From warm, fluffy down to supportive, pliable memory foam to affordable, machine-washable synthetics, there’s a perfect pillow for every head and every bed.
A good night’s sleep allows your body to rebuild and recharge so that you wake up alert and prepared to meet the day. It’s important to select a pillow you find comfortable, but that also offers appropriate support for your sleeping position.
Other significant factors to consider when making your purchase are pillow size and fill. The right pillow fill can help reduce back pain, neck strain, snoring and discomfort from allergies.
A good night’s sleep allows your body to rebuild and recharge so that you wake up alert and prepared to meet the day.
It’s important to select a pillow you find comfortable, but that also offers appropriate support for your sleeping position.
Types of Bed Pillows
Types of Bed Pillows
Down pillows are filled with the soft feathers found closest to the body on ducks or geese. The natural insulating abilities of these feathers provide warmth and comfort while you sleep.
The cloud-like softness of a down pillow makes it a popular choice for stomach sleepers, as they require a light-support pillow for a comfortable sleep.
When shopping, note the fill-power rating on down pillows. This rating refers to the fill’s loft (fluff factor); the higher the fill power, the loftier or fluffier the pillow.
Feather pillows use the outer layer of goose or duck feathers for their fill. These feathers contain quills (unlike the inner feathers used in down), resulting in a heavier, firmer medium-support pillow suited to back and side sleepers.
A down-and-feather mix is a good option for those who want a natural fill pillow with some of down’s warmth and softness, but at a more affordable price.
Because it conforms to your shape and supports the natural curvature of your spine, a memory foam pillow may help alleviate neck and back pain while sleeping. These dense sponge-like pillows are long lasting and don’t lose their shape, so they won’t need replacing as often as synthetic-fill pillows.
Some varieties of memory foam do tend to retain heat, so keep this in mind if you are inclined to sweat while sleeping.
The most affordable pillow type, synthetic fill pillows are filled with man-made fibres (usually polyester). These pillows are odour free, hypoallergenic and machine washable, making them an easy-care option that you can stock up on inexpensively.
Synthetic fills will not hold their shape as long as natural fills, so be prepared to replace them every 10 to 12 months.
If you enjoy the softness of down but prefer the affordability of synthetics, poly cluster fill pillows are a good alternative. The silicone-coated polyester clusters used to fill these pillows recreates the fluffy comfort of down at a much lower cost.
Poly cluster fill’s hypoallergenic properties may also provide relief for allergy sufferers.
Neck pillows, also referred to as contour pillows, are usually made from memory foam or latex and feature a distinctive “dip” in the middle. This dipped or contoured shape creates a cradle for your neck to help properly align your spine while you’re sleeping on your back.
Because it keeps the neck straight and the airways open, a neck pillow can also improve quality of sleep for would-be snorers (and their spouses).
Gel pillows, also known as microfibre gel or gel fibre pillows, are a budget-friendly, man-made option that mimics the softness, loft and warmth of down pillows.
These pillows are filled with clusters of polyester gel fibre, which has memory moulding properties similar to memory foam. The result is a pillow with a pliable fill that can be scrunched up and adjusted for support where you need it.
Unlike real down, gel pillows are machine washable for easy care.
The standard pillow, which measures 20” by 26,” is the most commonly used bed pillow. Generally, you would use one standard pillow on a twin-sized bed, two on a full or queen-sized bed, and three on a king-sized bed.
When purchasing pillowcases for this pillow, select a standard-size case.
At 20” by 30,” queen-sized pillows are 4” longer than standards, so stuffing them into a standard pillowcase makes for a more full and fluffy looking pillow.
Placed side by side, two queen pillows will nicely fit a queen bed. Queen pillows can also be used one to a twin bed, two to a double bed and three to a king bed.
Extra long to match the royal scale of a king-sized bed, king pillows measure in at 20” by 36.” Two king pillows placed side by side provides even coverage across a king bed.
While this size of pillow can be aesthetically pleasing, you may find it to be too long to actually sleep on comfortably. If so, you can make your king bed with three standard-sized pillows instead.
To cover a king pillow, purchase a king-size pillowcase.
For the ultimate in support, cuddle up with a 20” by 54” body pillow. These long pillows contour to your body shape, encouraging proper spinal alignment when sleeping on your side.
Pregnant women, in particular, may benefit from a body pillow’s ability to cradle the stomach and relieve pressure from the spine, providing a good night’s rest.
Cover with a body pillow pillowcase.
Pillow buying and maintenance tips:
- Back sleepers should look for medium-support pillows to help maintain the natural curvature of the spine.
- Side sleepers should look for pillows with gussets that contour and cradle the neck.
- Stomach sleepers should look for extra soft pillows that keep the head at a natural angle.
- Use a pillow protector to preserve pillow shape and reduce the frequency of washings.
- Follow washing directions on your pillow’s care tag; note that some pillows are dry-clean only.
- Add a clean tennis ball to dryer when drying pillows to retain their loftiness.
- Dry pillows completely to prevent mould from growing.
- Replace pillows when they lose shape, leak fill or develop holes or stains.