Tracking down the right sleep system is challenging for most people.
If you sustain an injury, develop a snoring habit, or become pregnant, finding the best pillow for your needs is an even taller order.
So, how can you determine which pillow will deliver a blissful night of sleep?
The recipe for success is a combination of considering your preferred sleeping position, factoring in your specific needs, and giving yourself permission to make an investment.
We know a lot about this sort of thing. Here are five steps to finding the best pillow for your bed.
Step 1: Consider Which Side You Sleep On
When you lay your head down at night, how do you settle in for slumber? What does having “the best pillow” even mean?
Most of us move around during the night, but we still have one position that really hits the spot.
Maybe you’re a side sleeper who curls up into a ball before you slip into a REM cycle.
Are you a back sleeper? There aren’t too many of you out there (The National Sleep Foundation says only 8% of sleepers choose their back).
If you’re an elusive stomach sleeper you’re practically a unicorn — the fewest number of people report sleeping this way every night. But, hey, you still deserved to be acknowledged and you need good rest, too.
According to some expert advice from physical therapists, the way you sleep can inform the type of pillow you need. Here’s a quick breakdown.
- Side Sleepers: If you cuddle up on your side, your best pillow will be firm with enough filling to occupy the space between your shoulder and head. This keeps your neck from bending at an unnatural angle during the night. Most people sleep on their side. Whether you stretch your legs out or stick to a loose fetal position, a low pillow doesn’t usually offer ample support.
- Back Sleepers: If you’re a back sleeper who loves a plush pillow…we have some bad news. What you actually need is a flatter pillow that won’t force your head forward. Sleeping for 8 hours with your chin angled down toward your chest often creates discomfort in the morning.
Your best setup may also include a second pillow under your lower back to reduce aches and pains.
- Stomach Sleepers: Listen up, unicorns. On top of being the most unlikely sleeper to find in the wild, you’re also the group most likely to go without a pillow altogether.
If you do use one, the best pillow will be slim and flat. That’s what keeps your neck in alignment throughout the night. Imagine laying on your stomach with a huge pillow — you’ll have a crick in your neck just thinking about it.
Usually finding the universal “best” of anything (including pillows) is a pipe dream.
Here’s the good news: IT IS possible to buy one pillow that works for all types of sleepers.
The Layla Pillow has a zipper that makes removing some of our Kapok fill easy. That means you can customize your Layla Pillow to be as plush or flat as you need for your preferred sleep position.
Step 2: Factor in How Hot You Get at Night
If you sleep hot you’re probably used to waking up every few hours to flip the pillow over to the cool side.
Your body doesn’t care if you’re in the middle of a sweet dream where you’re marrying Idris Elba or Sofia Vergara. It’s rude like that.
If you are nodding in agreement right now, we’re here to introduce you to your new best friend: a copper pillow.
When you’re selecting the best pillow for hot sleepers, one made of cooling materials – as opposed to down or other traditional fillers – will be the golden ticket. Copper-infused pillows draw the heat away from your body. Even better, copper is an antimicrobial, so it keeps your pillow as clean as it is cool.
For people who sleep hot, copper is almost always the right choice for your best pillow material.
Step 3: Think About Your Specific Needs
So, you’re a side sleeper who runs hot.
What else should you consider in your hunt for the perfect pillow?
Your specific pain points, for one. You also want to take into account any sleep habits or health conditions that affect the way you sleep. You may use a pillow differently, such as tucked under your lower back, depending on your current condition.
Here are a few examples of what we mean:
- Pregnant Sleepers: Pregnant and trying to catch some zzzs? We feel your struggle. It’s hard enough to get rest with your changing body, but if you were a stomach sleeper before you were expecting, you’re probably a zombie by now.
The best pillow for you is a versatile one.
One night you may need a pillow that can support your lower torso while you lay on your back, and another night you may want something to prop between your knees while you’re on your side. Memory foam and cooling copper is a great option for pregnant sleepers.
- Chronic Snorers: If you wake yourself up by snoring (or your partner’s frustrated sighs are enough to shake you out of a deep slumber), you probably don’t have the best pillow.
In fact, it may even be contributing to the issue. Snoring is related to the narrowing of your upper respiratory tract. According to a Harvard doctor, sleeping on your back is likely to make your breathing tubes narrow. You’re better off on your side with a pillow that can keep your head and neck propped up and aligned all night.
- Headache Sufferers: People who wake up with headaches should also pay special attention to their pillow selection.
You may be coming down with so much head pain because your neck is unsupported while you rest. Stick with firm support. You best pillow is one that keeps your neck and shoulders properly elevated. Your doctor may be able to inform you of the best sleeping position for your particular brand of headaches.
Step 4: Give Your Whole Bed System an Audit
A lumpy mattress paired with a nice firm pillow is a match made in The Bad Place. If you pick out an incredible foam pillow but you have mattress springs stabbing your side all night — you’re not going to be a happy camper.
The best pillow in the world can’t fix that.
You always have to ask yourself if your mattress is going to work with – or against – the pillow you choose.
Not sure your mattress is any match for a new memory foam pillow? Consider a new mattress or at least a high-quality mattress topper.
A topper lets you sync your pillow and sleeping surface without replacing the whole shebang (that’s the technical term for a mattress and box spring set). Copper-infused toppers are also great for when you’re happy with your mattress but think you could still use some extra support. In short: the best pillow for you will not be in conflict with your mattress every night. That sounds as painful as it is.
Step 5: Know that Getting the Best Pillow is an Investment
Choosing the best pillow may require a change in your mindset.
A lot of people who spend thousands of dollars on a great bedframe and quality mattress think a discount pillow will do. In reality, your pillow could affect your ability to get good rest more than any other aspect of your sleep set up.
Here are two compelling reasons we’re convinced a pillow is a smart long-term investment (and we think you’ll agree).
- Cheap Pillows Don’t Last: Plain and simple, a clearance pillow will probably flatten like a pancake in about four days.
Now, if you’re a stomach sleeper who hardly needs a pillow at all, maybe that works for you. For most of us, it just doesn’t. If you’re replacing your pillow every few months, it doesn’t matter what a great deal you got. It’s obviously not the best. Investing in a quality foam pillow is a better use of your resources.
Put more bluntly: Stop wasting your money on cheap pillows, people!
- Bad Pillows Ruin Your Life: This sounds like hyperbole. But it’s not.
A bad pillow leads to neck pain, which leads to a headache, which will literally ruin your day again and again. The best pillow for you facilitates incredible sleep and helps you jump out of bed feeling great and ready to tackle your day. If that sounds like a dream come true, it should.
We like to say a good pillow makes you more awake to life. Because that’s true. Whether you have to go to work, class, or parent all day, you need to be alert. The best pillow not only improves the quality of your sleep but your life while you’re awake.
Choosing the best pillow for your bed is a life-changing decision.
Take one road and you’re stuck on a lumpy pillow that wreaks havoc on your shoulders and neck, take another, and you’ll sleep so fitfully your FitBit will think you’re in a coma.
In all seriousness, though, choosing a good pillow is essential to self-care and good sleep. We think the Layla Pillow is the best pillow because it marries a balance of nice qualities that we all want: It’s supportive and cooling while also being soft and plush. Plus, it’s copper infused, filled with 100% natural Kapok fibers, and easy to wash.
Your REM cycles will thank you.