Pillow choice is very personal and your pillow can make a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Pillows generally differ in:
A pillow's support type describes how sturdily the pillow holds your head. The right level of support from a pillow depends on how your head is angled during the night—so it's tied to the position in which you sleep.
|Support Type ||What It Does ||Usually Recommended for |
|Soft ||Doesn't alter the position of the neck and upper spine ||People who sleep on their stomach |
|Medium ||Supports the natural curvature of the upper spine, providing support under the head, neck and shoulders ||People who sleep on their back |
|Firm ||Contours and cradles the neck, providing an even sleeping surface ||People who sleep on their side |
Fill-type describes the pillow's "stuffing." Fill materials can impact the way a pillow conforms to your head, how squishy or resistant it feels, and how you will need to care for it.
|Fill Type ||What It Is ||Good to Know |
|Natural ||Feather, down, or a combination of both ||Down and feathers are considered best for conforming to your head and neck. Fill power describes the fill’s "loft" or fluffiness: The higher the number, the loftier and more durable the pillow. Some down pillows are treated to make them even more hypoallergenic. Well cared for, a natural fill pillow can last for a decade. |
|Synthetic ||Man-made fill, usually polyester ||Generally the most affordable type pillow, synthetics-filled pillows are hypoallergenic, but aren't as long lasting as pillows with other fills. Synthetic pillows last only two to three years. |
|Poly-cluster ||A type of synthetic fill in which polyester clusters are coated with silicone to feel and move like down. ||Another hypoallergenic option, poly-cluster fill offers most of the softness and comfort of a down pillow at a lower cost. Poly-cluster pillows will not last as long as a down pillow, but should be useful for several years. |
|Memory Foam ||Pillow Dense, sponge-like pillows that mold around the head and neck for extra support. ||Memory-foam pillows offer firm support. These are sometimes a good fit for people who may have had head or neck pain in the past. This type of pillow lasts about two years. |
Although you'll put a pillowcase on it, a pillow's protector still matters. It will extend the life of your pillow. Better pillows will have a quality fabric cover with a high thread count (the number of threads per square inch of fabric): Higher thread count covers will be softer, but more importantly, will keep the fill from getting out and impurities from getting in. Some pillow covers are additionally treated with fabric protection that makes the fabric stain- and water-repellent, as well as anti-microbial resistant.
|Size ||Measures ||Pillowcase Size ||You'll need at least |
|Standard ||20 inches by 26 inches ||Standard ||One for a twin bed |
Two for full or queen beds
Three for king or California-king
|Queen ||20 inches by 30 inches ||Standard ||Two on a double or queen bed |
|King ||20 inches by 36 inches ||King-size pillowcase ||Two on a king or California king bed |
|European ||26 inches by 26 inches ||Euro Sham ||Decorative, so it's up to your imagination. |
|Body ||20 inches by 50 inches ||Body pillowcase ||One per person |
|Travel ||12 inches by 16 inches ||Travel-size pillowcase ||One per person |