Just like a mattress, a quality pillow guaranteed to give you a good night's sleep. It might be time to change yours if you often wake up with shoulder, neck or back pain. You may be getting these pains because your body isn't aligned while you sleep, and a good pillow could help fix that.
Correcting your sleeping position and aligning your body is exactly what a good pillow will do. Your goal is to have the most appropriate posture to relax your muscles and promote good quality rest. But do you know how to choose the best pillow for you? Do you know which one best suits your posture and sleeping pattern? No? Well, you're in luck: we designed this guide to tell you everything you need to know.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 First things first
- 3 The best pillows in the UK
- 3.1 Ecosafeter Contour Memory Foam Pillow (1 pack, Standard)
- 3.2 Adam Home Premium Pillows with Quilted Cover (4 Pack, Standard)
- 3.3 BedStory Luxury Plush Fibre Pillows (2 Pack, Standard & Queen)
- 3.4 Silentnight Deep Sleep Pillow (2 Pack, Standard)
- 3.5 Slumberdown Supper Support Pillows (2 pack, Standard)
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about pillows
- 4.1 What exactly is a pillow?
- 4.2 What types of pillows are out there?
- 4.3 What is memory foam?
- 4.4 Which materials should I choose?
- 4.5 Which type of pillow is the right one for me?
- 4.6 How do I know my pillow size?
- 4.7 Which are better: memory foam or feather pillows?
- 4.8 How do I take care of my pillow?
- 4.9 How often should I change my pillow?
- 4.10 Which is the best pillow to combat pain?
- 4.11 Is sleeping with a pillow between the legs useful?
- 4.12 How should I use my neck support pillow?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
First things first
- The posture in which you sleep is a key factor in your final decision.
- The different materials of the pillow will strongly influence its firmness, as do the distinct fillings available.
- Your pillow should always be wider than your shoulders. Lower pillows are most appropriate for lightweight people and those who sleep on their front. Higher models are designed for those who sleep on their sides, and medium pillows for those who sleep on their backs.
- Pillows with special designs, such as cervical models, are designed for people with muscle pains and aches. They are also useful for pregnant women.
The best pillows in the UK
If you want to get a good, well rested night's sleep, then picking the right pillow is essential. There is a wide range of pillows available on the market, so you'll have to consider factors such as your sleeping habits and physical build – in particular your height and weight. We've selected the very best pillows out there and listed them in the next section to help you make your choice.
Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about pillows
If you think that pillows are just another item in your bedroom, think again. A change of pillow could be the best decision you make if you suffer from sleep problems, and back or neck pains. We encourage you to really think about your choice of pillow, since sleep is very important and a good quality sleep is vital for our health. This is why we've designed the following guide to help you. Let's get started!
What exactly is a pillow?
What types of pillows are out there?
There are pillows made of natural fibres, synthetic fillings, with firm or softer textures, the list goes on. In the following table, we have listed the different types of pillows and their characteristics to help you in your final decision.
|Viscoelastic (memory foam)||Synthetic foam.||Fits the shape of the body.||May be very hard and hot. Not machine washable.||You can choose its size. Certain models offer heat-resistant fabrics.|
|Fibre||Polyester and synthetic fibres.||Machine washable. More affordable, they are hypoallergenic.||They deform and lose consistency quickly. The filler may spoil.||They are usually relatively cheap. Silicone hollow fibres are hypoallergenic.|
|Gel||Memory foam and latex.||They feature a middle layer of gel.||More expensive. Cannot be washed. They require have an antiperspirant cover.||Ideal for hot areas.|
|Anatomic||Memory foam.||Allows you to relax when in the correct posture. Improves blood flow. The weight is evenly distributed.||Square models only allow you to sleep on the back. Getting used to them can be difficult. They can be very hard.||Ideal for people with neck or back pain.|
|Feather||Goose feathers, down or a combination of both.||Malleable structure. Lightweight and cool.||Avoid in case of allergies, back or neck pains. They require dry cleaning.||They are more refreshing.|
|Latex||Latex or a mixture of latex and memory foam.||Excellent head and neck support. Comfortable. Relieves back pain.||Can be too firm. Cannot be washed. Unpleasant smell (non-toxic).||Smooth and with good neck and back support. Soft to the touch. Good adaptability.|
What is memory foam?
It is also used in hospitals for the manufacture of prostheses, as well as for adaptable mattresses and pillows. This type of material is ideal to promote rest for people with back and neck conditions, as its ability to adapt to the natural contour of the body allows it to alleviate pressure on the neck, back and limbs.
Which materials should I choose?
If you are prone to having allergic reactions, your best options will be memory foam or synthetic fibre, as both feather and latex can cause serious problems. If you have neck issues, materials like memory foam or gel will offer better support and adequate density that will promote rest.
Which type of pillow is the right one for me?
Here is a list of the most appropriate pillows for each sleeping posture, which we hope will help you find the right one:
- If you sleep on your side: Thicker pillows are recommended. They will keep your neck straight and aligned with your spine. If your neck is not aligned with your back, you may suffer from neck problems and muscular pains in the long run.
- If you sleep on your stomach: You will best rest with a soft, thin, flexible pillow. In this posture, your neck doesn't need so much height to stay aligned with your spine. However, it's not recommended to sleep in this position as it puts strain on your neck.
- You sleep on your back: A pillow with a medium thickness is what you need. Your neck should be raised a little to maintain alignment with your back, although not as much as if you sleep on your side.
How do I know my pillow size?
There are three criteria for you to consider in order to pick your pillow size: the build of your shoulders, your sleeping posture and the firmness you want or need. One way to find your size is to lie on a very thin pillow and add towels until you find the right posture. When you've got it, measure the pillow and towels and this should give you your ideal size.
Which are better: memory foam or feather pillows?
On the other other hand, pillows filled with feathers or down aren't very firm, which makes them ideal for those who sleep on their front. However, they don't seem to be the best for those who tend to sleep on their backs, even though their softness allows them to adapt well to almost any posture. Durable and lightweight, they can also get a little warm.
Are you unsure about which pillowcases are the best? In the table below, we've detailed the main differences between synthetic and natural pillowcases.
|Memory foam||They adapt better to the contour of your body. They are hypoallergenic and very easy to find. They can be washed. Ideal for people with muscle problems.||They can be very hard and are not suitable for sleeping on your side. They are somewhat more expensive.|
|Down||Lighter, they easily adapt to all sleeping postures. Pleasant to the touch. Mouldable structure. They control the temperature better.||To be avoided in case of allergies. Maintenance requires more effort. Not recommended for people with neck pain.|
How do I take care of my pillow?
Depending on its material, each type of pillow requires specific care. Below is some info which will help you best look after your new pillow:
|Fibre||Machine wash. Wrap with a cloth of the same colour. Roll it up to stop it from getting deformed. Put it on a delicate washing programme. Do not spin-dry. Wash separately.|
|Memory foam||Do not machine wash because they will get ruined Do not spin-dry. Check the manufacturer's label. Wash the pillowcase frequently. Add a protective breathable fabric pillowcase. Air out daily. Vacuum once every two weeks. Turn it over.|
|Latex||Same maintenance as with memory foam models.|
|Gel and anatomic||Same as memory foam pillows. Do not flip it over because the gel won't work as well.|
|Feather||Wash at least once a year. If it has stains, soak for one hour with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Put a tennis ball in the washing machine with the pillow to prevent feathers from clumping. Put it on a delicate washing programme and use liquid detergent. Do not add fabric softener. Air dry on a flat surface.|
How often should I change my pillow?
That being said, it is most recommended to change pillows more or less every two years. It is actually very likely that, after this period, your pillow won't be the same shape as it used to be, and it will most likely have dust mites on it. That being said, you should obviously change it before that time if you notice that it is no longer comfortable.
Which is the best pillow to combat pain?
These pillows perfectly adapt to the shape of the head and neck. They are also designed to alleviate pressure on the area and relax the muscles. They are called "memory foam" because they regain their original shape when you take the pressure off of them. They offer medium firmness and resistance, which provides a pleasant level of relaxation in the neck.
Is sleeping with a pillow between the legs useful?
If you tend to sleep on your side, using a pillow between your legs is the best option to avoid causing muscle injuries and rest more comfortably.
This technique reduces the weight and pressure of the upper leg, while eliminating the pressure of the muscles of the hip and lower back, resulting in a better alignment.
How should I use my neck support pillow?
Ideally, your head, neck and shoulders should be perfectly aligned and adopt a natural posture that will prevent injuries and pains. Unlike with other pillows, you need to sleep on your back for cervical models to be efficient.
Pillows are incredibly important if you want to get the best rest possible. Nowadays, thanks to scientific development, the market offers a wide range of models and types – such as cervical, memory foam or latex. In the following section, we've detailed the key aspects that you need to consider when making your purchase.
This is one of the most important things you need to think about when buying a pillow, as it strongly influences what it can offer you in terms of comfort and quality. We've already touched on this, but memory foam pillows are currently the best-selling on the market. The reason for this is that they are comfortable and resistant, adapt perfectly to the contours of the neck, and alleviate pain and stress in the process.
Today, synthetic fibres and memory foam are the most commonly used and sold materials.
If you want to opt for more traditional materials, feather, down or natural or synthetic fibre pillows will be your options. The latter are most recommended for people suffering from allergies, and also happen to be the most affordable. Finally, you should go for latex if you prefer a soft touch and a greater durability – but remember that these models are more expensive, and some people can be allergic to latex.
As we explained earlier in the article, choosing the right pillow size isn't just about matching with the size of your bed. While they used to be the measured this way, there are now higher or lower pillows depending on the needs of your body and your sleeping posture. As you can imagine, sleeping on your side, on your front or on your back don't present the same requirements.
Certain pillows even feature an adjustable height through a system of interchangeable internal parts. These models are ideal for individuals with neck and back problems. While they are a little more expensive, they're your best option if you really want to correct your posture.
Again, the position in which you sleep will directly impact the type of pillow you should buy. Stomach sleepers, for instance, are advised to opt for feather or down pillows, as they tend to be much thinner and more adaptable. On the other hand, memory foam or gel models are tailored for people who sleep on their back.
Featuring a higher density, memory foam or latex pillows will also be comfortable for sleeping on your back. Fibre pillows are extremely versatile: they adapt well to the neck and fit easily, whether you sleep on your side or in any other posture. Take a good look at how you sleep, and choose the pillow that will be most comfortable.
The majority of pillows present a traditional design, with some being taller, wider or longer depending on their size. However, certain models feature special designs, which are specifically designed for people with postural problems or back aches. If that's your case, consider your needs and choose accordingly.
We can't emphasise enough how important it is to think about your sleeping posture when you're choosing a design for your new pillow. Don't settle for the very first pillow you see, but rather adapt it to your posture and your preferences.
The pillowcase is another key element that you shouldn't neglect. Most pillows come with a washable cover. Memory foam pillows, for example, have a protective cover that you will need to wash regularly. These pillowcases are generally made from natural fibres such as aloe vera or bamboo. Make sure that you can change and wash the pillowcase.
Don't forget to pay attention to the material of the pillowcase when buying your pillow: it should be hypoallergenic and anti-dust mites. This is particularly important if you suffer from asthma or are allergic to dust.
Individual or double pillow
The answer is very simple if you sleep alone, even if it is in a large bed. An individual pillow is perfect for you since you don't have to worry about your partner's movement during the night. Shared pillows are an option for those who sleep with a partner, but they come with their problems, since you have to agree on the same material, which may not end up being the most suitable material for one of you.
Also, if one of you has a tendency to move during the night, they will most likely bother the other person. This is why it is now recommended for everyone to have their own individual pillow. That way, both people in the couple has a model tailored to their specific needs.
Pillows are much more than mere pieces of fabric on which we rest our heads at night. How well we sleep depends a lot on choosing the right model, which will also prevent us from suffering from neck and back pains the next morning. Your pillow should align the axes of your neck and back, helping you get the most refreshing sleep and relieving stress.
As we explained in our article, many factors will influence your purchasing decision: these include your sleeping posture, whether you suffer from back and neck pain or not, the manufacturing material and even how well you look after the pillow. If you follow our advice, we're confident that you'll be able to pick the perfect pillow to sleep like a log.
If you liked our shopping guide, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below, or share with your friends and family so that they can choose their perfect pillow. Sweet dreams!
(Source of featured image: Belchonock: 32985619/ 123rf.com)