The Ultimate Guide to Your Perfect Pillow

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

You think a lot about how much to sleep and carefully consider your mattress, but have you really thought about your pillow lately? After all, you get cozy with it every night so you need to make sure it’s the right one for you (we’re only talking about pillows, but feel free to apply this advice to other, more romantic areas as well). Read on for our ultimate guide.

Tell us about you:

• I’m a side sleeper: If you curl up on your side at night, you need a firm pillow with plenty of loft to keep your head aligned with your spine. The idea is to fill in the open space between your ear and your shoulder so you can rest your head comfortably.

• I sleep on my back: Look for a slightly softer, thinner pillow that won’t push your head too far forward (a common cause of neck pain). Ask your partner to look at you from the side —everything should be on an even plain — from the top of your head to your shoulders.

• I’m a stomach sleeper: There’s no rule that says you need a pillow at all, dear stomach sleepers, but if you do want a little cushioning, make sure it’s very thin. You certainly don’t want to be arching your neck all night so if you feel any tension, try going without to keep things (your spine) straight.

It’s what’s inside that counts:

The stuffing you pick for your pillow is also important. Let’s break it down.

Feathers (down): A classic. Down is very soft so it’s great for stomach sleepers but allergy-sufferers beware, down can contain dander and set off your sneezing.

Down Alternative/Polyfill: This soft, man-made alternative filler is less expensive than down and hypoallergenic to boot but also tends to clump and lump more easily, so there are a few trade offs here. It’s fine for all types of sleepers (depending on loft).

Wool: Wool fill can be a little more expensive but it’s great for regulating temperature and will wick away moisture from your head. It’s also resistant to mold and mildew and will keep its shape so the investment will pay off.

Cotton: A great budget option that provides plenty of medium support (great for back sleepers) but cotton fill does compress over time, so this option may need replacing a little sooner than most. Bonus: it’s machine washable!

Latex or foam: Very firm and therefore perfect for back and side sleepers. Latex also doesn’t allow for dust mites or mildew to thrive. Try a molded shape (curved) to give your head lots of support while sleeping on your back or side.

Don’t forget the case:

We recommend cotton pillowcases (keep extras on hand and change them often) or silk if you’re feeling fancy (and want to keep your blowout extra smooth). Natural fabrics just breathe better, especially important when you’re snuggling up to it every night.

The good news is that a new pillow won’t break the bank and might just revolutionize how you sleep. Don’t put off this purchase any longer.