IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a medical site. You should always discuss medical matters with your doctor.

Choosing Pillows

Many buyers make the mistake of investing in a quality bed and mattress then leaving the choice of pillow to chance. In fact having the right pillow(s) is an important part of a good night's sleep.

I can't tell you the best pillow to buy or make the right bedding choice for you, but I can give you some information about the various options available.

As with beds and mattresses, most of us keep our pillows far too long. As a general rule pillows should usually be replaced every couple of years - cheaper ones will need replacing more frequently. You know it's time to buy a new pillow if the old one no longer has any "bounce". Fold it in half then see what happens. Does it jump back into shape quickly? Or does it return to shape gradually and reluctantly - if at all? Should you consider buying a cervical neck pillow?

Another term you're likely to come across is bolster pillow. This is essentially a long, cylindrical pillow. You usually buy (or make) a decorative case or cover and use them as a coordinating design accessory.

Firm or Soft?

The wrong pillow can ruin your sleep. A pillow that is too soft or too flat can cause neck pain, one that it too stiff or too high can cause back pain.

The right pillow for you will support your neck comfortably. The size and firmness required will depend on both your personal physiology and on the way you sleep, some sleepers like a soft, fluffy pillow whilst others prefer one that is rock hard. It's rare that two partners will find exactly the same pillow combinations ideal.

If you sleep on your stomach (in itself liable to produce muscular problems) then soft pillows are probably best for you. Those who sleep on their backs will require something a little firmer. Side sleepers probably require the most support and hence even firmer, higher pillows.

Pillow Filling

There are a wide variety of pillow fillings on the market, both natural and synthetic. Whether you prefer the old-fashioned luxury of soft down or the latest man-made materials, it's important to buy quality.

Many of the cheapest pillows either offer no support at all or else are too rigid and lack comfort. A good pillow should conform to your natural contours and provide support for your head.

See also: natural pillow fillings & synthetic pillow fillings.

If you have trouble sleeping because of the heat you might want to consider a cooling pad such as the Chillow.

Memory Foam

If you are happy with modern materials then take a look at memory foam pillows. These are basically just a shaped piece of memory foam placed inside a pillow case. Placing a memory foam pillow on top of a traditional one can be an excellent solution for some back and side sleepers. Personally I like to use a memory foam pillow placed on top of a traditional pillow to give me the necessary height to support my head and also the comfortable "moulding" of the memory foam.

Pillow Cases

Don't forget about the humble pillow case - it's the visible manifestation of your pillow. Whether you buy something decorative or plain, choose something that fits in with the overall design, theme and colour scheme of your bedroom and bedding. For something more decorative than functional a pillow sham could fit the bill.