection I would like to link this hub to a couple of mind, one on posture and one on laundry detergent.)

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks Kashmir! Hope you had a great Easter Day! Glad you came by!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Chatkath, Thanks for all this great information on selecting the right pillow it will help next time i buy new ones .

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks Wendy, I have always been a side sleeper too ;-) Thank you for stopping in!

    • profile image

      wendy87 6 years ago

      i am Side Sleepers and your hub is useful for me thanks for sharing... voted up!!!!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Jalus, I am so glad you stopped in for a little pillow talk, I can tell by those bags under your eyes that you are just not getting the rest you need!

      Speaking of not getting enough rest, I would like to chat with you sometime about school, specifically Forensics. I will email you probably tomorrow! In the meantime - Sweet Dreams!

    • profile image

      Jalus 6 years ago

      Hi Chatkath, This is a great hub. There are so many choices! I always seems to pick the wrong pillow, but you have helped me out. I'm going to try some of these out next time. Thanks!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Sharyn-

      Too bad there's not more time to enjoy pillows huh? Thanks for your comments - I appreciate the visit!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hey CK,

      Wow, so much info. So many choices! I recently bought a new pillow. The cost was in the middle~not cheap and not outrageously priced. I hate it! It lost its "poof" after about a week and now I fold it in half to get comfy. I should have done more research. But now I don't have to, you did! Thanks!


    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Ha Ha - Now Epi, you are looking in the wrong section my dear Man! But your comments are always so well received here, I always need a smile even if you do already have the perfect pillow! Thank you for your visit! I am honored ;-)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...that's a pretty nice looking pillow in that first picture Kathy - how's a man supposed to sleep with something (or someone) like that in his bed - lol lol - but again you have served us well with your passion, knowledge and expertise of your subject material - you are a first class writer and an advocate of consumer's rights and your product exposes are among the best one could ever hope to find at Hubpages!!!!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Hi Katie- Multiple pillows are great for relaxing or building a pillow pyramid if you need to slip away unnoticed for awhile :) So many choices though! Thanks for your comments!

      Thank you Prasetio- I always look forward to your wonderful feedback! Sweet Dreams!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Thanks for writing this. I am glad to know all these tips from you. I really enjoy all types of pillows from this hub. Well done, my friend. Rated up!


    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      I love a good pillow or two maybe three or so. Thanks for the great outline, guide and tips on how to select the best pillow for me. It can be daunting. :) Katie

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thanks Green Lotus, I do appreciate the forward! I guess everyone has their own favorites, and there are so many choices!

      Thanks Susan, glad you had a chance to do some pillow research :)

      Yep, that's my problem Nell, as soon as I think I found one that works, here comes another choice!

      Thanks for commenting everyone!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, I recently bought some new ones but I must admit that they aren't that good, I never knew there were so many choices, thanks nell

    • profile image

      Just Ask Susan 6 years ago

      Thanks Chatkath you just reminded me that I do need to buy some new pillows soon and your hub about all the different kinds have sure helped a lot.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      This one is bookmarked and forwarded to friends and clients. We recently nixed a $300+ top of the line down pillow for a client. Now we can present a few excellent alternatives. Much thanks!!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you MM, I know, who can have enough pillows anyway? Just need more time to use them ;-)

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 6 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      Thanks for such a great informative Hub, I must get my hands on some of these wonderful pillows...