Sleep Health and Your Pillow

February 7, 2023
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Author: Katie Kelly


Sleep Health and Your Pillow

Finding the right pillow may seem like a futile search for many of us, but the wrong pillow can cause pain, sleepless nights, and even a visit to the doctor’s office. It’s a worthy endeavor, but with so many pillows on the market how does one choose? Just as with mattresses, sadly there is no one size fits all, though the key to finding that perfect pillow may lie with choosing one that is most ideal for your sleep position. Additional considerations may include underlying health conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, or injuries, though, for the purposes of these findings, we will focus solely on sleep position. The findings are derived from the current sleep science, consumer reviews, and reports of customer satisfaction. (1)

For true back sleepers, a semi-firm or firm, supportive pillow is often best to keep your neck in an ideal position through the night. Many people who sleep on their back tend to use a pillow that is too soft or flat, and without the right shape or support your spine becomes poorly aligned. Classic, molded memory foam pillows are especially good for back sleepers because they contour to the shape of your head and neck and provide optimal support. And, a memory foam pillow with an added cooling gel layer can help to regulate your body temperature and keep you cool and comfortable all night long. Shredded memory foam pillows are also great options, and allow you to add or remove the filling in order to reach your preferred firmness without compromising support. An alternative to memory foam are customizable, adjustable neck roll pillows. They offer the same firmness and support for the neck, though do note that they may take a few nights adjusting how many inserts you use to get it just right. (2) Some tried and true brands according to the experts at Sleep Foundation, are the
Original Groove Pillow,
Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
, and the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow

Side sleepers will do best with a pillow that has medium-firm to firm support, and high loft to keep a healthy posture. It’s important for the pillow to contour the head and neck while keeping them in healthy alignment with the rest of the spine. A pillow that’s too soft would allow your head to sink too much, throwing your spine out of alignment and causing too much pressure on your shoulder. A pillow filled with high loft down or feathers is a great choice, though may need to be fluffed periodically to provide enough support. A shredded memory foam-filled pillow can be customized to provide the correct amount of support while still remaining soft. Side sleepers who move around a lot also really like latex pillows. They don’t contour the body quite as well as memory foam, but are more responsive, are naturally hypoallergenic, and are characterized by their superior cooling capabilities.(4) Sleep Foundation experts suggest trying the Saatva Latex Pillow
, the Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow, or the Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow.(5)

Finally, stomach sleepers should look for a pillow that is soft and flat to prevent any major misalignments in the neck. Physicians often discourage stomach sleeping because of potential health risks and major comfort issues, which can lead to spinal strain, neck pain, and sleep disruption.  Taking that into consideration, low-density down, feathers, or down alternative pillows would be great choices as they yield to pressure. If a firmer pillow is preferred, then a shredded memory foam, gel-infused foam, or latex pillow would be good alternatives. Ideally, stomach sleepers should search for a soft pillow with low density or removable fill,  that has a low or medium loft between 3’-5’ of height. (6)
According to Sleep Foundation, you should consider trying the FluffCo Down & Feather Pillow – Soft Fluff
, the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
, or the Sheex Orginal Performance Down Alternative Stomach/Back Sleeper Pillow.(7)

No matter what your sleep position is, there are pillows on the market that can provide you with the proper support and comfort you need. Now that you know which types are best suited for your preferred position, you can shop with confidence and narrow the search to (hopefully) find that perfect pillow.