When it comes to pillows, there’s something for everyone nowadays - you can choose between different sizes, materials, firmness, designs and fillings. But precisely this breadth of options can lead to choice overload, which paradoxically makes it harder to make a decision at all, much less the right one.
So which pillow is the right one for me? How do I find out which pillow is best for neck pain? Are there special pillows for side sleepers? In our guide, we’ll try to make the choice a little easier for you and show you how to find the perfect pillow.
What is a pillow’s purpose?
For most people, their pillow is part of their bed and bedroom’s basic equipment. Your pillow isn’t not only important for your bed’s look, but also adds to your bedroom’s coziness factor. However, a pillow performs other tasks that many overlook when buying.
A pillow can significantly contribute to the quality of our sleep, because the pillow influences the posture your body holds for several hours. Your pillow provides support for the head, thereby relieving the body. This prevents the head from bending too far forwards or backwards and the neck muscles from being overstretched.
Incorrect posture during sleep can lead to muscular tension in the neck and back the next morning. For some people, the wrong pillow can even trigger a headache the next day. If you wake up feeling tension or pain, you should ask yourself if your spine is being placed in a bad position by your bed or pillow.
Which factors are important when choosing a new pillow?
When you decide to buy a new pillow, consider the following three questions:
- Which sleeping position do I prefer?
- What type of pillow (filling) suits me best?
- What size pillow do I need?
The sleeping position
As mentioned above, the purpose of a pillow is to fill the space between the mattress and the head in such a way that the cervical spine is held in a safe position. The shape of this space can vary depending on the sleeping position, which is why the pillow should fit the sleeping position in which you spend the most amount of time.
Therefore, in the following paragraph we will show you the most common sleeping positions and explain which pillow is best suited for each position.
Pillows for side sleepers
The space between the mattress and the neck is greatest for side sleepers, so the height of the pillow should fit the width of the shoulders. A narrow pillow of size 40x60 cm or 40x80 cm is a good choice for most people, as these pillow sizes allow the shoulder to sink into the mattress. It is important that the pillow not be placed under the shoulders, as this places the cervical spine in an unhealthy position.
Since everyone’s body is different, it can be a good idea to try out the pillow in the store beforehand. When doing this, it is also a good idea to ask someone if your spine forms a straight line while you’re lying down. Your shoulders should be positioned at a right angle vis-a-vis the mattress. Ergonomically-shaped neck pillows, side sleeper pillows or soap-shaped pillows are all good choices for side sleepers.
Zizzz pillows can be returned for a full refund within thirty days, so it’s just like trying them out in a store!
Pillows for those who sleep on their back
Back sleepers shouldn’t use pillows which are too tall. Rather, flat pillows are recommended, as they allow the body to lie horizontally on the mattress. Neck support pillows for back sleepers are ergonomically inclined in the lower area in order to support the neck vertebrae.
As for side sleepers, back sleepers should also avoid placing their pillows below the shoulders. It is for this reason that doctors generally recommend thin or narrow pillows for back sleepers. If you have a curved spine or scoliosis, your pillow should be a little taller than others.
Pillows for people who like to sleep on their stomach
Sleep specialists generally advise against remaining in a prone position for too long, as this posture overstretches the neck. Indeed, the prone position is the least-recommended sleeping position. If you still like to sleep on your stomach, it is best to do so without a pillow. The pillow causes the spine to bend and the neck vertebrae to twist. In the worst case, this position can lead to scoliosis.
There are special pillows for stomach sleepers, which are equipped with a hollow space in the middle. These pillows not only provide relief for the cervical spine, but also make breathing easier because the head and nose cannot sink into the pillow.
How do I find the best filling for my pillow?
Most of us certainly use a classic feather pillow. But nowadays, pillows not only come in different shapes, but also with different fillings. We would like to introduce you to a few of these fillings in the following paragraphs.
Down or feather pillows
One of the main differences between down and feathers is that the former lack the hard quill present in the latter. This makes down noticeably softer than feathers. So in a pillow, down is responsible for the softness and feathers for the necessary firmness.
Some pillows allow the proportion of down to feathers to be adjusted to fit one’s preferences. A 3-chamber construction is especially recommended for neck pillows. Since down is very warm, these pillows are especially suitable for people who often feel cold at night.
Pillows made with wadded cotton or synthetics
Wadded fillings can be made of lyocell or polyester. In terms of weight, pillows with wadded cotton or polyester are very light and are suitable for people who prefer a light, fluffy pillow, which doesn’t offer a great deal of support.
The quality of this type of pillow and its lifespan vary according to its price. Most pillows with wadded cotton filling are additionally processed with fleece to prevent the filling from clumping together.
Pillows filled with animal hair
Camel fluff, horsehair and virgin sheep’s wool are the most common types of animal hair used as the filling material for pillows. Pure virgin sheep’s wool is very soft, adaptable and has a good insulator. In addition, pillows with animal hair are breathable, so they regulate moisture well and are therefore well-suited for people who tend to sweat heavily at night.
At Zizzz, we offer pillows filled with pure virgin sheep’s wool from sheep raised in the Swiss Alps.
Pillows with natural fillings
Pillows with other types of natural fillings are usually filled with grains like millet or spelt, and are slightly firmer than other pillows. These pillows have a massage-like effect and can promote blood circulation.
However, they are not as suitable as neck pillows, as they don’t provide sufficient support for the neck.
Pillows with foam fillings
These pillows usually have fillings made from visco foam or gel foam. Visco foam is a thermoelastic foam and provides a comfortable, cradling feeling and a great level of support. Since the foam adapts to the shape of the head, these pillows aren’t great for people who frequently change their sleeping positions.
Gel foam is a better fit if you often toss and turn while you sleep. Moreover, a gel foam pillow provides a very comfortable sleeping environment, which is why they are a good fit for people who often sweat during the night.
How tall should my pillow be?
The answer to this question depends on your favored sleep position, as well as your own size and body type. Those with broad shoulders, for example, should use a taller pillow than someone with narrow shoulders.
Which pillow is best for neck pain?
For those who suffer from neck pain, a narrow, tall pillow is best. Neck pain sufferers should try a pillow that offers more support, such as a wedge-shaped pillow. As there are different types of neck pain and different causes, it's best to consult an expert if you want to know which pillow is best for neck pain.
Pillows at Zizzz
At Zizzz, we offer different types of pillows, so you are guaranteed to find the one that’s right for you. With us, you can choose between down pillows or pillows filled with virgin sheep's wool.
All our down pillows are ethically produced and have been awarded the Down-Pass seal. Our pillows come in 6 different sizes so that they fit perfectly under your neck.