How to find the best pillow for you

Sleeping man

Choosing the best pillow for you is essential to good quality sleep, which affects everything we do in our waking hours. If you drew a line from the moment you woke up to the time you went to bed, you will nearly always trace it back to your bed. Your day will start in the same place it ends, so we need to add some value items to our sleeping time, and what better way to start than with a bit of pillow talk.

There are so many different choices out there these days, and knowing which pillow is going to be the best one for you, can feel like quite a chore! Below is the low-down on the humble pillow and the pro’s and con’s of the different materials, shapes and sizes on offer.  Before you shop online – take a look at our online buying guide.

Things to consider before you find your pillow

There are some steps you can take before heading to the experts that will ensure your purchase decision has been thoroughly considered. Ask yourself the following questions.  If you would like to, print and fill out the image below, and take it pillow shopping so you know what you are after.

  • What position do I sleep in the most?
  • Which position is the most comfortable for me?
  • Do I sleep on my back, side, stomach or is it a mix?
  • Do I need to consider any medical conditions, like asthma, allergies, or back & neck pain?  If you suffer from allergies remember to wash your bedding regularly.
  • Will I be sticking to a budget? (Costs can vary substantially)
  • Can I research my selections online before deciding on a purchase?
  • Am I after a specialty pillow for snoring or sleep apnea?  For example, this pillow from Dentons is specifically designed to stop snoring.

Things to consider before buying a new pillow

Different pillow materials

Like any good book you read, you can’t judge it by the cover, so you need to first look at what’s inside. A pillow can be filled with latex or memory foam, goose down or feathers, Synthetic polyester or microfiber and even gel!

Latex Pillows

These pillows are made from latex rubber, which comes from the rubber tree, and they can help support the neck & back plus they are also great for people who suffer from allergies.  We love this natural latex pillow from TLC Pillows.

Positives: Latex is free from chemicals, and is a 100% natural material. It’s really long lasting, and it moulds to your head and neck, providing a firm but cushioned sleep support.

Negatives: When you want the top of the range, you have to pay for it. These pillows can be expensive.

Memory Foam Pillows

A memory foam pillow feels quite dense to touch in its structure and it reacts to body heat and pressure, moulding to the head and neck in seconds. It easily adjusts to your head shape and has the ability to distribute the weight evenly.

Positives: It is extremely supportive, and is said to help with reoccurring neck, back or shoulder issues.

Negatives: Can trap to much body heat and be uncomfortable in warm climates & sometimes the material can give off a smell, or cause breathing issues. Can also be expensive.

Contour Pillows

Designed originally for back sleepers, the contour pillow is shaped to support the head when laying on your back or side. Materials such as memory foam can be used in these pillows.  The Dunlopillo Dual Contour pillow is an innovative and supportive example of a contour pillow.

Positives: Helps your body keep a good posture while sleeping & is very supportive to the back and neck.

Negatives: You can’t use this type of pillow if you sleep on your stomach.

Down Pillows

Down are very fluffy feathers, so these pillows are light and soft to sleep on. These pillows are very popular with stomach sleepers who like their pillow to have a lot of cushion. Please take the time to check that your down pillow is responsibly and ethically soured.

Positives: They are very easy to care for and they are long-lasting, and because they are so light, they breathe really well, so if you tend to be hot at night it can help reduce perspiration.

Negatives: For such quality, expect to pay for it. They can be very expensive. You also need to shake and fluff the pillows regularly and this material can conflict with allergies.

Feather Pillows

Similar to down, however not the same level of quality. The feather pillows were the original version so down has superseded them in quality.

Positives: Still offering a quality level of softness, they are also very durable, light weight and flexible.  Plus they are cheaper than down pillows.

Negatives: Like with down pillows, feather pillows require constant shaking and fluffing. They also can develop an odour, and don’t always work well with allergies. The other thing with feathers is they can poke through sometimes, although the manufacturers have taken steps to address this issue with higher quality casing.

Polyester Pillows

If there are any pillows you need to avoid, it’s this one. The filling inside is all man made and is the cheapest pillow of them all.  However, they do have a place as second pillows, display pillows and spare pillows.  They also make handy guest pillows, because they are machine washable.

Positives: Cheap to purchase and are washable.

Negatives: Poor ventilation and offers little neck support and can be prone to dust mites. They start out bouncy but the initial height soon flattens out.

Microfibre Pillows

These pillows are a different type of polyester, more of an upgrade in manufacturing. The filling process involves the material being blown in, so they are fuller in density.

Positives: Microfibre is an affordable option, and one step up from the base model which is the straight polyester. A good quality version would be suitable for an allergy sufferer, compared to feathers or wool and offer a breathable quality.

Negatives: Still at the synthetic end of the scale, they have low support benefits.

New and innovative pillow solutions are being thought of everyday.  Although, the ones mentioned above are the most common at the moment, there are plenty of others available.  If none of the above seem right for you, you might like to consider; wool pillows, silk pillows, bamboo pillows, tea tree pillows, recycled plastic pillows or corn fibre pillows.

Pillow Sizes & Profiles

Pillows also come in different profiles and heights, but there are 3 general sizes available in Australia.

Standard 48cm x 75cm

King 48cm x 90cm

European 65cm x 65cm

Most of the time you will be able to choose between a soft, medium or firm pillow, so before you get started, examine the way you sleep. Follow the questions at the start of this article and find out which way you sleep as this will influence your pillow choice.

If you are sleeping on your side or back then a firmer pillow will be recommended for you, and a softer pillow would be used by people who sleep on their stomach. Medium is a good choice for most people who mix up their sleep positions and it’s by far the most popular one on the market.

Find the best pillow and sleep well!

Please note:  This article is not to be used as medical advice.  If you are considering a sleep treatment please consult your doctor or medical professional.  This post may contain affiliate links.

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10 replies
  1. Ally says:

    Great article! I am actually in the process of replacing our pillows and have been overwhelmed with all the options. This is a great breakdown of what each means and which is better, best or worst.

  2. Veronika says:

    I LOVE MY DOWN PILLOW. THE ONLY BAD THING ABOUT IT IS THAT IT’S NOT REALLY WASHABLE. I washed it the moment I got it but had hard time to dry it afterwards.


  3. Marla Hollander says:

    I sleep on my sides always. And, I have spent a small fortune on pillows. I have not,to this day,found one I like! Please help if you are able.I tried a latex pillow at my brothers house and it seemed more comfortable than any I’ve purchased. Where can I get one?


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