It's happened, its time, you’ve finally seen the end of your old flat pillows and had enough of waking up sore from neck to back, un-rested and moody. You have decided to purchase some new pillows and are certain that you want pillows that will provide maximum comfort, promote better sleep patterns and improve posture.
You may not know this but pillow shopping is a very technical and very personal experience. In the same way Papa Bear liked his bed hard as a rock and Mama Bear liked her bed soft and fluffy, everyone has different preferences and requirements. I’ve just recently left my ‘cheapest is best’ attitude behind, mostly because my neck, back and sleep (or lack thereof I should say) have been suffering more than usual. I hadn’t realised it was my sleeping arrangement until I got a new bed and suddenly I was sleeping all through the night. Once your back feels better it really gives you that kick you need to chuck out the old rock sacks (pillows) and find some proper neck-saving ones.
Pillows are just that little bit more difficult to purchase compared to other bedding. When you buy a pillow you have to consider more than just feel and warmth, like you would with a quilt, sleeping on the wrong or bad pillow can really affect your posture and well-being. Ever stay in a hotel bed and wake up tired and sore from a restless night of tossing and turning? Or the complete opposite? The best sleep you’ve ever had! That must be why its 5 stars!
The secret to 5 star sleep with the right pillow
First you have to figure out your sleeping position. Understanding how you sleep is important because it can help you determine whether your new pillows should either be firm, medium, soft or hard. Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper front sleeper or do you toss and turn a lot?
Side sleepers need neck support, back sleepers need neck and head, and front sleepers need enough leverage so they don't suffocate into the pillow (I’ve never understood front sleeping). If you move around so much in your sleep that you couldn’t say what position you prefer it means one of two things. You’re either unable to stay comfortable in any position, in which case you probably need a new bed and pillows. Otherwise you are an ambidextrous sleeper and a restful sleep means you start out in one position and wake up upside down on the opposite end of the bed – trust us it’s possible.
If you’re someone who sleeps on their side, consider buying a standard synthetic pillow. However, if you’re someone who snoozes predominantly on their back, you might want to consider getting a feather pillow as they’re not too firm and allow for easier breathing. Front or tummy sleepers will need a softer or low-fill pillow.
Choosing the perfect pillow
Memory Foam - A synthetic material often made from polyurethane. Could be described in a way that when you lie on it you literally sink into it. Of course not to the point where you’re hitting the bed, it’s not jelly, but you do sink in and the memory foam will mould to the back of your neck and head. Often they are recommended to back and side sleepers because their moulding function offers good support.
Micro beads - Similar to memory foam, micro bead pillows mould to the shape of your head. Serving the function of making the sleeping position you’re in more natural to the body. Again, like the memory foam pillow, it takes stress off the neck. They can be made of plastic beads or naturally grown and harvested buckwheat hulls, a drawback of bead filled pillows is that they do not return to their original shape unlike memory foam pillows. These types of pillows are quite popular in Japan, often you’ll find them in the hotels when staying there.
Contour - A contour pillow is made in a wave shape to match the shape of your neck and head. The middle of the pillow curves down to provide support for the head. They can be made from memory foam for further comfort and support. Contour pillows can also alleviate snoring because of the way the head is supported during sleep - it opens the airways and provides an unobstructed breathing position while also improving your posture. They are however not designed for those who sleep on their stomachs.
Latex - Latex pillows are made from latex rubber harvested from rubber tress often originating from Southeast Asia. They are fantastic for people who suffer from allergies, severe neck pain and back pain. They’re also really long lasting, resist mould and mildew, insect resistant (so dust mites can’t make these pillows home), non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals. Latex pillows mould to your head and neck under your weight for a very cushy sleeping surface. They can be more costly however.
Down - If you are a front sleeper you’re going to need a very soft pillow. As far as softness goes there is nothing more soft than a down filled pillow. They can be made with duck, goose or other water fowl. These pillows are washable, long lasting and lighter than feather. They are on the expensive side and they require a lot of shaking and fluffing to maintain freshness.
Feather - Similar to down filled pillows, feather filled pillows are soft and fluffy, though not as much as down filled ones; they offer a comfortable and slightly cheaper alternative to down. Again they require shaking and fluffing, and feather quills can be uncomfortable while sleeping. Also good to note that the support in a feather pillow may not last as well as others as they tend to sink in further during the night.
Cotton - 100% pure, natural and absorbent, they are firmer and flatter than down and feather pillows. They do flatten over time, don’t offer contouring to the neck and the back of the head, and because cotton retains moisture they can become mouldy or have dust mites if not cleaned often.
Polyester - A cheaper option to cotton and also a lot easier to care for and maintain. Polyester filled pillows are very difficult to tear, and are washable. They do score low when it comes to ventilation, neck support, and repelling dust mites. But if you’re looking for something cheap, easy and that will last for longer, polyester might be for you.
Other considerations while buying pillows
Do you suffer from allergies? Are you a snorer? There are plenty of pillow options out there to overcome these problems, and in this day and age a pillow for every ailment can be found.
Although most feather and down pillows have their fillings processed in order to minimise allergic reactions, for those who are severely allergic or suffer from asthma, it's best to stick to a hypoallergenic filling, synthetic fillings or pillows like polyester, latex, memory foam or microfibre. There are also pillows specifically designed to prevent snoring. Memory foam pillows cut into contour shapes are the perfect combination of support and comfort, and they react to your sleeping shape to offer the best support every night for your neck and posture.
Getting restful sleep is your justification for a great purchase. But if you want to keep within a budget, a good quality synthetic will do the trick. When it comes to a good sleep personally I spare no expense especially if I know that a specific pillow is all I need to get the best sleep.
Ensure you understand the basics of what is inside each pillow and combine that with your personal preference in sleeping position. These factors can aid you in making the right decision for your next set of pillows. Keep in mind that a poor budget doesn’t mean a poor night’s sleep when there are so many pillow options to choose from and with varying price ranges at Canningvale.