For the vast majority of people, the way your bed is put together wasn't exactly intentional. Unless you're furnishing a home from scratch, beds come together in a sort of hodge-podge of pieces. Your mattress might have been bought new in the last decade. Or perhaps you inherited it from a family member or grabbed it at a bargain sale a few years back. Sheets may come in complete sets, but we tend to buy them at different times meaning some of your sheets will be newer than others and in many cases, at least one set is made of mix-matched leftovers from other sets. Finally, we come to the pillows.
Where did you get your most recent pillows, exactly? Do you even remember? And how do you find the best pillow for all positions? Pillows are something few people think about because they simply become a permanent and integral part of the bed. Pillows are often bought one or two at a time, often chosen by feel based on your personal preferences for softness, fullness, or squishiness. The problem is that even choosing by hand, most people don't actually know what they need from a pillow. The amount of support and comfort provided by a pillow can actually be optimized based on the way you sleep and what you need from soft head support.
Personal Pillow Preference
While we don't know precisely what the right pillow for the job is, most of us do have a pretty good idea of what is the most comfortable, what works, and what doesn't. For example, we all have a threshold for fluffiness. Too much fluff and the pillow will be too thick to be comfortable while too little is like sleeping without a pillow at all. We all have a pillow preference for what feels right and sticking to this simple preference will likely lead you to the perfect pillow for your sleeping style.
The pillows are your bed right now are a great starting point. If you have a pile of pillows, take note of which ones are your least favorite. What is it about the pillows that you don't prefer? Are they too firm, to narrow, to fluffy? This will tell you what not to look for. Now think about the pillows you use for your head. Couples who share beds often wind up with two completely different pillows at the head of the bed and studying the differences between these can tell you a lot about sleep preference, position, and neck comfort.
Pillows and Sleep Position
There is a common misconception that any soft fluffy pillow is luxuriously comfortable to sleep on. While fluffy pillows are great, they're not actually the right solution for everyone. The pillows you choose will be inevitably influenced by your preferred sleep position and the quality of your sleep can be determined by how well your pillow matches with your sleep position. And it's not all subjective factors like comfort and preference.
The right pillow will have you waking up energized and deeply comfortable every morning but the wrong pillow can leave you waking up achy and cranky after the reduced quality of your sleep. A pillow that is too fluffy will push the head forward, putting stress on your neck and potentially pushing the chin down into your chest. Not a comfortable position. However, a pillow that is too flat doesn't provide ample support for your neck and head. This can cause your head to tip too far back when you sleep which puts pressure on your neck and adds stress to your shoulder.
No matter what your sleeping position is, the key to a deep comfortable night's sleep is a pillow that is not too fluffy, not too flat, but just right. We have some tips for finding the best pillow for all positions. Take a look:
Pillows for Back Sleepers
Sleeping on your back is the doctor-recommended method but it can also be pretty stressful for the neck and shoulders if done incorrectly. This is the position where you are most likely to find the pillow either pressing your chin into your chest or with your head tilted back uncomfortably. If your head tilts backward (the sinus-draining position) when resting on your pillow, your pillow is too flat. If your head tilts forward, even a little bit, then your pillow is too fluffy and you could wake up with neck pain or breathing problems.
Back sleepers usually need a medium-firm pillow with a certain amount of moldability. This will allow the pillow to conform to the shape of your neck and offer additional support all the way around the head.
Pillows for Side Sleepers
Most people sleep on their sides either as their dominant or secondary sleeping position. Side sleeping requires the tallest pillow solutions because the shoulder creates additional distance between the mattress and the right level for your head. However, it can be tricky to find just the right height of pillow. If your pillows are too fluffy, it will push your head out and to the side, stretching your neck to eventual discomfort. If your pillows are too soft or flat, your head will tilt inward, causing your neck muscles to pull on your upper shoulder. Side sleepers usually benefit from firm pillows that offer a good deal of support. However, if you prefer to stack your pillows, try two soft ones instead.
Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
Then there are those who like to sleep on their stomachs. This is the least doctor recommended sleep position but is still found to be one of the most comfortable ways to catch some zzz's. Stomach sleeping generally leaves your body slightly sprawled with your head turned sharply to the side against the pillow. Stomach sleeping brings your head the closest to the mattress than any other position and therefore would benefit from a low squishy pillow. Down pillows are quite popular for stomach sleepers because they are very moldable and make it possible to craft a custom pillow support. Of course, with a nice pillow-top, some stomach sleepers don't need any pillows at all.
The Right Pillow for the Job
The right kind of pillow for you will depend on a combination of your sleep position and personal size. Larger people may need bigger, firmer pillows to compensate for larger shoulders while smaller sleepers might focus more on squishy pillows that can conform around small shoulders. Whether you're a back sleeper, side sleeper, stomach sleeper, or something we haven't heard of before, finding the best pillow for all positions is all about what lets you wake up with zero neck or shoulder discomfort. From fluffy to flat, from squishy to firm, don't be shy to try out a few pillows until you find exactly the right one for you. For more information about how to choose comfortable bedding and improve your sleep quality, contact us today!