It’s often the pillows that really define your sleeping experience. If your pillows are too hard or too flat, you may find yourself tossing and turning to try to get into a comfortable position.
Pillows play a huge role in how you sleep every night, but they also require some upkeep if you’re going to have a healthy sleeping experience. Read on to learn more about the best types of pillow for your sleeping habits as well as some important pillow care advice.
There’s no such thing as the best type of pillow. It all depends entirely on your sleeping habits. Are you a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper? Do you have allergies or suffer from back pain? All these little quirks will have an impact on your sleeping experience and will affect the type of pillow you’ll need.
It's not an ideal sleeping position in the first place, but if you really can’t change your stomach sleeping habits, you can at least get the right pillow to minimise any tension in your neck or spine.
A soft and flat pillow is what you’re after. It will help you keep your neck in line with your spine. Even better, try going without a pillow altogether.
Back sleepers need a pillow of medium thickness. Go too thick and you’ll be pushing your head forward. Too soft and you’ll be sinking into the mattress. You need something that supports the natural curve in your spine.
To support your neck while you’re sleeping on your side, you’ll need a thick, firm pillow. A pillow with plenty of loft, such as a down or feather-filled pillow, is better for side sleepers. A memory foam pillow might work wonders for this sleeping position.
Toss about a lot? That makes it tricky to choose the perfect pillow for your needs. Start with a pillow of medium thickness and softness to work in all positions.
Some people find that pillows made with down or feather filling can exacerbate allergies. Avoid natural pillows in favour of synthetic versions that could be kinder on your allergies.
Look out for pillows that are labelled hypoallergenic; hollow fibre pillows and latex pillows do a good job deterring dust mists.
If you experience strain in your back as you sleep, try slipping a pillow either beneath your knees if you’re a back sleeper, or between them if you’re a side sleeper. Doing so will naturally bring your spine into a more comfortable, supported position.
If you wake up with neck pain, it’s possible you’re using the wrong pillow for your sleeping position. Pay attention to how you sleep and then look at our recommendations for the right pillow for your sleeping habits.
It seems to be the golden standard to have two pillows on your bed per sleeper. And yet this isn’t actually the healthiest option for your sleep. The best sleeping position is one that keeps your neck, head and spine in a neutral position - and the only way you’re going to achieve this is with one pillow.
A natural fill pillow is stuffed with feathers, down (fluffy insulation under feathers) or both. These types of pillows are usually very soft and offer comfort by conforming to your head and neck.
Synthetic pillows contain man-made fibres like polyester, often making them a bit cheaper than feather pillows but with shorter life spans. Synthetic pillows are the natural alternative for allergy sufferers, but do not generally offer quite the same support for back and neck.
As the name suggests, foam pillows are made using some form of foam. The more expensive foam pillows are generally made from memory foam, which molds to your head and neck for a brilliant night’s sleep.
Considering you spend about a third of your day with your head resting on your pillow, it’s naturally going to accumulate a fair amount of dirt, even with a pillowcase over it.
You should wash your pillows every 6 months to ensure they stay pristine white and free from dust mites and other nasty germs.
Most pillows can be washed in the washing machine, although it’s always best to check the care instructions on the pillow itself - some pillow fabrics or fillers can be damaged in the washing machine.
Even better, your pillows can also be dried in the dryer - in fact, it’s a great way to restore the fluffy, cloud-like feeling of your pillows (but more on that below!).
Even with a pillowcase on your pillow, your sweat can seep through to the pillow itself. Yellowing pillows might also be the result of moisture or chemicals from beauty products.
Thankfully, it is possible to whiten your pillows again by washing and treating them. The steps for machine washable pillows are as follows:
Spot treat stains with a typically stain removal spray or a paste of baking soda and water. Throw your pillow in the washing machine.
Add the usual amount of laundry detergent, along with half a cup (or less) of bleach AND borax.
Wash in a regular cycle with hot water.
Air dry your pillows in the sun for best results.
We love the fluffiness of brand new pillows, yet all too soon, they seem to lose that cloud-like feeling. So how do you get them back into shape? Actually, there are few tricks you can try to see which one works best for you.
For a start, simply try grabbing either end of your pillow and pumping it up and down. This can often be enough to bring a bit of volume back into it.
If that fails, tie up a tennis ball or two in a clean pillowcase and throw them along with your pillow into a dryer to spin together on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure your pillows can go in the dryer first though!
Air dry your pillows regularly. Just lay them on a table or drape them over your clothesline, and every so often, fluff them up and flip them. This helps get rid of the moisture that accumulates in your pillow. It will also do wonders bringing about a fresh smell in your bedding.
Your old pillows accumulate dead skin, body oils and dust mites over time. The inner filling will also eventually break down. So you’re going to want to replace it at some point, though few people do so as regularly as they should!
If your pillow is showing visible signs of lumps or bumps - or perhaps even a dent where you lay your head - it’s a good indication it’s time to replace it. Yellow sweat stains are also a good indication that it’s time to change your pillow.
You can also test your non-foam pillows with a folding test. Simply fold your pillow in half; if it doesn’t spring back to its original, flat shape, it’s time to upgrade.
In general, cheaper polyester pillows should be replaced every 6 months, while memory foam pillows or other styles with more structural integrity can last anywhere from 18 to 36 months.