Many people dismiss the importance of a pillow in their lives. Yes, their lives. After all, we can spend up to a third of our lives asleep, and the vast majority of that time will be spent on a pillow. To put that in perspective, we will spend an average of 24 years straight, 24/7 with our heads on some sort of pillow. Tell me that’s not important. And that’s why picking the appropriate pillow for you is so crucial; a pillow that is not suitable for you can not only result in less than restful sleep, which has been shown to increase risk factors for all sorts of health complications such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, just to name a few, but also in chronic neck pain from lack of neck support. If you’ve ever suffered from chronic neck pain, then you know just how debilitating it can be.
That said, with so many pillow options on the market (down, feather, polyester, cotton, wool, memory foam, latex, buckwheat) and even more variations within each type, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Such is the benefit of living in a consumerist society, I suppose. Now that you know just how important choosing the right pillow for you is, here are 5 things you need to know in order to make sure you make the right choice.
Know the Market
This means educating yourself as to the different types of pillows out there, as we have previously mentioned above. Each type of pillow has its own pros and cons, for example memory foam pillows are great at providing neck support but can tend to overhead during the night while buckwheat pillows have great ventilation but are noisy. And that’s just the pillow filling, there are also may specialized pillows such as neck pain pillows, side sleeper pillows, body pillows, and orthopedic pillows.
Don’t worry, we’re not quoting Dwayne Johnson here. What this means is that every person has their own unique needs when it comes to a pillow, because we all have slight but important physical shapes to our necks and spines, not to mention that different muscle and weight distributions, which also affect the type of pillow that’s right for you. People also have different sleeping positions, for example side sleepers usually require a thicker pillow due to the greater distance between the head and the mattress. Further, take into consideration your personal health issues as well; if you have neck or spine issues for example, it is best to consult with your doctor or physical therapist to determine what pillow characteristics you should be looking for. If you suffer from neck aches, try checking out these 5 best pillows for neck pain. They are made specially to cradle the neck and keep your spine aligned when you sleep.
Know the Trends
Just like any popular and essential consumer good, there are always trends, even if they’re not immediately as noticeable as the latest digital sensation. For example, memory foam pillows saw a resurgence in popularity in the late 2000s (after their peak in the 90s) due to the introduction of the third generation gel memory foam pillows, which had all the supportive and conforming benefits of the normal memory foam pillow, except that it didn’t overheat during the night. That doesn’t mean you have to follow the trends however; what’s popular might not be what’s right for you. For example, in the case of gel memory foam pillows, some people might still find them overly firm. And they’re definitely too thick for stomach sleepers too.
Know the Timing
A brand new pillow can be deceptive: you can’t always judge its suitability after one or even a few nights. More often than not, good pillows, especially the natural ones, require a breaking in period. One to two weeks is a good timeframe. Sometimes a pillow might feel initially uncomfortable, but your body will adapt to it and you then find it comfortable. The initial discomfort can often come from your spine and overall sleeping posture getting acclimated to a new posture; even if that posture is more beneficial for you. Of course, the converse also applies.
Know your Budget
As it is with most things, you usually get what you pay for. While pillows are not a major household expense, expensive ones can often be in the three figure range which might simply not be feasible for some people. Nevertheless, think about how much of your life you will be spending on a pillow and consider making room in your budget to shell out for a higher quality and more expensive pillow. Generally speaking, polyester pillows are the cheapest (note however that there are many quality grades within the polyester pillow category) while down pillows (especially pure down pillows, not the feather/down mix) are the most expensive.