Your pillow can be your best friend or your worst enemy. After all you spend one-third of your life with your pillow and it knows better than anybody how you sleep best and how you sleep worst. Doesn’t it make sense to make the right choice to provide yourself the most comfort and the best sleep during that significant portion of your life.
In order to get the most out of your pillow you really should give it more than a passing thought.
But if you’ve ever been to the pillow department and seen all the choices, you have probably suffered from “pillow shock” at the amazing array and the stunning expense.
First things first, are you looking for a “sleeping pillow” or a “looking good pillow?” Around my house, there are pillows we sleep with and pillows we put on the bed to look good. This article focuses mainly on “sleeping pillows.” However, we’ll say this about pillows that are meant to look good: Pick a good pillow that will retain its shape and choose the length and shape that looks best to you.
If it’s not meant to be used, those are really the only things that matter.
Now, sleeping pillows have a very specific purpose: To help you sleep your best. There are several options to consider:
SIZE – There are basically three sizes available. Standard, King, and Queen. A King or Queen pillow may be too long for sleeping unless you’re looking for a body length pillow.
Occasionally you may find full-body length pillows available.
FIRMNESS – Pay attention to the firmness of a pillow when you’re purchasing it. The required firmness of the pillow will change depending on the position you sleep in. Your pillow should give you proper head and spine support. The shape and support that your pillow provides changes if you are a back sleeper or a side sleeper. If you’re a back sleeper you will need a fairly flat or soft pillow.
If you’re a side sleeper, you might need a pillow that has some more substantial support that can support your head. Here are some quick and dirty guidelines:
Stomach Sleeper – go for ‘soft’
Back Sleeper – go for ‘medium’
Side Sleeper – go for ‘firm’
Of course if you’re like me, you might flop around in some or all of those positions making your firmness choice a bit more difficult.
FILLINGS – Pillow fillings are important to your pillow choice and have a great deal of impact on pillow comfort, durability, and even air quality.
You have quite a few options available to you and each has it’s own positives and negatives. Cotton is naturally hypoallergenic, but can compact over time. Down or down-blend is considered the height of comfort, longevity, and adjustability. Even though some progress has been made in hypoallergenic down pillows, those with allergy sensitivities may still have problems with down pillows. Feather pillows use different blends of down and feathers in many different combinations.
The same warning for allergy sensitive users should apply here. Polyester comes in a couple of different grades, regular polyester is pretty common but can become compacted, like cotton. Siliconized polyester feels similar to down and will not become compacted like regular polyester. Latex foam rubber gives good support and maintains its shape but will break down over time.
COVERING – The ticking (cloth covering) for your pillow serves several purposes. It should keep the filling in and keep the dust out of your pillow. For a down pillow, look for a 250 thread count on the ticking. For other fillings, 200 thread count should be sufficient.
Don’t cheat yourself when choosing a pillow. It can really be more important than you can ever imagine. Once you’ve slept through the night with the right pillow, you’ll never want to go back.
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