This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Four steps to picking the perfect pillow
While a “bad” shouldn’t any health problems, it could problems that already exist, like any headaches, neck pain, shoulder or arm numbness, and even sneezing and wheezing. If you suffer from any of the above, or if your pillow is more than about two years old, it’s probably time to buy a new one.
While a “bad” pillow shouldn’t cause any health problems, it could worsen problems that already exist, like any headaches, neck pain, shoulder or arm numbness, and even sneezing and wheezing. If you suffer from any of the above, or if your pillow is more than about two years old, it’s probably time to buy a new one.
How to Find the Perfect Pillow
A good pillow should provide you with strong support and keep your spine in alignment. Consider the following when you’re in the market for a new place to rest your head.
- Filler Material: If you suffer from allergies, always check the pillow packaging to read what type of pillow it is. Most pillows made with polyester fiber or polyurethane are hypoallergenic, along with some of the buckwheat hull and memory-foam options. And remember that each filler has a different feel. For example, you may prefer the softness of a down pillow to the stiffness of memory foam.
- Size: Pillows come in all different sizes (common ones usually include small, medium, large/standard, queen, or king). While most people use the size of their bed to determine which pillow they get, it’s also important to consider body size. What length, width, and thickness is most appropriate for your body? Your neck naturally curves forward in order to support the weight of your head, and it’s best to maintain that same curve while your body is in the resting position, as well. As such, pillows that are too high when you’re sleeping sideways or on your back can cause your neck to bend abnormally, which may result in muscle strain the neck and shoulders.
- Temperature: While it’s not been scientifically proven, some users insist that memory-foam pillows retain body heat, and are therefore less comfortable for use during hotter months.
- Preferred Sleep Position: If you sleep on your back, you need a pillow that isn't too firm or too high. When sleeping, your neck should be supported, while your head stays level with your upper back and spine. Are you a side sleeper? Then you need a pillow that melds to the shape of your neck and keeps your head high enough to keep your spine aligned. For stomach-sleepers, slim pillows (or none at all) can be used for under the head, and a flat pillow under the hips may also help.
Whatever your personal preference, don’t by shy to try to the pillow out in the store before purchasing it.