Once upon a time, in a bedtime story long ago, sleep-pillow choices were relatively few. But in these days of high-tech, high-speed, high-intensity everything, even the market for bed pillows has become—dare we say—a nightmare to navigate, thanks to an overwhelming number of choices. Here's how to simplify the search and rest easy come sleep time.
Sleep pillows vary in four chief ways: their height, their length, the stuffing inside and the case that holds the stuffing.
Height: Pillow heights vary more than you might realize. To choose the right height for you, factor in how you sleep and your body size. Side sleepers need a medium to high pillow, to fill the gap space created by sleeping on your shoulder. Tummy and back sleepers want a low to medium height pillow, based mostly on body size. The smaller you are, the lower the pillow height that you want.
Length: That's usually dictated by the bed size, and is more an aesthetic choice than a sleep choice. Two standard pillows will span a full-size bed; two queens span a queen-size bed; two king-sized pillows span a king-sized bed.
Casing: All that stuffing has to go into something. What you want is a high-quality cotton casing with a thread count of 350 per square inch or higher. Some pillow casings have zippers, which allows you to adjust the stuffing inside.
Stuffing: There are many types of pillow stuffing, but three have long dominated the market.
High-Density Foam: By far the biggest trend of recent years in beds and pillows is high-density foam. First developed for NASA to help solve the problem of the tremendous g-force pressures put on astronauts, this foam contours perfectly to your body, softens to your body heat, yet bounces back to original shape almost instantly. Very expensive, but incredibly comfortable.
Neck Pillows: They look a little like two waves on a single pillow: a lower peak at the front of the pillow supports your neck. Your head then is cradled in a valley of foam, supported by a bigger wave at the back. Back sleepers who don't move a lot at night find these to be wonderfully supportive and comfy. Restless sleepers aren't nearly as enamored.
Japanese-Style Buckwheat Pillows: These pillows are stuffed with the well-cleaned hulls of a buckwheat stalk. Users swear by their comfort—in one study of customer satisfaction of 10 pillow types, buckwheat came in second—and appreciate their often-organic materials.
Gel-Filled Pillows: Sounds odd, but they don't actually have a liquid gel in them, but a new breed of polyester "gel" microfibers that closely resemble goose down. They are poofier and softer than standard polyester pillows, but still offer good support and bounce back, and are cheaper than down pillows.
1. No cushioning lasts forever. In general, get yourself a new sleeping pillow every two years.
2. Before shopping for a new pillow, answer these key questions. Do you sleep on your back? Do you cuddle with your pillow, or do you prefer something dense and solid? Are allergies an issue? With your answers in hand, you can immediately cut your choices in half.
3. Don't equate price to quality. Down pillows are generally the most expensive, but their customer satisfaction isn't as high as many lower-cost types, and aren't even appropriate for many sleepers.
4. If you do prefer down or feather pillows, spend a little more to get a higher percentage of down. Feathers often poke through the casings, and aren't as soft as down.
5. Before buying a pillow, check all the sewing. You want tight, well-sewn seams.
6. Want to study up more? Check out sleeplikethedead.com, which bills itself as "an educational website to help you get a good night's sleep...every night." The site features a detailed comparison chart of the different pillow types.
No one’s said anything yet! Log in or
create an account to be the first.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.