Jake Comfort | Updated: April 2, 2021
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It’s not a surprise that most people do a good amount of research when they’re considering what new mattress to buy. However, it’s rather surprising that very few people look into what kinds of pillows they should purchase.
Your pillow has almost as much influence over the quality of your sleep. Just because pillows cost less than mattresses do doesn’t mean they aren’t also a vital area to look into in order to ensure that you get the best night’s sleep possible.
There are all shapes and sizes of pillow, and a range of materials can be used for the cover or the stuffing. As a result, some people might feel overwhelmed when they are looking for the best pillow for them. That’s why we put together this guide to help you understand the importance of getting the right pillow and to understand the different pillow options available to you.
Contour Memory Foam
Highly contoured for maximum support and comfort
|Handmade Wool||All natural cool wool feeling||Soft||$89||A+|
|Live and Sleep Pillow||Responsive open-cell memory foam technology enhances sleep for all sleep types||Medium-firm||$60||A|
|Puffy Pillow||Adjustable design so you can customize it to your needs. Cooling cover and great materials||Adjustable||$75||A|
Why is it Important to Get the Right Pillow?
It may not seem like a big deal, but finding the right pillow is actually extremely important. There are two primary reasons that you want to make sure you’ve got the best pillow possible, comfort and health.
The first reason you want to get the best pillow is to ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible while you’re sleeping. Getting the right pillow will help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel better in bed.
Getting a bad pillow can cause you to feel uncomfortable. This can end up in less sleep. For children and teens this is extra important – a bad pillow can cause bad sleep habits that will last the rest of their lives.
The next reason to spend some time getting your pillow right is that getting the best pillow means making a choice for your health. Your pillow has a big role in your head, neck, and shoulder alignment while you sleep. In turn, these alignments affect your back, hips, and knees. As a result, it’s pretty easy to see why having the wrong pillow can cause your whole body to ache in the morning.
Additionally, getting the proper alignment and support is essential to people with specialized health conditions. These include people that deal with muscle spasms, injured necks, injured backs, back pain, neck pain, shoulder stiffness, and more. Given how much of a role it plays in getting good sleep, which is also essential to good health, it should be clear why the best pillow is a must have for anyone.
Different Types of Pillows
There are two main types of pillows. Each type can come in different shapes and sizes. Moreover, each type can be made with any of the pillow materials that we’ll list later. However, getting to understand your options is essential to making the right pillow choice.
Most pillows on the market today are fixed pillows. That means the stuffing or padding inside the pillow are permanently sewn in. It can also mean the pillow is a solid block of material, like many memory foam pillows are. These pillows will maintain one basic size and shape no matter what.
You can also get adjustable pillows. These are more common with pillows that have a stuffing, like shredded memory foam. An adjustable pillow is intended to be opened up. You can add or remove stuffing at will to get the perfect feel you’re looking for.
An adjustable pillow is more customizable, but it also requires more work. Moreover, it carries the risk of stuffing spilling or getting lost. That means it’s a good option for many people, but others should consider these aspects before they make a purchase.
Different Pillow Materials
Now that you know the different types of pillows, it’s time to talk about the different pillow materials. This list covers the most popular pillow materials, but a pillow can be made from any soft substance. That means there’s always something new on the market, so if you don’t see any options you like here, don’t give up hope. Let us know and we’ll add some more pillow materials for you to consider.
Cotton wadding is one of the most common pillow materials. That’s because it’s frequently found in cheap and discount pillows you might get from a big-box store. However, for most people a cotton wadding pillow is going to be sub-optimal at best. These pillows are notorious for losing their shape and firmness. They also don’t stand the test of time very well and can provide lackluster support for your head, neck, and back.
There are some good cotton wadding pillows. However, these come from dedicated mattress and pillow companies. Make sure you check out any pillow reviews you can find before you drop some cash on a cotton wadding pillow.
Another popular type of pillow is the memory foam pillow. This material has gotten increasingly popular as the memory foam mattress market has grown. These pillows have all of the same advantages and drawbacks of memory foam. That means they’ll do a great job conforming to and cradling your body, but can sometimes sleep a bit hot.
Thankfully, all of the innovations that have helped improve memory foam as a mattress material also helps improve memory foam as a pillow. You can find gel-infused memory foam pillows and memory foam pillows specially designed to remove heat.
You can also get a memory foam pillow in a range of firmness options. That means you can be sure to find one that suites your needs when it comes to ensuring you get a proper night’s sleep and maintain good alignment for you neck, back, hips, and knees.
These types of pillows can come in at lots of different price points. Additionally, there’s a ton of memory foam pillows on the market today. That means it’s important to read reviews of the various options to ensure you’re getting the best pillow for your needs. After all, even though all memory foam pillows use memory foam, there are so many different types and qualities of memory foam that knowing a pillow uses memory foam doesn’t actually tell you that much about the pillow itself.
Latex foam pillows are similar to memory foam pillows. They come in a single pillow-shaped block of foam. Latex foam pillows offer many of the advantages of a memory foam pillow while giving the sleeper a slightly different experience.
Latex foam provides a bouncier sensation than memory foam does. Latex foam pillows also don’t conform as sharply to your head when you lay down on them. That’s one reason that many people prefer latex foam pillows even if they don’t normally prefer a latex mattress.
Another benefit that latex has over many types of memory foam is that latex can be naturally and even organically produced. As a result, many people prefer a latex foam pillow because it’s better for the environment.
Latex foam pillows can come in a range of different firmness options, everything from squish soft to very firm. They also do a good job of providing support for your head and neck to help keep the rest of your body in alignment all night long.
Shredded Memory Foam
Shredded memory foam is another common choice for high-quality pillows these days. Shredding the memory foam allows these pillows to come in adjustable varieties. That means they’re a good option for picky sleepers are those who need to get their pillow support perfectly set up. The shredded memory foam chunks are big enough to be difficult to lose without being so big that they create large awkward shapes in the pillow itself as you sleep on it.
Another benefit of shredded memory foam pillows is that shredded foam has many more air passages than standard memory foam offers.
That means that the pillow will do a better job of cooling off at night. You also get the standard benefits of memory foam. The material is usually shredded into pieces that allow you to get the body-conforming properties of memory foam without the drawbacks of having a solid mass of the material.
Down is a traditional pillow material that many people still prefer. Down is the feathers that come off baby birds, usually geese. These feathers are extra puffy, soft, and insulating. Moreover, down pillows are usually all-natural, as they don’t require anything other than the feathers. However, unlike memory foam and latex pillows you won’t be able to find any vegan friendly down pillows.
While many people love the feel of a down pillow, it isn’t for everyone. Some people find them prickly. Others think that the pillows hold too much heat or that they lose their shape too quickly.
No matter what your stance on these pillows happens to be, you should certainly make sure to take the time to research any down pillows you’re considering, making sure you’re getting a good value for your money.
Polyester fiberfill is another common pillow stuffing ingredient in cheap and discount pillows. This stuffing strongly resembles cotton wadding but is made from a synthetic fabric instead of cotton. It’s also common for pillows to contain a mix of cotton and polyester fiberfill.
Polyester fiberfill is a very broad category of pillows. The qualities you get from these pillows will depend largely on what kinds of fiber is used for the fiberfill. Polyester-radon fibers will be soft but lose their shape easily, while spandex-type fibers will be good at keeping cool and be a bit more bouncy than other options.
Because of the huge variety in these types of pillows, it’s even more important than normal that you take the time to do some research before you buy anything. Some of these types of pillows are very good and provide excellent support. However, there are others that are basically garbage and to be avoided at all costs.
One thing that you should pay close attention to with these pillows is how the different fibers are made. There are some all-natural fiberfill pillows that don’t have the same properties as the polyester varieties. You can even find vegan friendly options in this category.
Buckwheat is a good example of some of the many natural filler options for pillows that are also vegan friendly. These pillows tend to lay very flat, as natural grain pillows aren’t very fluffy. However, they can provide an extremely comfortable and supportive platform for your head and neck while you sleep.
As a result, they’re very popular among back sleepers who like to lay as flat as possible. They’re also loved by people who require a specific type of support and need it to be consistent night after night.
Buckwheat and other natural grain filled pillows, like rice or corn, can be made in an adjustable form. That means you can fill the pillow up to the exact right height for your needs. Moreover, the material is very durable, and so it will maintain its shape for a long time. That makes it a great value for people that have these needs or that need a vegan-friendly pillow.
Microbead pillows are another form of memory foam pillows. The thing that sets these apart is that the memory foam that constitutes the pillow is full of microbeads. These beads work to help increase the airflow through the pillow, helping to keep it cool.
There are also micro-bead infusions of special materials that are thought to help your health in other ways. For example, some pillows are made with copper-infused memory foam under the theory that copper helps blood flow and has other beneficial properties.
Microbead pillows can come in adjustable or fixed forms. The fixed forms are usually in the form of a solid block of infused memory foam. That means that the descriptions of the memory foam pillow and shredded memory foam pillow will go a long way in telling you how these pillows will feel if you sleep on them.
There are lots of other pillow materials out there. There are all kinds of synthetic fabrics, natural material fillers, natural wool fillers, luxury fillers, and so on. The important thing is to do your research and see what other people are saying before you make a purchase. After all, you work hard for your money, so you shouldn’t waste it by getting an inferior pillow you’ll either have to replace anyway or live with while it’s a literal pain in the neck.
As you can see, there are plenty of pillow options to choose from. Fixed or adjustable, latex, memory foam, or down, you can find a combination of qualities that will produce the best pillow for you.
However, there are a ton of pillows on the market. That’s why we’ve made this helpful table. It will tell you about some of the basics of the pillows that we’ve found to be the best around. Check out our reviews of them and let us know if you agree!