how to choose a pillow

Learn How to Choose a Pillow and What You Should Consider When Buying

Often, we excuse our poor mood by saying we just didn’t get enough sleep. We’ve all been there and there’s no shame in it. Sleep is key to maintaining a balanced life. 

People buy countless products that expand their sleeping experience to the next level. One of the essentials is the item where we place our head – the right pillow. Pillows are important and it is even more important to replace your pillow regularly.

Pillows improve the quality of our sleep, comfort and consistency while we take our most important rest. Additionally, choosing a pillow that doesn’t feel comfortable increases the possibility of having headaches, numbness, discomfort, neck pain and so forth.

This is by no means a scare tactic, but rather two sides of this really important bedroom item. If they are past their prime, pillows lose their fluff and softness – becoming rigid and dirty. Old pillows can contain, mold, fungus, skin cells and other amazing things you probably don’t want to sleep on. A general rule of thumb is to buy a new pillow every year. Choosing the perfect one is a tall task. Hopefully, it’s manageable with the breakdown of angles you should consider when getting yourself the right pillow.

woman laying on a pillow, smiling

Filling types

The main part of the pillow, the source of its comfort. Fillings have evolved consistently in the past years and today we have ample choice in what kind of filling suites our needs. The ones that win the popularity award are foam, polyester fiber and memory foam fillings. However there are more to choose from and they all come with their respective pros and cons. The available types are as follows, in no particular order:

Wool pillows

wool pillow filling

This particular filling is great for regulating moisture for your skin while also providing a temperature balance throughout the year. Woolen fill is hypoallergenic and as an added bonus it also protects from dust mites and mold. Such pillows are quite firm and durable. To some, wool may seem like a very rough material, but there are alternatives, such as alpaca wool if you are searching for a softer option.

Cotton pillows

Very similar in most ways like its woolen counterpart. The only difference is that cotton filling adds a lot to the flatness and firmness of the pillow. Most people find them to be too firm but are a great choice for those looking to avoid allergies or other unwanted reactions.

Microfiber pillows

Microfiber pillow filling

These pillows are usually used as throw pillows in the living room – but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for sleeping too. Microfiber sleeping pillows are hypoallergenic and machine washable and dryable. It’s good for back sleepers or side sleepers and if you can find a good pillow cover, they can last a long time.

Latex pillows

Latex filling in a pillow

Such fills are firm, but quite comfortable. Latex is a strong material that cannot be squished or contorted. Additionally, it is mold and dust mites proof. It is a great choice if you are looking for support to your neck or head areas, but also a poor one if you are looking for something soft that can mould itself according to your body.

Memory foam pillows

memory foam in a pillow

Top choice for most people in the recent years. The foam conforms around the shape of the user’s head and neck contour. The foam uses the body heat of the user to soften itself up while also distributing weight evenly across the pillow. The drawbacks of this filling are the high heat retention that the pillow keeps and the somewhat off-putting smell that comes with a freshly bought pillow. The smell usually goes away after a couple of washings. However, if you have problems with high temperature or just want to be cool in general, this filling maybe isn’t for you.

Down pillows

Light as a feather. This is certainly true for pillows with down filling. The feeling is soft and welcoming while resting on it. Manufacturers usually use duck or goose fibers. The difference between those two kinds of filling is noticeable when comparing the weight. Goose is considerably lighter (and more expensive) than the duck option. However, even goose fillings have a weight variety in them. The biggest x-factor when buying this kind of pillow is whether you will have some kind of an allergic reaction to it. Due to it being an animal product it is quite tough to know exactly how clean the fiber is. Do not fear this possibility. Usually, the dirt trapped within the fiber is there due to poor fiber cleaning associated with cheap pillows. Just make sure you get one from a respectable seller.

Synthetic down pillows

Logically a cheaper option to the real thing, but not without drawback. The artificial down is very rigid and will flatten quicker over time. However, it will remove any allergies or otherwise uncomfortable condition caused by natural down.

Buckwheat pillows

Buckwheat pillows are the most popular in Asia, but we’re sure they can help you have better sleep no matter where you are. They are good for headaches, back pain and neck pain. Buckwheat pillows have good air flow, so your skin will breathe and you won’t sweat throughout the night.

Fill power

This isn’t a specific kind of pillow filling but rather the measurement of the quality and longevity of the pillow. Without getting into too much details, all you need to know is that a fill-power of 600 or above is the way to go if you are looking for a pillow of reasonable quality.

Pillow size

Different pillow sizes on a bed

Most of us don’t really have this question in our minds when it comes to pillows. The most important part of choosing the right pillow size is making sure that your body will remain in a natural sleeping position. The general gist of things is that your shoulders should be resting on your mattress, your spine aligned with your neck while your head is on the pillow. If you can put a checkmark on all of these points, than you’ve probably got a pillow of the right size.


Using a pillow cover increases the durability of any pillow by a great deal. When choosing one, pay attention to the fabrics and their origin. Natural fabrics are great because they are allergy free and feel great to lie on. If you have a cover your pillow will be protected from any stains or bodily fluids that follow our sleep. For example, bamboo pillows are all the rage in the last couple of years. They are organic, hypoallergenic and completely natural covers which you simply have to try.


Polyester and memory foam are materials made through a variety of chemical processes. Many pillows are also put through chemical treatments against microbes. If you are sensitive to chemicals in general, the safest way to go about this is to research what sorts of chemicals were involved in the pillow-making process and cross-reference them with your allergies. If there is a match, best to avoid that purchase.

Make sure YOU like your pillow

The cost of the pillow doesn’t really make it better if it isn’t to your liking. Whether it’s a sleeping pillow or just something that you will use for a cushion – find the pillow that works for you. You would be surprised by just how much money you can save by going down this route. If you are shopping for jeans, you try them on. We can say the same for pillows. Depending on the size of your neck and head, you need to choose a pillow to fit your mould.

The best way to know if you’ve got the right pillow is to have a lie down on it and see if your neck is aligned with your spine. Also, your sleeping style will influence the pillow you will get. Side sleepers need to look for the most comfortable pillows for side sleepers, the back sleepers should look for the pillows that are designed for back sleepers and so on. However, this can be tricky to do alone so make sure you have someone with you to help out. Luckily, most companies offer a 30-day trial for trying out a new pillow. They’re also aware hat you can’t simply determine by just looking at it or poking it. However, 30 days is just enough for you to have at least one uninterrupted night of sleep on it and determine if it’s the right pillow for you.

The right pillow is waiting for you…

The choices and variables involved in this seemingly easy purchase are many and it is easy to get sidetracked. Whether you are buying hypoallergenic pillows or regular, you should not forget a few things. Keep in mind that this is for your own sleep benefits. Make no compromises, make no adjustments. Your pillow should fit most of your needs and wants if a good-nights rest is what you are after.

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