A great day begins with a great night of sleep, and the pillow you choose affects the quality of your sleep. The right pillow helps maintain the alignment of your head, neck and shoulders. The ideal height will support your neck and keep it from bending at an unnatural angle. While the wrong pillow is not likely to cause significant problems, it can worsen some discomforts, such as headaches, shoulder and neck pain, numbness in the arms, and breathing difficulties like snoring and wheezing.
To choose a pillow that aligns your head properly, it is important to consider your primary sleep position. The best pillow for stomach sleepers is one that is very thin and nearly flat. BioSense makes a slim-profile pillow that is designed just for you.
Pillows are filled with many different types of materials, including foam, polyester fiberfill, memory foam, latex, buckwheat hulls, wool/cotton combinations and down/feather combinations. While side and back sleepers need firm support, stomach sleepers should be very soft. Foam, latex, and cotton/wool combinations are all quite firm and so are not the best choices. Down/feather combinations are very soft while still providing some support. Down/feather fill can be moved around within the casing to provide support where you need it and leave other areas flatter for more comfort.
What The Experts Say
Although most experts agree that down/feather combinations are generally safe for people with allergies, there are synthetic down options for those who are concerned. Cuddledown and Primaloft are two well-known brands of synthetic down fill. Synthetic down is as comfortable as natural down and provides the same level of support. However, synthetic down does not last as long, so pillows will need to be replaced more often.
The Buckwheat Choice
Buckwheat Pillow hull is another option for pillow filling, found in brands such as Sobakawa and Zen Chi. One benefit of this type of pillow is that the firmness can be adjusted by adding or removing buckwheat hulls. Because sleepers can customize the fill of this pillow, it works well for all types of sleepers. The pillows can be heavy and somewhat noisy, due to the shifting of the buckwheat hulls inside the case.
Reversible pillows are also available, such as the one offered by Sleep Innovations. These 2-in-1 pillows feature a firm side, usually made of foam or memory foam, which is best for back or side sleepers. The other side is a softer fiberfill, best for stomach sleepers. These pillows are a good choice for people who sleep in different positions and need to alternate the firmness of their pillow.
Some sleepers find it comfortable to place a second pillow under the stomach. In order to keep the spine naturally aligned, this pillow should also be very thin, but firmer than the head pillow. A third pillow under the ankles provides additional spinal support.
Pillow covers are usually made of cotton or a cotton blend. It is a good idea to put the entire pillow in a zippered protector case. These cases are hypoallergenic and waterproof to protect the cover and the fill inside. Zippered protector cases are easy to remove and launder regularly, which lengthens the life of your pillow.
While it is important to consider height, fill, and cover material when choosing your pillow consider the one that is the most comfortable. A pillow that allows your head to rest comfortably and prevents soreness in your neck and shoulders is a good choice. The pillow that lets you sleep deeply and wake refreshed is the best.