Although we tend to pay much more attention to the mattress, the pillow is an element that is just as important for a good night’s sleep and many times we do not take it that much into account. For example, do you know what to look for when choosing one?
In this article we explain everything you should assess before deciding on one, so that you do not have to try and try, wasting your time and money until you find the one that best suits your needs.
Why is it so important to choose the right pillow?
The pillow has the objective of keeping the spine straight while we sleep. To do this, you must fill in the curvature of the neck, thus also allowing your muscles to relax. Choosing the right pillow not only promotes better rest, but also prevents injuries and pain in the neck and shoulders.
For example, if you sleep on your side or stomach and your pillow is too high, it increases muscle tension in the back of your neck and shoulders and can obstruct breathing (causing snoring). But if it is too low, muscular tensions can appear in the neck.
What to consider when choosing a pillow?
When choosing a pillow, you should keep in mind your physical complexion and your sleeping habits, such as your posture and the movements you make during the night, in order to evaluate the characteristics of each model.
size and firmness
The proper height and firmness depend on the position you adopt when sleeping.
In case you sleep on your stomach or are looking for a pillow for a small child (not for a baby, since they must sleep without it until they are 2 years old), the recommendation is a low pillow (10 cm) and with little firmness, that is, rather soft.
If you sleep on your back or frequently change your position during the night, we advise you to choose a medium height (between 12 and 13 cm) and medium firmness, neither too soft nor too hard.
On the other hand, if you sleep on your side or are very robust, to obtain adequate support you will need a high pillow (15 cm) and a high firmness.
On the other hand, if there are two of you in bed, is it better to have a single pillow or each one his own? Our recommendation is to opt for individual pillows that are adapted to the characteristics and needs of those who use it. In addition, it allows greater freedom of movement and prevents one from monopolizing it completely (something that usually happens).
Regarding the width of the pillow, it must always exceed that of the shoulders and, if there are two, the ideal is that together they complete the width of the bed.
When we talk about materials, we refer to both the padding and the fabric of the cover. While it’s usually common to focus on padding, it’s important to pay attention to both, as they directly affect your sleep.
Regarding the filling, we can find pillows of:
They are breathable pillows, since the air circulates well inside them and they are not very firm, so we recommend them for very thin people or children. Normally, they are usually made of polyester fiber.
Thanks to the thermo-adaptable property of this material, the pillow molds perfectly to the shape of the head and neck, making it ideal for people with cervical or back problems.
Its firmness will vary depending on the density of the visco.
You can take a look at this guide to know which are the best memory foam pillows and how to choose the right one.
Being also an adaptable material, it offers good support. At the same time it is firm, so it is a good choice if you sleep on your side, move around a lot or are very corpulent.
Another of its advantages is that it is anti-mite, so it can be used by people with allergies.
feather and down
They are soft pillows, so they are a good option for those who sleep on their stomachs, but keep in mind that they do not offer a very good support to the neck and that the filling can separate and you will have to reposition it.
We do not recommend them for people who sleep on their side, who move a lot or who are very robust.
And, given the characteristics of the filling, they are also not suitable for allergy sufferers or young children.
These are the aspects you should pay attention to:
- There are different types of fabric: cotton, 50% polyester and 50% cotton mix or Strech® fabric.
- They can carry specific treatments: aloe vera, lavender or the inclusion of carbon thread in the fabric, for example.
- Some are double-sided, one for winter and one for summer.
- They can also be double, an inner cover to protect the padding and an outer cover, removable (with zipper) and washable.
Did you know that there are different formats of pillows?
- Traditional. It is the conventional format, that is, the rectangular pillow, suitable for all types of sleepers.
- Cervical. It has an anatomical shape that adapts better to the curvature of the neck: it has two convex areas separated by another concave area. They are indicated for people with ailments in the cervical and dorsal area. In this guide you will find all the information about the best cervical pillows.
- Butterfly. This type of pillow is narrow in the central area and wider at the edges (like a butterfly) and is also recommended for people who suffer from neck and shoulder pain.
There are also other types of body pillows, such as leg pillows, which can be placed between your legs to keep your body aligned when sleeping, or placed under your knees to slightly elevate your legs.
Or like the pillows for pregnant women, whose purpose is to provide greater support when sleeping on your side and avoid discomfort when sleeping on your back. These can be tubular, in the form of “U” or “C” and wedge type.
Breathability and special treatments
Among the pillows that we can currently find, there are also those that have special aloe vera, lavender and graphene treatments, among others, with anti-mite, anti-fungal, anti-mould, anti-dirt and anti-odor properties.
Another interesting treatment is cooling materials such as gel plates in the upper layer to cool the surface and improve the breathability of the pillow, which works very well, especially if you live in a warm area or tend to be hot when you sleep.
How to choose pillow according to sleeping position?
To find your ideal pillow, you must take into account how you sleep:
If you sleep on your back (supine position): the pillow has to fill the cervical gap. Ideally, you should opt for a pillow of medium height, that is, between 12 and 13 cm, and of medium firmness. The most suitable materials are viscoelastic, fiber and latex. And if you have cervical or back pain, it is best to opt for a cervical pillow, so that the head is fully supported on the cervical pillow and the shoulders are supported on the mattress.
If you sleep on your stomach (supine position): the pillow should be as thin as possible (no more than 10 cm high) so as not to cause an exaggerated extension and rotation of the head. The firmness must be very low, that is, it must be soft, so among the usual materials, we recommend choosing feathers or down (if you are not allergic) or fiber, which have little firmness. The traditional format will be the most appropriate, since the cervical type is not at all advisable for this position.
If you sleep on your side (lateral decubitus): we recommend using a higher pillow (15 cm), which completely covers the gap between the shoulder and the ear, so that the body is aligned. And, it doesn’t have to be soft, but medium firmness to high, so that the head doesn’t sink and offers correct support. Viscoelastic or latex cores are the best, and their shape can be both traditional and cervical, if you need it.
How to care for and preserve your pillow?
Just as choosing well is key, taking care of it and keeping it in good condition is essential:
- Put a breathable protective cover (if it does not have a double cover) between the pillow and the cover of the bedding set. Wash this protective cover every two months or so.
- If the pillow is washable, do it every 6 months.
- In the case of a case with both sides the same, turn it over frequently to prevent it from deforming.
- Try to air the pillow (if it gets a little sun, the better, except in latex ones), at least once a week.
However, although with good maintenance the useful life of a pillow can reach 5 years, it is advisable to replace it every 2 years, especially if it is not washable.
Choosing our pillow well will not only help us to have a better rest, but also prevents us from suffering injuries or cervical or dorsal pain caused by an incorrect sleeping position.
When choosing it, keep in mind that the height and firmness are adapted to your way of sleeping and physical structure, in addition to being hypoallergenic (if you need it), breathable and, if it has some treatment that allows you to extend its useful life, better.