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How To Find the Right Bed Pillow

by Nick, Digital Specialist | June 22, 2021

Getting a new mattress is only part of the equation- the pillow you choose is an important part of your whole sleep system. But there are so many options...how do you choose the right one?


Contrary to popular belief, your mattress isn’t the only source of comfort when you go to bed. If you’ve ever slept with the wrong bed pillow, you know how important it is to make sure you have the right one! The wrong pillow can lead to stiff necks, a poor quality of sleep, and more. The solution is generally not the first- or the cheapest- option you’ll find. It might take a little work to find the right pillow for you, but it’ll be worth it when you finally get that restful, restorative sleep you’ve been searching for.

What is your pillow’s role? Its job is to support your head and neck area- a crucial area when it comes to comfort- by keeping your spine in alignment with the rest of your body. The ideal pillow will keep your ears aligned with your shoulders- it won’t lean your head too far backwards or forwards towards your chest- and will also keep your chin in line with your sternum so your neck isn’t bent in one direction or the other.

But how do you find this delicate balance? If it were easy, we probably wouldn’t be writing an article about it! The biggest thing to consider is what position you sleep in:

On your back: Imagine trying to sleep flat on your back without a pillow. Doesn’t sound very comfortable, right? You’d probably be looking at the ceiling at a very bizarre and awkward angle. Your pillow’s job as a back sleeper is to prop your head up just the right amount (remember, ears aligned with your shoulders). But it is possible to take it too far- imagine trying to fall asleep with your chin tucked into your chest.

Back sleepers are going to want to look for a pillow that’s a medium thickness, but if you have broader shoulders you’ll need something a little thicker. Conversely, if you have very narrow shoulders, you can get away with something a little thinner. You’ll also want to make sure it’s firm enough that it won’t sag throughout the night, so you don’t wake up with your neck in a different spot than when you woke up.

On your side: Most of the population sleeps on their side, so if you’re reading this article, chances are you fall into this category. Imagine yourself lying on your side on your mattress, and holding your head so your spine is straight with the rest of your body. There’s an empty spot in between your ear and the mattress, and that spot is what you need to fill with a pillow.

The pillow you choose is going to depend largely on how broad your shoulders are. If you’re an average size, then a pillow with a medium thickness should be fine- but if you have particularly broad shoulders you’ll need a thicker pillow, and if you have narrow shoulders you can get away with a thinner one. However, make sure you find one that’s on the firmer side- something that’s too soft might cause your head to sag during the night.


On your stomach: Generally speaking, sleeping on your stomach is the worst sleeping position for your body, as it causes you to turn and bend in positions that are not natural and don’t allow your body to align. But that’s a topic for another article! When it comes to pillows, some stomach sleepers prefer to sleep without a pillow at all. However, those that do want a pillow usually like the thinnest one possible- anything too tall will lift your head too high and throw everything out of whack. You’ll also want to find something that is soft- when most people sleep on their stomachs, they wrap their hands under the pillow like they’re giving it a hug, so a softer pillow is more conducive to that position.

Here are a few other features you might want to look for:

- Cooling features: many pillows have design elements that make them feel cooler when you lay on them. They are usually designed to pull the warm air away from your body and allow it to escape through vents in your pillow. This is great if you are one of the many people in the world who sleep hot.

- Moisture wicking: this is a little different than the cooling features listed above. Pillows can be made of certain materials such as Tencel, polyester, and bamboo, which are designed to pull moisture away from your body. If you’re prone to sweating at night or going through a change such as menopause, this is a great feature to look for.

- Shape: most bed pillows have a basic rectangular shape but you’ll find some with a notch cut out of the bottom side. This is designed mainly for side sleepers- that notch fits into your shoulder and can help add some support to your head and neck area.

One very common question we get: what if I sleep in multiple positions? Great question! If you toss and turn at night, or fall asleep in one position and wake up in another, you might have a tough time figuring out which “position” applies to you. It might be a little tricky to use this guide (or the problem might be with your mattress!), but whatever position you woke up in would be a good place to start.

Sweet dreams!