How to Find the Perfect Pillow

Been pillow shopping lately? If not, get ready for a big array of choices. You have many options, including:

  • Neck pillows
  • Body pillows
  • Memory foam pillows
  • Anti-snore pillows
  • “Cool” pillows
  • Oxygen-promoting pillows
  • Cervical pillows

Shopping can be stressful. A wrong purchase could mean you’re stuck with a pillow you don’t want. Fortunately, a little preparation can help prevent a poor choice.

A rule of thumb says pillows should be replaced every 12 to 18 months. By two years, your pillow should be headed to the dump. If you don’t remember how old your fiberfill pillow is, Good Housekeeping advises taking a pillow, folding it in half and placing a book on it.

The pillow should spring back into shape. If it stays folded, it’s time to shop.

The most important reason to dump an aged pillow is because of dust mites — the microscopic, creepy-looking little bugs that take up residence in bedding and rapidly multiply in homes, especially when the humidity is high.

Dust mites don’t bite. The problem is the accumulation of their waste and carcasses. Many people are allergic to a substance in dust-mite waste that can cause rashes, asthma and sinusitis. If you’re allergic to dust mites, you can buy protective pillow covers made of tightly-woven material. These can be found in bedding stores and online.

Mold, mildew and fungus also build up in pillows. That is not what you want to plant your face on night after night.

Shopping tips

While pillow shopping seems daunting, you can keep it simple by focusing on basics: You want a pillow that’s comfortable, supportive and keeps your head and neck properly aligned while you sleep. If possible, lie down and try out pillows in a store.

If that is not feasible, lean against a wall using the pillow as you would in bed. Sleep expert and author Michael Breus tells WebMD that it’s a good idea to ask someone tell you whether the pillow keeps your neck lined up straight with your body.

Take your time shopping, trying out a variety of types, shapes and sizes of pillows in your price range.

What type of sleeper are you?

Here’s another approach to pillow shopping: Match your pillow with your sleeping style.

Buying pillows is like buying a mattress: You can’t really tell by spending only a few minutes on a mattress or pillow whether they’re right for you.

You can increase your odds of success by noticing how you sleep. Some pillows are even labeled as best for a particular position.

  • Back sleepers: Look for a slim pillow so your head won’t be pushed too far forward, straining your neck. Some back sleepers like a pillow whose lower third is fatter than the rest of the pillow. The fat part fits snugly into the curve of your neck and supports it.
  • Side sleepers: Kammi Bernard, a physical therapist at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, tells WebMD that she advises side sleepers find a pillow firm enough to fill the space between the ear and shoulder.
  • Stomach sleepers: Use a very thin pillow or none at all for the head and consider also using a thin pillow under your stomach, which can help prevent back pain.

The best fill material

The fill material you choose is a matter of personal preference. If you like a fluffy pillow, down is probably the stuff you want. If down is too expensive, look for a combination of down and feathers. Down alternatives are great for people with allergies who prefer a fluffy pillow.

Fans of memory foam pillows prefer the dense support this material gives. If you do buy a memory foam pillow, make sure it fits your body well, since foam won’t compact and become smaller as down and polyester pillows do.

If you are still undecided, consider the compromise that chiropractor Dr. Darren Pollack suggests at Good Housekeeping:

“I like to recommend a hybrid pillow that has a memory foam core surrounded with a softer down or synthetic layer. This version offers support and comfort, and can adapt as you change position throughout the night.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

17 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
17 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive
9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive

These products from Amazon add elegance to your home without the expense.

Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?
Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?

A reader says the government is penalizing him for having a pension. Is he right?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire
9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire

You’ve waited all your life for this moment. Make the most of your retirement.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon
Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target

No store can specialize in everything. For some purchases, it’s smart to shop elsewhere.

8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores
8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores

For one expert, these secondhand bargains stand out from the rest.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Retirees can dial back the intensity of work while continuing to bring in a paycheck.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

11 Foods That Can Keep for Years
11 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks
Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks

Don’t let buyers fleece you — whether you’re selling via a yard sale or Facebook Marketplace.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.