Soft down, firm memory foam, supportive buckwheat hulls — your choice of pillow can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and hours of tossing and turning. A pillow with too much loft and firmness could force your neck to crane out of position all night, so you wake up feeling tired and sore. A pillow with too little support could have the same effect. But how do you choose the right pillow?
It’s important to choose a luxury pillow made with the highest quality ingredients, but you also need to consider your sleeping style and preferences. The firmness and loft you need from a pillow depends on whether you sleep on your stomach, back, side, or all three. Here’s how to choose the right size, firmness, loft, and materials in a luxury pillow.
Why should you spend the extra money on a luxury pillow in the first place? Why not buy any old pillow?
Well, first of all, the cheap materials used in most pillows won’t last long. The average pillow lasts about two years, but most people use them longer than that. It’s fine to keep using your pillow as long as it still offers you the support you need, and you’re using a hypoallergenic pillow cover to keep dust mites out, but cheap pillows will break down structurally quickly and you’ll end up either spending much more in the long run to buy pillows much more often, or you’ll spend months or years suffering from muscle aches and pains and poor sleep due to a bad pillow. You could even end up both throwing your money away to replace cheap pillows every six months, and sleeping on bad pillows that cause sleep disturbances and pain. And your sleep is important — in fact, it’s an essential ingredient in your health and happiness.
The quality of your sleep isn’t the only concern you should have about cheap pillows. Cheap pillows, especially memory foam pillows, may be made with toxic petroleum products. The polyurethane and synthetic latex found in many cheap pillows releases volatile organic compounds (VoCs) into the air inside your home. These toxic chemicals could even cause respiratory and skin complaints, major organ damage, and neurological symptoms. Luxury pillows are made with organic and all-natural ingredients that are chemical-free, and, often, naturally flame retardant, antibacterial, and antifungal.
Sleeping position is the most important consideration when you’re shopping for a pillow, because it will determine the firmness and loft you need, as well as the pillow size (standard, queen, or king).
If you sleep on your side, you need a supportive pillow that will cushion your head and keep your cervical spine in alignment all night long. Side sleepers tend to need the most supportive pillows. Memory foam pillows have been the traditional choice for side sleepers, due to their firmness, but natural latex foam is the safer, all-natural option. Natural latex foam doesn’t realize toxic VoCs, it’s hypoallergenic as long as you keep a fabric cover over it, and it’s naturally resistant to dust mites. Buckwheat hull pillows are also a good choice for side sleepers, especially if you sleep hot. Buckwheat hulls have a cooling effect, and they shift position with your movements to offer firm, body-hugging support.
If you sleep on your stomach, you should choose a down or kapok pillow. Down refers to the small, fluffy layer of feathers closest to a bird’s skin, and it makes for some of the finest pillow stuffing. Premium down is made only with the small, fluffy down feathers, so it’s softest, while feather-down contains regular feathers too, and is firmer (it can also poke you in the face, since the large feathers are sharp). Kapok, or silk cotton, is a hypoallergenic alternative with many of the same qualities as down. Both types of pillows are soft and squishy enough to provide the minimal support a stomach sleeper needs, but if you sleep on your stomach, you should consider sleeping with a queen- or king-sized pillow under your entire torso and hips to take pressure off your lower back.
Back sleepers can also use down or kapok pillows, but a standard size pillow is sufficient. When sleeping on your back, choose a soft, squishy pillow that supports your head while maintaining your spinal alignment.
You need your rest, and the right pillow can help you get it. Choose a pillow made with high-quality, luxury materials and start getting the sleep you need and deserve.