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Got a Pain in the Neck? How to Choose the Right Pillow

woman sleeping on pillow

As nearly 70% of Americans struggle with sleep at least sporadically, it’s important for them all to have what they need to succeed. If you don’t know how to choose a pillow to make sleeping easier, you could be filling your bedroom with obstacles rather than aids to getting good sleep.

The right pillows can make all the difference when you’re trying to stay soundly asleep through a healthy number of REM cycles.

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a pillow.

How Do You Sleep?

Your preferred sleeping position matters when it comes to choosing a pillow. Most people sleep on their back, but others choose their side or their stomach.

Your position matters when considering a pillow so make sure its the right fit based on your sleeping position otherwise you may not experience the best nights rest.

Here is what we recommend based on sleep position:

back adn side sleeper pillowStomach sleepers:  As a stomach sleeper, you most likely need less support.  Consider a pillow with low-loft. In other words, find a pillow with a low profile that lies fairly flat on your mattress.  This will keep you from hyper-extending your neck.  Some stomach sleepers even prefer no pillow at all.

Back sleepers:  As a back sleeper you for certain want to focus on the natural curve of your neck. We recommend you consider a pillow with medium firmness.  Choose a pillow where the height is lower then if you slept on your side. You can even use a pillow under your knees to experience additional back support.

A great pillow for back sleepers is the Bedgear Balance 1.0.  This pillow is a self-leveling fit pillow.

Side sleepers:  As a side sleeper, you probably are one that prefers a firmer pillow.  A firm pillow allows you to maintain the curve of your neck and head, allowing them to stay in proper alignment.  Consider a soft latex pillow or even an orthopedic pillow like a memory foam pillow, both of which don’t shift or clump as much as others. all position pillow

All-position sleepers:  Then there are those that sleep in multiple positions.  And the good news is, they make a pillow for these types of sleepers.  For instance, the BedGear BG-X All Position Pillow has a custom-blended fill in dynamic support inner baffle construction. It’s sleep-tested for a conforming body fit.

If you aren’t sure which sleep position you prefer best:

Spend a few nights figuring out which position works for you. While you might think you know how you sleep, consider how you wake up each day. If you wake up on your back but with a crick in your neck, maybe try sleeping on your side the next night.

When it’s time for bed, try out a few different positions. If you spend half an hour on your side without falling asleep, that’s probably not the position for you.

Learn About The Types of Pillow Fillings

There is a wide variety of filling types in pillows. People with allergies deal with all kinds of issues when considering materials for clothing or bedding. Each type of filling has its costs and benefits.

Medical issues should be your first consideration when picking a filling. Asthma, allergies, or neck pain should come into play when it comes to your pillow. Some people need a hypoallergenic pillow type that’s dust mite-proof.

You should also think about cost as some fillings are more expensive. Natural fillings are more expensive than synthetics, but synthetics might not give you the comfort you need.

There are several types of fillings to consider:

latex pillow filling

Pillows with Latex

Latex pillows are elastic and resilient in ways that other pillows simply aren’t. These are great for people who deal with allergies or want to avoid mold. The sap of rubber trees creates latex and protects the plant from lots of things, including mold and other growth.

Latex pillows are often much cooler than memory foam and ensure that you have lots of comfort in the summer. They form to fit the shape of your head and neck, allowing for an extremely comfortable sleep.  And because latex pillows are natural, they retain their shape very well.

These pillows can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and consistencies. They’re available for any kind of sleeper out there. Whether they use shredded material or solid cores, you’ll find they have a lot of stability.

Along with that stability comes to cost and weight. Make sure these pillows are right for you before you invest.

One of the more popular latex pillows is the Rejuvenate Talalay LatexDown High Profile Pillow.  It works best for back and side sleepers. It’s also cooler than down and naturally resistant to dust mites and allergens!

Pillows with Cotton & Wool

Using wool or cotton pillows can be good if you don’t want to deal with allergies. These pillows are far less likely to cause or stimulate any allergy issues. Wool and cotton don’t cause mites or mold, which makes them a great choice for a lot of reasons.

Wool and cotton pillows are typically very firm, which is great for people who need that kind of pillow. Stomach sleepers tend to rely on these pillows the most as they maintain their shape throughout a lot of use.

If you’re looking for a pillow that’s hypoallergenic and thin enough for you, you can find a wide variety of sizes of cotton.

memory foam pillow filling

Pillows with Memory Foam 

When you want a consistent sleep night after night, memory foam is a smart choice. These pillows come in a huge range of sizes and shapes. They even come in large s-shaped forms to support side sleepers.

They offer a great amount of support for people with problems in their head and neck. Whether you want to support your neck, shoulder, or jaws, you’ll find that memory foam is a smart choice.

These pillows are resilient and last for a long time. They form to the changing contours of your body, head, and neck over time.

Getting a high-density version is smart if you want to keep your material interact for a long time. High-density memory foam doesn’t breathe, so sleepers who need to stay cool should beware. Also, the scent of a memory foam pillow can linger for a few weeks, so make sure you’re okay with that smell before you invest.

Pillows with Feather & Down

If you’re comfortable with pillows made from the inner plumage of geese or ducks, you could end up with a high-quality pillow. You get lots of loft from these pillows, making them perfect for side sleepers.

Most down pillows last 10 years or more with lots of breathability and resilience.  Down and feather pillows are quite different. Down is light and soft while feathers are harder and contain quills. Cheap feather pillows could end up poking you during your sleep.

There’s not a lot of evidence around allergy or asthma studies related to these pillows, but some people don’t like them. They claim they can exacerbate allergies. People who want to avoid them because of their ethical or personal reasons find that the synthetic versions are just as good.

A good choice to consider is a down alternative pillow such as the Luxurelle 230 TC Down Alternative Pillow.

This pillow offers both value and quality and includes 230 thread cambric cotton shell, is double-needed stitched with cotton cording and is soft-medium in firmness.

No Matter, Make Certain To Read Reviews

If you’re one of the nearly 85% of people who trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends, then consider reading reviews. There are lots of people who share whatever sleep concerns you have. They’ve been through it before and can help you figure out which might work for you.

Read some reviews before you go shopping, especially if you’re looking at a specialty pillow. Some pillows can make all kinds of claims about what they can do to keep you cool or to keep you from snoring. These pillows might cost an arm and a leg and do none of what you want them to do.

Go into the situation informed and don’t let prices make your decision. While it might seem like you get what you pay for, the most expensive pillow might not be right for you.

trying pillow in retail store

Try It Out

If you are shopping in a retail store, try to lie down and see how the pillow feels. Getting your head against it can tell you how it really feels. Getting a more realistic idea of whether or not the pillow is right for you is simple when you actually lie down with it.

If you can’t lie down, try standing next to a wall with it. You can lean your head on it and see what works.

Put the pillow against the wall and lean in your favorite position. If the pillow fits your body, your neck should be aligned with your spine. While it’s hard to tell if this works, ask a sales associate or a friend to help.

Knowing How to Choose a Pillow Is Vital

Bottom line is if you don’t know how to choose a pillow, you’re more likely to make arbitrary decisions about choosing one. Knowing what your body needs and what feels good should be matched with what is healthiest. Choosing the right pillow will change your life and have you waking up happier each day.

If you need a supportive mattress for back pain in Beloit or abroad, check out our guide.  Feel free to also chat with us online or drop into a local store as we’d love to help you find the perfect pillow.

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Dig even deeper by downloading our Mattress Buying Guide or our How to Experience The Best Sleep Guide to improve your sleep.

The Ultimate Mattress Buying GuideHow to Experience The Best Sleep. A Sleep Guide For Every Age Group.

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