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Choosing the Right Pillow for You

Nothing beats resting your head on the perfect pillow after a long, hard day. But with so many types of pillows available, how do you choose the best pillow for you? 

Often, when we think of our “dream pillow,” something big, soft, and fluffy comes to mind. In reality, the “right” pillow is one that supports the curve of your spine while keeping your head, neck, and back neutrally aligned. Sometimes this can still be that big, soft, fluffy pillow. But other sleepers may need something different.  

Read on to figure out how to choose the pillow that will provide the best support for you, and in turn, the best sleep. 

Table of Contents

Pillow Terms  
Pillow Sizes  
Types of Pillows  
Which Pillow is Right for Me?  
Sleeping Positions 
Your Weight & Build 
Mattress Firmness 
Cooling Qualities / Breathability 

Pillow Terms 

There are a few terms you may be unfamiliar with when it comes to pillow shopping. Before we dive into choosing the best place to rest your head, here are a few key words we’ll be using when talking about different pillows. 


Pillow loft refers to the height or thickness of the pillow once your head is resting on it. Pillows usually come in low, medium, or high lofts. A proper pillow loft is important when it comes to sleeping in a healthy position. A pillow that is too thick or too thin can cause neck, back, or shoulder pain, or even lead to breathing difficulties.  


Pillow fill is essentially what makes up the bulk of the pillow. It’s what’s inside the pillow casing that gives a pillow its “fluff.” A pillow’s fill can affect the pillow’s loft, so it’s important to find a good balance between the two. 


Pillow firmness speaks for itself, but generally refers to the amount of give a pillow provides. Pillow firmness is typically a matter of personal preference, but it can affect the alignment of your neck and spine. Different materials typically result in different levels of pillow firmness.  



Pillow Sizes

Standard pillow size dimensions: 20 in x 26 in | 51 cm x 56 cm 
Queen pillow size dimensions: 20 in x 30 in | 51 cm x 76 cm 
King pillow dimensions: 20 in x 36 in | 51 cm x 92 cm 


Types of Pillows 

There are a variety of pillow types — from the kind you get in a double-pack at your local discount store to luxurious, high-end ergonomic and therapeutic pillows. Here, we’ll discuss the most common types of pillows and their general loft, firmness, and filling options to help you narrow down your pillow search.  


Standard Pillow 

Standard pillows are the most common pillows and are easily found in most local stores. The typical dimensions for a standard pillow are 20 inches by 26 inches, and they come with a variety of stuffing options and a wide price range. Typically made of cotton or polyester, standard pillows are generally the cheapest pillow option. However, standard pillows will not be the best fit for every sleeper.  


Cotton Pillow 

Cotton-filled pillows are a great hypoallergenic pillow option. They are easy to find, regulate temperature decently, and are a great alternative to people who are allergic to down or feathers. Cotton pillows are easy to wash and keep clean. However, they can get lumpy with age, and may need to be replaced more frequently if they’re not well-maintained.  



Gel Pillow 

Gel pillows are ideal for those who tend to overheat during the night. These pillows take the advanced cooling properties of gel and combine them with another material, such as memory foam, to provide support. Cooling gel pillows can also be great at soothing neck aches or headaches. They’re excellent options for people with allergies and are generally easy to maintain.  





Memory Foam Pillow 

Memory foam pillows are becoming increasingly popular. They adapt to the curves and contours of your head and neck and can help keep your spine in alignment so you sleep comfortably. Memory foam pillows can be great for sleepers with neck pain. Just keep in mind that some memory foam pillows are extremely dense, which can restrict airflow and retains body heat. If you’re interested in a memory foam pillow but tend to sleep hot, look for memory foam with cooling capabilities 


Feather Pillow 

Typically made of duck or goose feathers, these pillows are known for being large, soft, and fluffy. Feather pillows keep their shape over time and are practically weightless. They can, however, cause issues for allergy-sufferers. Feather pillows are difficult to clean and need to be fluffed often in order to maintain their loft. They also tend to retain heat, so they’re not recommended for hot sleepers or warm summer months.  



Down Pillow 

Down pillows, like feather pillows, also come from geese or ducks. Sometimes, these pillows are a combination of down and feathers. These pillows are notably soft, lightweight, and durable. Unfortunately, they are not always the best choice for sleepers with allergies. When looking at both down and feather pillows, you may also want to consider how the fill is sourced — not every pillow is ethically produced.  


Latex Pillow 

Latex pillows are typically looked at as an alternative to memory foam pillows. They usually provide good head and neck support and work well for spinal alignment. Latex pillows are extremely durable and usually resist dust and mites. Unfortunately, latex pillows are prone to having a strong odor, and can also lead to allergic reactions in those with latex sensitivities.