Just like a mattress, a quality pillow guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep. It might be time to change yours if you often wake up with shoulder, neck or back pain. You may be getting these pains because your body isn’t aligned while you sleep, and a good pillow could help fix that.

Correcting your sleeping position and aligning your body is exactly what a good pillow will do. Your goal is to have the most appropriate posture to relax your muscles and promote good quality rest. But do you know how to choose the best pillow for you? Do you know which one best suits your posture and sleeping pattern? No? Well, you’re in luck: we designed this guide to tell you everything you need to know.

First things first:

  • The posture in which you sleep is a key factor in your final decision.
  • The different materials of the pillow will strongly influence its firmness, as do the distinct fillings available.
  • Your pillow should always be wider than your shoulders. Lower pillows are most appropriate for lightweight people and those who sleep on their front. Higher models are designed for those who sleep on their sides, and medium pillows for those who sleep on their backs.
  • Pillows with special designs, such as cervical models, are designed for people with muscle pains and aches. They are also useful for pregnant women.

Ranking: The best pillows in the UK

If you want to get a good, well rested night’s sleep, then picking the right pillow is essential. There is a wide range of pillows available on the market, so you’ll have to consider factors such as your sleeping habits and physical build – in particular your height and weight. We’ve selected the very best pillows out there and listed them in the next section to help you make your choice.

No. 1: Ecosafeter Contour Memory Foam Pillow (1 pack, Standard)

This memory foam pillow by Ecosafeter adapts to the weight of your head and neck, and conforms to the curves of your body. This provides ultimate support and ensures that your head and neck are aligned with the top of your spine so that you sleep soundly. This memory foam pillow can also help with those who suffer from insomnia, stress, and it could even stop you from snoring!

This pillow is dust proof, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals. Perfect for back, side and stomach sleepers, this medium-firm feel pillow contains an outer cover which is removable, washable and breathable. You can’t put the inner pillow into the washing machine, but simply leaving it in a cool, dry place to air it out will be fine!

No. 2: Adam Home Premium Pillows with Quilted Cover (4 Pack, Standard)

This pack of four fancy pillows are the number one best seller on Amazon. They’re made with hotel quality hollowfibres with extra plush. They’re quilted so they’ll last longer than standard pillows. The quilted cover also means that there’s another layer of comfort, so these pillows will help you sleep soundly.

If that’s not enough, these pillows are easily machine washed in cold water and they can be tumble dried on low. They’re hypoallergenic, and prevent dust mites from entering into the pillow. They are also slightly larger than others standard-sized pillows, with the generous sizing of 74cm by 48cm. Not to worry though, this is just to add extra plush, they will still fit into standard sized pillowcases.

No. 3: BedStory Luxury Plush Fibre Pillows (2 Pack, Standard & Queen)

These pillows by Bedstory are made with very breathable and skin-friendly materials. They’re are hotel quality, so  they’re soft, comfortable and easy to manoeuvre into any position. They’re of the perfect firmness to suit everyone, so they’re just right for people who sleep on their side, back or front.

The hypoallergenic cover and dust mite resistant core mean that you won’t have any problems with these pillows. Additionally, 3D clusters of plush fibre fillings mean they offer wonderful and solid support for your back and neck. They even resume their shape straight after you get up!

No. 4: Silentnight Deep Sleep Pillow (2 Pack, Standard)

Silentnight have over 70 years of experience with making pillows. This UK-based company makes these hypoallergenic DuPont Cotrano Hollow fibre, machine washable, pillows in England, so you know you’re getting very good quality pillows. The hollowfibre filling makes these Deep Sleep Pillows bouncy and soft, so you can sink into these luxurious pillows and have a wonderful night’s sleep.

What’s more, these pillows are a standard size of 70cm x 45xcm. The hollowfibre filling is incredibly resilient, so your pillow will always bounce back – no matter how many times you wash them. Finally, these pillows provide soft to medium firmness, which is ideal for if you sleep on your back or side.

No. 5: Slumberdown Supper Support Pillows (2 pack, Standard)

Last but certainly not least, we have this Slumberdown Supper Support pillow has a firm core, which is perfect for those who sleep on their side, as it holds your head in just the right position and encourages your spine to straighten. This helps to reduce aches and pains, and ensures that you have a wonderful night’s sleep.

The super soft polycotton fabric cover is breathable and 100% polyester filing is perfectly comfortable. Perfect to throw in the washing machine and wack in the tumble dryer, these hypoallergenic, easy care pillows are of amazing quality and they always recover their shape after a wash – what more could you want?

Buying Guide: Everything you need to know about pillows

If you think that pillows are just another item in your bedroom, think again. A change of pillow could be the best decision you make if you suffer from sleep problems, and back or neck pains. We encourage you to really think about your choice of pillow, since sleep is very important and a good quality sleep is vital for our health. This is why we’ve designed the following guide to help you. Let’s get started!

Remember that the right pillow will decrease the stress accumulated during the day and help you fall asleep more easily.
(Source: Puhhha: 46115646/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is a pillow?

A pillow is a soft item on which you rest your head during sleep. Placed on the mattress and at the top of the bed, this product generally matches the bed covers. It is designed to fit in the neck cavity, therefore relaxing the nape of the neck and avoiding muscular tension, with the end goal of keeping the spine straight.

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Using the right pillow reduces the stress you accumulate during the day and helps you fall asleep. Nowadays, pillows come in a variety of different shapes and materials.

What types of pillows are out there?

A lot of people generally pick their new pillow solely based on instinct, simply by looking at the price of the item and the size of their bed. This is a common mistake, and most don’t know about the different types of pillows and that they are tailored for different people and different sleeping positions.

There are pillows made of natural fibres, synthetic fillings, with firm or softer textures, the list goes on. In the following table, we have listed the different types of pillows and their characteristics to help you in your final decision.

Type Materials Advantages Disadvantages Characteristics
Viscoelastic (memory foam) Synthetic foam. Fits the shape of the body. May be very hard and hot. Not machine washable. You can choose its size. Certain models offer heat-resistant fabrics.
Fibre Polyester and synthetic fibres. Machine washable. More affordable, they are hypoallergenic. They deform and lose consistency quickly. The filler may spoil. They are usually relatively cheap. Silicone hollow fibres are hypoallergenic.
Gel Memory foam and latex. They feature a middle layer of gel. More expensive. Cannot be washed. They require have an antiperspirant cover. Ideal for hot areas.
Anatomic Memory foam. Allows you to relax when in the correct posture. Improves blood flow. The weight is evenly distributed. Square models only allow you to sleep on the back. Getting used to them can be difficult. They can be very hard. Ideal for people with neck or back pain.
Feather Goose feathers, down or a combination of both. Malleable structure. Lightweight and cool. Avoid in case of allergies, back or neck pains. They require dry cleaning. They are more refreshing.
Latex Latex or a mixture of latex and memory foam. Excellent head and neck support. Comfortable. Relieves back pain. Can be too firm. Cannot be washed. Unpleasant smell (non-toxic). Smooth and with good neck and back support. Soft to the touch. Good adaptability.

What is memory foam?

Viscoelastic, also known as memory foam, is a material developed by NASA. It has innovative properties which alleviates the pressure that tissues put on your body. It was originally designed to make space suits more comfortable during take-off. Nowadays, this material is used in the textile, automobile and bed industries.

It is also used in hospitals for the manufacture of prostheses, as well as for adaptable mattresses and pillows. This type of material is ideal to promote rest for people with back and neck conditions, as its ability to adapt to the natural contour of the body allows it to alleviate pressure on the neck, back and limbs.

Don’t simply choose a well-known brand or follow the advice of other consumers when choosing your pillow.
(Source: Daria Minaeva: 43933317/ 123rf.com)

Which materials should I choose?

The most popular material used for pillows at the moment is memory foam. These models, as well as latex pillows, best adapt to the contour of the neck. Latex pillows are much more likely to cause allergic reactions, and they need to be cared for properly. Otherwise, they may become a hotspot for bacteria and fungi.

If you are prone to having allergic reactions, your best options will be memory foam or synthetic fibre, as both feather and latex can cause serious problems. If you have neck issues, materials like memory foam or gel will offer better support and adequate density that will promote rest.

Which type of pillow is the right one for me?

Just like with mattresses, the same pillow isn’t the best for everyone: it all depends on your sleeping needs and the position you sleep in. Don’t simply choose a well-known brand or follow the advice of a friend when choosing your pillow. Many wonderful pillows are available, all you need to do is think about your sleeping needs, and you’ll easily find the perfect pillow for you.

Here is a list of the most appropriate pillows for each sleeping posture, which we hope will help you find the right one:

  • If you sleep on your side: Thicker pillows are recommended. They will keep your neck straight and aligned with your spine. If your neck is not aligned with your back, you may suffer from neck problems and muscular pains in the long run.
  • If you sleep on your stomach: You will best rest with a soft, thin, flexible pillow. In this posture, your neck doesn’t need so much height to stay aligned with your spine. However, it’s not recommended to sleep in this position as it puts strain on your neck.
  • You sleep on your back: A pillow with a medium thickness is what you need. Your neck should be raised a little to maintain alignment with your back, although not as much as if you sleep on your side.

How do I know my pillow size?

Until recently, pillows had standard sizes depending on the width of the bed. Then, they began to be made in softer or harder materials, before the trend of mixing aesthetic and ergonomic factors came along. Nowadays, there is lots of choice and lots of different pillow types.

There are three criteria for you to consider in order to pick your pillow size: the build of your shoulders, your sleeping posture and the firmness you want or need. One way to find your size is to lie on a very thin pillow and add towels until you find the right posture. When you’ve got it, measure the pillow and towels and this should give you your ideal size.

Until recently, pillows had standard sizes depending on the width of the bed. (Source: Lightpoet: 50640652/ 123rf.com)

Which are better: memory foam or feather pillows?

Memory foam pillows stand out from the crowd because of the special foam from which they are manufactured. It can very easily adapt to the user’s anatomy, as it fits the shape of the head and neck. They are most recommended for people with back and neck problems.

On the other other hand, pillows filled with feathers or down aren’t very firm, which makes them ideal for those who sleep on their front. However, they don’t seem to be the best for those who tend to sleep on their backs, even though their softness allows them to adapt well to almost any posture. Durable and lightweight, they can also get a little warm.

Are you unsure about which pillowcases are the best? In the table below, we’ve detailed the main differences between synthetic and natural pillowcases.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Memory foam They adapt better to the contour of your body. They are hypoallergenic and very easy to find. They can be washed. Ideal for people with muscle problems. They can be very hard and are not suitable for sleeping on your side. They are somewhat more expensive.
Down Lighter, they easily adapt to all sleeping postures. Pleasant to the touch. Mouldable structure. They control the temperature better. To be avoided in case of allergies. Maintenance requires more effort. Not recommended for people with neck pain.

How do I take care of my pillow?

Taking care of your pillow is important if you want to extend its life and get the most out of it. As a general rule, the number one maintenance tip is to regularly air it out. It is also recommended to flip it over often, so as to avoid it becoming deformed, humid or yellowish on one side. Remember to always use a pillowcase.

Depending on its material, each type of pillow requires specific care. Below is some info which will help you best look after your new pillow:

Pillow type Maintenance
Fibre Machine wash. Wrap with a cloth of the same colour. Roll it up to stop it from getting deformed. Put it on a delicate washing programme. Do not spin-dry. Wash separately.
Memory foam Do not machine wash because they will get ruined Do not spin-dry. Check the manufacturer’s label. Wash the pillowcase frequently. Add a protective breathable fabric pillowcase. Air out daily. Vacuum once every two weeks. Turn it over.
Latex Same maintenance as with memory foam models.
Gel and anatomic Same as memory foam pillows. Do not flip it over because the gel won’t work as well.
Feather Wash at least once a year. If it has stains, soak for one hour with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Put a tennis ball in the washing machine with the pillow to prevent feathers from clumping. Put it on a delicate washing programme and use liquid detergent. Do not add fabric softener. Air dry on a flat surface.

How often should I change my pillow?

A well-kept pillow can last up to five years, but this naturally depends on its quality and manufacturing materials. Certain models could last you a lifetime, while others may need to be changed within the first couple of years. How well you take care of it, as well as whether you use a protective cover or not, also affect how long it lasts for.

That being said, it is most recommended to change pillows more or less every two years. It is actually very likely that, after this period, your pillow won’t be the same shape as it used to be, and it will most likely have dust mites on it. That being said, you should obviously change it before that time if you notice that it is no longer comfortable.

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Did you know that the Spanish word for pillow – almohada – came from the Arabic term al-mukhádda, which means cheek?

Which is the best pillow to combat pain?

Sleeping without a pillow, or with a pillow that is too high or too low, can cause neck and back pain. If you feel pain when you wake up in the morning, or if you notice you often suffer from upper back and neck pain, choose a model that provides good support for your head and neck, without being too firm. Memory foam pillows are the go-to choice for people suffering from back, neck or head pain.

These pillows perfectly adapt to the shape of the head and neck. They are also designed to alleviate pressure on the area and relax the muscles. They are called “memory foam” because they regain their original shape when you take the pressure off of them. They offer medium firmness and resistance, which provides a pleasant level of relaxation in the neck.

Is sleeping with a pillow between the legs useful?

Sitting and walking correctly isn’t all that’s needed for a good posture: sleeping appropriately is also important. During sleep, the tissues, ligaments and muscles of your back regenerate, which is why a proper sleeping position is essential. Regardless of which side you sleep on, it’s vital that you keep your back and neck aligned.

If you tend to sleep on your side, using a pillow between your legs is the best option to avoid causing muscle injuries and rest more comfortably.

This technique reduces the weight and pressure of the upper leg, while eliminating the pressure of the muscles of the hip and lower back, resulting in a better alignment.

How should I use my neck support pillow?

This type of pillow is the best choice for people who frequently have neck and/or back problems. However, you have to know how to use them properly if you want to reap the benefits of these fab pillows. In order to do so, place your whole head on the pillow, always trying to have your shoulders on the mattress.

Ideally, your head, neck and shoulders should be perfectly aligned and adopt a natural posture that will prevent injuries and pains. Unlike with other pillows, you need to sleep on your back for cervical models to be efficient.

Buying Criteria

Pillows are incredibly important if you want to get the best rest possible. Nowadays, thanks to scientific development, the market offers a wide range of models and types – such as cervical, memory foam or latex. In the following section, we’ve detailed the key aspects that you need to consider when making your purchase.

  • Material
  • Measurements
  • Sleeping posture
  • Design
  • Pillowcase
  • Individual or double pillow

Material

This is one of the most important things you need to think about when buying a pillow, as it strongly influences what it can offer you in terms of comfort and quality. We’ve already touched on this, but memory foam pillows are currently the best-selling on the market. The reason for this is that they are comfortable and resistant, adapt perfectly to the contours of the neck, and alleviate pain and stress in the process.

Today, synthetic fibres and memory foam are the most commonly used and sold materials.

If you want to opt for more traditional materials, feather, down or natural or synthetic fibre pillows will be your options. The latter are most recommended for people suffering from allergies, and also happen to be the most affordable. Finally, you should go for latex if you prefer a soft touch and a greater durability – but remember that these models are more expensive, and some people can be allergic to latex.

A well-maintained pillow can last up to five years, but this naturally depends on its quality and manufacturing materials.
(Source: Dolgachov: 71148969/ 123rf.com)

Measurements

As we explained earlier in the article, choosing the right pillow size isn’t just about matching with the size of your bed. While they used to be the measured this way, there are now higher or lower pillows depending on the needs of your body and your sleeping posture. As you can imagine, sleeping on your side, on your front or on your back don’t present the same requirements.

Certain pillows even feature an adjustable height through a system of interchangeable internal parts. These models are ideal for individuals with neck and back problems. While they are a little more expensive, they’re your best option if you really want to correct your posture.

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Remember that the best pillow for you is the one that helps align your neck and spine.

Sleeping posture

Again, the position in which you sleep will directly impact the type of pillow you should buy. Stomach sleepers, for instance, are advised to opt for feather or down pillows, as they tend to be much thinner and more adaptable. On the other hand, memory foam or gel models are tailored for people who sleep on their back.

Featuring a higher density, memory foam or latex pillows will also be comfortable for sleeping on your back. Fibre pillows are extremely versatile: they adapt well to the neck and fit easily, whether you sleep on your side or in any other posture. Take a good look at how you sleep, and choose the pillow that will be most comfortable.

Sleeping without a pillow, or with a pillow that is too high or too low, can cause neck and back pain.
(Source: Subbotina: 30286412/ 123rf.com)

Design

The majority of pillows present a traditional design, with some being taller, wider or longer depending on their size. However, certain models feature special designs, which are specifically designed for people with postural problems or back aches. If that’s your case, consider your needs and choose accordingly.

We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to think about your sleeping posture when you’re choosing a design for your new pillow. Don’t settle for the very first pillow you see, but rather adapt it to your posture and your preferences.

Pillowcase

The pillowcase is another key element that you shouldn’t neglect. Most pillows come with a washable cover. Memory foam pillows, for example, have a protective cover that you will need to wash regularly. These pillowcases are generally made from natural fibres such as aloe vera or bamboo. Make sure that you can change and wash the pillowcase.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the material of the pillowcase when buying your pillow: it should be hypoallergenic and anti-dust mites. This is particularly important if you suffer from asthma or are allergic to dust.

Individual or double pillow

The answer is very simple if you sleep alone, even if it is in a large bed. An individual pillow is perfect for you since you don’t have to worry about your partner’s movement during the night. Shared pillows are an option for those who sleep with a partner, but they come with their problems, since you have to agree on the same material, which may not end up being the most suitable material for one of you.

Also, if one of you has a tendency to move during the night, they will most likely bother the other person. This is why it is now recommended for everyone to have their own individual pillow. That way, both people in the couple has a model tailored to their specific needs.

Una pareja durmiendo en la cama

Certain pillows perfectly adapt to the shape of the head and neck, and are designed to alleviate pressure on the area and relax the muscles. (Source: Rido: 53545360/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Pillows are much more than mere pieces of fabric on which we rest our heads at night. How well we sleep depends a lot on choosing the right model, which will also prevent us from suffering from neck and back pains the next morning. Your pillow should align the axes of your neck and back, helping you get the most refreshing sleep and relieving stress.

As we explained in our article, many factors will influence your purchasing decision: these include your sleeping posture, whether you suffer from back and neck pain or not, the manufacturing material and even how well you look after the pillow. If you follow our advice, we’re confident that you’ll be able to pick the perfect pillow to sleep like a log.

If you liked our shopping guide, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below, or share with your friends and family so that they can choose their perfect pillow. Sweet dreams!

(Source of featured image: Belchonock: 32985619/ 123rf.com)

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