Buying Guides

Pillow Buying Guide

Young woman in bed

Pillows have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. The wrong size or shape can leave you with neck pain, while an older pillow can aggravate allergies. Remember: your head goes directly on your pillow every night—which means it inevitably absorbs things like sweat and drool over time. As such, you should probably be replacing it more frequently than you might expect. The National Sleep Foundation recommends buying a new pillow every 18 months.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look for your next pillow:
Size & Shape

The first thing to consider when looking for a new pillow is how you naturally sleep. The purpose of your pillow is to hold your head and neck squarely in line with your spine throughout the night—and that means each sleep position has different support needs.

  • Side sleepers: look for taller, slightly firmer pillows that will fit snugly in the space between the ear and the end of the shoulder.
  • Back sleepers: look for a slightly shorter pillow that cradles the head.
  • Stomach sleepers: look for a flatter, softer pillow that does not crane the neck back.
Materials

Pillows come in many different materials, each of which offers unique comfort feels and benefits.

  • Down: softer, more mutable  (Note: if you have allergies, you should avoid down materials as they can aggravate your symptoms)
  • Memory Foam: firmer, molds to your head
  • Latex Foam: bouncier, cradles your head
  • Shredded Foam: softer, contours to your head
  • Polyester Fiber: flatter, less springy
Special Features

Once you find the right shape and material, you can explore different comfort options based on your specific sleep habits and needs.

  • If you sleep hot: look for cooling technologies like temperature regulating fabrics, phase change materials and gel foam
  • If you have trouble relaxing for bed: look for soothing aromatherapy infusions
  • If you snore or wake up with a stuffy nose: look for anti-allergen treatments, washable options and products that tout greater airflow