Do you love your pillow? Pillows have been favorite bed accessories for many years; the ancient Greeks were enamored of lavishly embroidered pillows, and the Egyptians even sent pillows to the afterlife with their dead. For centuries it was traditional to sleep not just on pillows, but also propped up by bolsters so that the sleeper was almost sitting rather than lying prone. Today, there are so many pillow options available that if you don’t love yours, there are plenty of options from which you can choose the next place you rest your head. Of course, several different factors come into play when you’re shopping for the best pillow.
First, think of how you sleep. Your pillow should work with your mattress to fully support your spine, and if it doesn’t adequately support your neck, this can lead to headaches and sleep loss. This is because your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments get fatigued during the night if they’re not supported, and your neck can fall into an unnatural position. Knowing how you sleep can help you find the pillow that will best support your neck.
- Back and stomach sleepers have similar problems when choosing a pillow. Too much stuffing in a pillow can strain your neck in each of these positions, while too little will leave you without support. People who sleep on their backs or stomachs need an easily adjustable pillow or a pillow that automatically conforms to the neck and head.
- Side sleepers need a pillow that takes up space between the head and the mattress. The neck doesn’t really need support in this position, but if the pillow is too high it will crank the neck sideways, and if it’s too low the neck will become strained from trying to support the weight of the head. There’s also the issue of shoulder posture when sleeping on your side because tucking your forearm under your body or under your pillow will cause too much pressure on the rotator cuff.
Once you’ve determined what kind of pillow best suits your sleeping position, it’s time to consider stuffing. You need to find the right balance of support vs. comfort, and understanding the various stuffing options can help you determine what’s right for you. It’s also important to find a pillow made of washable material that allows appropriate airflow so you’re comfortable while you sleep.
- Memory foam pillows conform to the pressure of the head. First developed in 1966 by NASA, this foam is created by feeding gas into a polymer to create a solid structure that conforms to pressure and then returns to its original shape. Pillows made with memory foam can be helpful to those who suffer neck pain because they conform to the head shape while springing back to support the neck. They’re durable, but can be expensive. They also tend to trap heat, are dense and heavy, and can have an odor that bothers some people. Shredded memory foam has better air circulation than traditional memory foam, but shredded foam pillows are less supportive and don’t conform to the head as well.
- Feather pillows have long been a popular option, stuffed with feathers or down of ducks or geese. Down is much softer than feathers, but it’s expensive, so most pillows are stuffed with a combination of feathers and down. The more down is in the pillow, the more expensive the pillow is. Feather pillows are adjustable, lightweight, easy to wash, with good airflow, and there are options to fit every budget. On the other hand, if a feather pillow is too soft it can be less supportive than it needs to be, and feather pillows lose their shape quickly. They can also be noisy, they’re not vegan or cruelty-free, they collect allergens, and the feathers can work their way through the cover and poke you.
- Polyester pillows come in different levels of firmness and thickness. They’re affordable and easy to wash, lightweight, with a low odor. Unfortunately, they’ve also got low airflow and they're not very durable. The support degrades over time, and they’re not environmentally friendly, though they do provide a lovely haven for dust mites.
- Specialty pillows have unorthodox stuffings. Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls, and which makes them adjustable and durable, with good airflow. However, they can be too firm, they’re hard to clean and adjust, and they can be noisy. Further, some people have buckwheat allergies. Water pillows are another specialty pillow, essentially a small waterbed for your head. Typically, they’re made of a layer of polyester fiberfill on an adjustable water sack, encased in a pillow cover. They’re supportive and adjustable, cool and odorless, and stay in place. On the negative side, they’re heavy, expensive, hard to adjust, make sloshing noises, and the polyester is not very durable.
If you’re looking for a mattress to match your perfect pillow, you owe it to yourself to check out Mancini's Sleepworld. Since 1969, the Mancini family has owned and operated their store in Sunnyvale, CA, selling brand name mattresses at fair prices and treating every customer with respect. Beginning an expansion in 1989, we now have 33 locations across the greater bay area, allowing for same day mattress delivery in most cases. To learn more about Mancini's Sleepworld, contact us through our website or call 800-647-5337.