From feather and firm to soft and super sized, there are seemingly endless options to choose from when it comes to finding the perfect pillow. But doing your share of research is worth the work—finding the best type of pillow for your body and preferred sleeping posture can help improve your sleep, promote healthy spinal alignment, and alleviate some of the aches and pains associated with awkward sleeping positions.
In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of pillows available, and the factors you should consider when shopping for the perfect pillow. Plus, we’ll provide some more specific guidance for side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers. Read on for a comprehensive overview, or use the links below to navigate to the section you’re most interested in.
What’s the best pillow to buy? What’s the best type of pillow for my sleeping style? These are all questions that you’ve probably asked yourself during the pillow-buying process. Below, we’ve broken down some of the key factors to consider when shopping for the right pillow for your needs.
The fill of a pillow is the type of material that the pillow is filledwith, creating the supportive firm or plushy comfort you’re looking for. There are several types of fill to choose from, each with their own advantages and drawbacks:
Memory foamis a material that is engineered with polyurethane and other chemicals. The culmination of these materials is referred to as “viscoelasticity,” which describes how memory foam contours to the curves of your body and reflexes back to its original shape when pressure isn’t being applied.
Down pillowsare made with clusters of goose or duck down feathers—the soft feathers found within the bird’s undercoat. While soft and airy, down pillows can have a number of drawbacks, namely, allergies for those who are sensitive to animal products.
Synthetic downis the engineered alternative to down feathers. Synthetic down pillows use polyester fibers to mimic the fluffy feeling of a feather down pillow. This alternative is hypoallergenic and can be a great choice for individuals who consciously avoid animal products.
Polyester pillowsare a popular option for those on a tight budget. And it's no surprise that they've become one of the most common pillow styles because they're soft, cuddly, and breathable. Polyester pillows, which are made up of hundreds of soft polyester fibers, or poly fibers, are suitable for side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers.
Latex pillowsoffer a supportive, contoured feel that’s similar to that of a memory foam pillow, with the added benefit of a cooling feel. Latex pillows can be a good fit for all types of sleepers, including, side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers.
Loft describes the height of your pillow—a high loft will create a taller barrier between your head and your mattress, while a lower loft will offer a thinner barrier. Loft is an important metric to consider when shopping for your perfect pillow, and the ideal loft for you depends on your preferred sleeping position.
High loft:Best for side sleepers as it promotes healthy spine alignment and alleviates pressure on the downside shoulder.
Medium loft:Best for back sleepers as it helps relieve pressure in the neck and shoulders.
Low loft:Best for stomach sleepers as it prevents the neck from craning upwards, creating poor spinal alignment and straining neck and shoulders.
Although you’ll likely cover it with a pillowcase, the fabric you choose for your pillow is also important. Pillow fabric should be breathable and long-lasting.
Pillow size really comes down to personal preference, with standard and king-size pillows being the most popular styles. A standard pillow is adequate for most people, but if you prefer anything larger, a king pillow might be the best option. When selecting pillow size, you should also keep in mind the size of your bed—for example, a king-size pillow is more appropriate for a king-size bed.
A well-made pillow will last longer and improve your sleep, so it’s certainly worth your while to invest in one that’s high-quality. If you've settled on the type of pillow you want, do some research and read some reviews to find the best one.
In addition to the traditional options out there, there are also specialty pillows you may want to consider, especially if you have certain health conditions or needs. MedCline offers a variety of sleep systems designed to improve the quality of your rest and support your overall health.
Therapeutic Body Pillow: J-shaped pillow that supports the body and promotes spinal alignment. Our therapeutic pillow helps provide relief from neck pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia, pregnancy aches and pains, and more.
Shoulder Relief System: Three-component system that stabilizes and lifts the body to alleviate pressure on the downside shoulder. This reduction in shoulder pressure also makes the Shoulder Relief System a suitable pillow for arm numbness.
If you’ve ever woken up with a strained neck or sore shoulder, feeling like you slept funny, you already know the importance of a good pillow. In fact, the wrong type of pillow can be a detriment not only to the quality of your sleep, but it may also negatively impact your spinal alignment, strain your muscles, and even cause nighttime headaches. With the right type of pillow, you can achieve a better night’s rest and prolong the health of your back, neck, and shoulders.
Of course, what pillow is best for you isn’t necessarily the best type of pillow for everyone. As we briefly discussed above, sleeping posture plays an important role in finding your perfect pillow. To help you find the best pillow for your preferred position, we’ve highlighted some key features in the following section.
The best type of pillow for side-sleepers
High loft to promote neutral spine alignment and alleviate pressure from shoulders.
Firm support will stabilize and keep your head and neck from sinking throughout the night.
Shapeable materialsmay be more comfortable than firm support for some side-sleepers.
The best type of pillow for back-sleepers
Medium lofthelps relieve pressure from the neck and shoulders but isn’t so high that it cranes your neck upwards.
Medium firmnesspillows will keep your head supported and balanced with your spine while also preventing the pillow from flattening throughout the night. If your pillow is too soft, it will start to lose its form when you rest your head on it.
Responds to pressure—materials that adhere to pressure tightly will help hold the head cradled and in neutral contact with the spine.
The best type of pillow for stomach-sleepers
Low loft provides head and neck support without causing the neck to crane upwards, which may cause strain and stiffness.
Soft supportoffers a comfortable, cushy feel but doesn’t cause your neck to be overly propped up above the rest of your body.
Compressible fills,such as a down or down alternative, compress into a lower loft than other firmer materials.
How often should you replace your pillow?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your pillow every 1-2 years. Throughout the night, your pillow absorbs oils, dead skin cells, hair, and moisture, which not only impacts the cleanliness and smell of your pillow, but may also alter its shape and structural integrity. In other words, if you bought a firm pillow, it will absorb these elements night after night, and ultimately, start to shrink, change shape, or offer less and less support.
How do you know when it's time to get a new one? Check for lumps in the padding or batting, and if it's a feather pillow, see if you have to fluff it up to hold your head all the time or if it does it on its own. You can also test your pillow’s integrity by folding it in half to see if it stays that way or regains its shape. If it does not regain it’s shape, it's typically a sign to get a new one.
Your pillow plays an important role in the quality of your sleep and health in general. Use this post as a starting point to find the perfect pillow for your sleeping posture and preferences. For more information on MedCline’s revolutionary sleep solutions, head to our FAQ page or contact us to speak with a Sleep Specialist today.
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more …
Text SHOULDER to+1 (844) 942-0170to learn more and get discounts on our Shoulder Pain Relief System.
MedCline was founded in 2011 by Carl Melcher, M.D, who was a life-long sufferer of GERD. Dr. Melcher wanted to help the millions of GERD patients with a natural treatment alternative utilizing positional therapy. Since development, the Reflux Relief System has been validated in 7 clinical trials. Aiming to help other medical conditions with positional therapy, MedCline has also developed a Shoulder Relief System for those who suffer with chronic shoulder pain at night. Both MedCline Relief Systems are providing much-needed relief for those suffering from nocturnal acid reflux and/or nighttime shoulder pain to get quality, restorative sleep leading to a higher health-related quality of life.