Different Types of Pillows – Which One’s Right for Me?

Good quality sleep is essential for the body to heal itself from the postural, physical and nervous insults of the day. One way to help ensure a sound sleep is to find the perfect pillow. Everybody is different and certain pillows suit certain types, so how do you know which one is right for you?

A good place to start is to determine what kind of sleeper you are. Do you roll around at night or do you settle on your back, side or stomach? Here are some of the main sleeping positions, and the pillows that suit:

Back sleeper: Back sleepers will need a medium level of support from their pillow, ensuring the head, neck and shoulders are supported during sleep. A thin memory foam mattress that doesn’t tilt the head too far forward is recommended.

Side sleeper: A side sleeper will require a pillow that contours and cradles the neck, keeping the body in a straight horizontal line. Natural filled and poly cluster pillows work best, but some memory foam pillows can work well too.

Stomach sleeper: It’s important as a stomach sleeper that the pillow you use if soft and that it is comfortable to lay your head without having to turn it to an awkward position. You may even be better placing a thin, soft pillow under your stomach rather than your head. Fluffy down or a poly cluster pillow will suit best.

Once you have determined the kind of sleeper you are, you can then move on to the size and style of pillow that will work for you:

Contour pillow: A contour pillow can help relieve neck pain and stiffness and help alleviate headaches. The pillow should be flat, to keep your head in its natural position during sleep and fill the spaces between your head and shoulders.

Knee pillow: A pillow can be placed between the knees during sleep and prevents the knees from coming together, keeping the spine level. Without the use of a knee pillow, the pelvis of side sleepers tends to be pulled down, distorting the natural line of the spine. For back sleepers, placing a knee pillow under the back of the knees can reduce the pressure on the lower back, resulting in a more comfortable sleep. This is particularly recommended for anybody suffering lower back problems. Look for a firm knee pillow for the best support.

Body pillow: Some people may find that using one long pillow is more comfortable than using separate pillows for the head and knees when sleeping on their side. A body pillow also offers good support for pregnant women, but it’s important not to throw your leg over the top of the pillow, which can twist the lower spine.

Travel pillows: When sleeping in an upright position, a ‘U’ shaped travel pillow can be used to support the neck. A travel pillow prevents the head from tilting too far forward or to the side and takes the pressure off the muscles being used to keep the head up.

Finally, find out what sort of pillow stuffing will send you off to sleep the best:

Memory foam: Memory foam continuously moulds to the body, changing as you move in your sleep. It offers great support, but the material can make sleepers hot. Some users have also complained of an unpleasant odour emitting from the foam.

Latex: Latex resists mould and dust mites, but is recommended for those who like a very firm pillow only. When contoured correctly, a latex pillow can help with back and neck alignment.

Down or feather: Down pillows move as you do, meaning they are one of the most highly recommended forms of stuffing. Down pillows feel soft, yet offer support where it’s needed and pillows are warm in winter, yet cool in summer. 50% down and 50% feather offers both comfort and support.

Wool or cotton: Wool and cotton pillows tend to be very firm but are good for those sensitive to allergens.

Finding the right pillow should be more than just finding a pillow to suit your budget. Pillows are designed to suit specific needs, so do some research and try before you buy when possible.
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