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Bed Pillow Buying Guide

There are so many bed pillows under 500$ available on the market today that it is hard to figure out which one to choose. Many of them seem to offer the same support, but in a different style. So, how do you know which one will work the best for you?

1) Casa Copenhagen Wispy 2 pack, 16 x 24 inches, Pillow | 2) GhostPillow Queen Pillow | 3) GOTS-Certified Organic Wool Body Pillow | 4) Superior 100% Down 700 Fill Power Hungarian White Goose Down Pillow | 5) Tempur-Pedic Grand King Pillow | 6) Downright 360 Thread Count 16 oz Logana Down Pillow | 7) ELNLIVING LTD., Hypoallergenic White Duck Down Pillow | 8) Hotel Collection European White Goose Down Firm King Pillow | 9) Hotel Collection White Down Pillow | 10) Hypoallergenic Down & Feather Fill Stomach Sleeper’s Delight Pillow | 11) Northwood Down 800 Fill Power European White Goose Down 366 Thread Count Pillow | 12) Pacific Coast Double Down Surround King Size 4-Pillow Set With 4 King Size Pillowtex Pillow | 13) Pandora de Balthazar European Luxury Bedding Climarelle Hypoallergenic Pillow | 14) Soft-Tex SensorPedic Classic COMFORT Traditional 2-Pack Pillow | 15) Premium Quality European 800 Fill Power 100% White Goose Down Pillow Set | 16) TRIUMPH HILL Down Bed Pillow | 17) Cloud Nine Comforts Super Nova Hungarian White Goose Down Pillow | 18) Hotel King Chamber Pillow | 19) Pandora de Balthazar European Luxury Hungarian Goose Feather Down Pillow | 20) Hotel Collection European White Goose Down Firm Support King Pillow |

We spend a third of our lives in bed (and how we sleep certainly affects the other two-thirds), so the humble pillow is actually quite the important purchase.

“Patients come to me in pain, and I know their pillow isn’t keeping their neck aligned with their spine,” says Dr. Darren Pollack, chiropractor and medical director of DASHA Wellness & Spa. “Overtime, this wear-and-tear can cause muscle stiffness, tendonitis, nerve pain, herniated discs, and more.” Here’s how to make the best choice when shopping the pillow aisle:

1. Recognize when it might be time for a replacement

Pillows simply don’t last forever, so keep an eye out for lumps and sagging. “If you have a traditional fiberfill pillow, fold it in half and place a book on top of it,” says Lexie Sachs, textiles analyst in the Good Housekeeping Institute. “If it springs back to shape, it’s still good. But if it stays folded in half, it’s time for a new one.” Memory foam pillows that are crumbly or no longer hold their shape also need to go.

2. Get to know the materials

“Down pillows tend to be the fluffiest, but a combination of down with feather will be less expensive,” says Sachs. A pillow made out of a synthetic fill or down alternative will also probably be cheaper, and still feel soft while offering supportive resistance. And memory foam pillows tend to be thicker and firmer.

“You also want to make sure that the outer fabric is tightly woven to keep the fill in and allergens out,” says Sachs. “The stitching should be very tight, and no feathers or fibers should poke out.”

3. Then, consider how you sleep

A pillow’s material can tend to determine how supportive it is, but its thickness makes a significant difference, too. For instance, you can find thick down pillows in the market, and even memory foam’s texture can vary, says Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., an environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation.

“In general, side sleepers need a thicker pillow, stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow, and a back sleeper will fall somewhere in between,” says Dautovich.

But it’s very possible you’re an exception to these guidelines. “It’s all about the position of your neck,” says Dr. Pollack. “It should align with your spine in a neutral position as you sleep. So I like to recommend a hybrid pillow that has a memory foam core surrounded with a softer down or synthetic layer. This version offers support and comfort, and can adapt as you change position throughout the night.”

4. Note how you’ll need to care for it

“Before purchasing a pillow, check the care label to make sure you’re willing to wash it as recommended,” says Sachs. “Most are machine washable, but some are dry clean only, have front-loading machine restrictions, or only allow spot-treating. Your pillow will last longer if you wash it two to four times a year, and if you use a pillow protector to keep it clean and safe from wear.”

5. Test it out before you commit

Just like you would when you buy a mattress, you should rest your head on a pillow to see if it’s right for you. If you can, try it out for at least 10 minutes in the store, but if that’s not possible, test it at home before removing the plastic wrap. If you feel your neck tipping forward or backward, or have any other discomfort, return it.

6. You might not need the same type of pillow forever

Health-related changes (like weight fluctuation, new aches and pains, or other changes in your body as you age) affect the type of support you need, says Dautovich. So if the type of pillow you’ve used for years is no longer comfortable, it’s time to consider something new.

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