Living WellSleep

4 Things to Know When Shopping for a Pillow

January 15, 2018 0 comments

New Year, New You? Meh. How about New Year, New Pillow? Here are our 4 favorite must-knows for choosing the right pillow: When, What, How & Why. Follow these tips before shopping, and your ultimate rest awaits.


Sleep experts say to keep the pillow you sleep on for 2 years, max. Ever notice your pillow gets denser over time? Here’s why. Prepare to cringe. Think about what you put on your hair or face before bedtime. Face oils, night creams, leave-in hair conditioners, etc. As pillows age, they can absorb your dead skin cells, mold or mildew, fungus, and dust mites. And these things can apparently make up for more than half a pillow’s weight. Do you want your freshly cleaned face or recent blowout sleeping on THAT!?

Here’s a good test we learned from the Good Housekeeping Institute. If you have a fiber-fill pillow, fold it in half and place a book on top of it. If you remove the book and your pillow springs back into shape, it’s still good. If it stays folded in half, say your goodbyes.

This works for Memory Foam pillows, too. And if it feels crumbly inside, this is also a sign its time has come.


Knowing what kind of fill you want ahead of time will alleviate you from becoming overwhelmed by all the different pillow options. Down-filled pillows tend to be the fluffiest, but a combination of Down and feathers can be less expensive and still offer a lot of support. Same with Down and foam. Jennifer’s a fan! 

Here’s what to look for in each type of pillow filling:

Foam: The higher the density number, the more support you will get, without it becoming too soft.

Memory foam: These tend to be thicker and firmer. They’re popular because they reduce pressure points by continuously molding and adjusting to your unique shape as you move throughout the night.

Latex: This is the firmest type of pillow, said to resist mold and dust mites. Often they are contoured for neck support. Latex is a definite try-before-you-buy pillow, as not everyone is a fan.

Wool/cotton: These pillows use hypo-allergenic fillers and can be on the firmer side. If you’re into squishy pillows, these won’t be up your alley.

Down/feather: Sleep experts recommend these because you can move the stuffing around to where you need the most support.

Whatever you choose, always make sure the outer fabric is stitched tightly to keep the fill in and allergens out. We’ve all had a pillow at some point with a feather or fiber poking through the fabric.


Try to take note of what position you wake up in each morning. That’s usually how you’ve slept most of the night. The goal is for your neck and spine to align in a neutral position as you sleep. Which is why experts often recommend a hybrid of Memory foam surrounded by a softer layer – like Down. This type of pillow offers both support and comfort.

In general:

Side sleepers need a thicker/firmer pillow that can fill in the area between your ear and outer shoulder.

Stomach sleepers need a thinner, flatter pillow.

Back sleepers fall somewhere in between, and often prefer extra filling to cradle their necks.


Like most things in life, what works for you today is bound to change over time. Whenever you go pillow shopping, rerun the checklist and see if your needs have changed. Injuries, weight fluctuation, and new aches & pains can affect the type of support you need at night. Age, ailments and weight gain can also induce snoring. Raising the level of your head can help in this case.

You spend approximately one third of your life in bed. Sleep is the time to reset yourself. Spend it in comfort… so you’re prepped to take on the other two thirds of your life.

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