How to Choose the Right Pillow for You

Q: Can the kind of pillow I use help improve my sleep?

A: Your pillow and mattress are literally the foundation of a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, many people make do with an inferior pillow. In fact, in a study of pillow choices and sleep satisfaction in Physiotherapy Canada, everyone who reported poor sleep quality also reported poor pillow comfort.

Q: How do I know which pillow is best for me?

A: Being aware of your sleep habits is key. If you sleep on your side, you need a different pillow than if you sleep on your stomach.

A pillow should not push your head in any direction, but instead should keep your head and neck in alignment with your body. To maintain that neutral position, back sleepers should opt for slightly thinner pillows and side sleepers for slightly thicker pillows. Pregnant women may appreciate a body pillow, which is oversized to support the length of the body. It’s also good when you’re transitioning from sleeping on your back to side.

Q: There are so many pillow fillings, from feathers to foam. How do I decide among them?

A: A lot depends on your personal preference, but you should consider choosing pillows made from hypoallergenic materials. They can help if you have allergies to dust or mold that can accumulate in pillows. If menopausal symptoms are interfering with your sleep, pillows made from breathable materials may help reduce night sweats. And for neck support, an orthopedic pillow may be a good choice for comfort. This type of pillow is designed to fill the spaces under your head and provide extra support under your neck.

Q: How long can pillows last?

A: Ideally, you should replace your pillows every two years. You can test your pillow by folding it in half. If it springs back, you have a healthy pillow that can support your head, neck and spine. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s a dead pillow and you need a new one.