How to Choose the Right Pillow for the Best Sleep of Your Life

Do you wake up often with a stiff neck, back, or shoulders? Do you wake up frequently during the night, or have a hard time getting to sleep? The problem could be your pillow.

The wrong pillow just won’t offer your body the support it needs to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed. If you sleep on your stomach, a firm pillow with lots of loft just won’t do. If you sleep on your side, a soft pillow with no support can create pain points in your neck and shoulders. And a cheap pillow made with low-quality ingredients could release toxic chemicals that could cause allergic reactions and other ailments. Here’s how to choose the right pillow luxury pillow to take your sleep to the next level.

Choose the Best Quality Pillow You Can Afford

When it’s time to replace your pillows — about every two years on average — you should buy the best pillow you can afford. Luxury pillows are cleaner and safer than cheap pillows, because they aren’t made with petroleum products, like polyurethane and synthetic latex, that can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VoCs). VoCs are linked to allergy and asthma symptoms, skin irritation, neurological symptoms, organ damage, cancer, and more.

Luxury pillows contain organic materials like natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. Natural latex is a VoC-free alternative to memory foam that offers firm support as well as soft springiness. Organic cotton is grown with minimal pesticides, which can make a big difference to your health, and the health of the planet, because conventional cotton is one of the world’s most pesticide-dependent crops. Organic wool is naturally flame retardant, so you don’t have to worry about any dangerous chemical flame retardants, like organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs), in your pillow. Organic fibers are also much more breathable and better for temperature regulation than chemical-soaked synthetic fibers. So, when shopping for an affordable organic pillow, choose one made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and/or Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified materials.

Grab Down or Kapok for Stomach and Back Sleepers

Stomach and back sleepers need a soft, squishy pillow because your head and neck need minimal support when sleeping in one of these positions. Your pillow only needs enough loft to keep your spine in alignment, and a thick, firm pillow with a high loft will force your next into an unnaturally craned position if you use it in any other sleeping position than on your side.

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Premium down, made from the silky under feathers of birds, or kapok, made from the silk of the kapok tree, are both great options for a soft, fluffy, squishy pillow. Kapok is a newer pillow filling material that offers a very down-like, vegan alternative to down, and it’s naturally hypoallergenic, washable, and eco-friendly. Down is the classic choice in pillow stuffing, but it does tend to clump up inside the pillow, so you’ll need to plump your pillows every night.

Choose Buckwheat or Latex Foam for Side Sleepers

Side sleepers need firm support to cushion their heads and keep their spines in alignment all night long. Memory foam was a popular choice once upon a time, but it’s gone out of fashion because it tends to sleep hot, and also because more people have become aware that memory foam is toxic. Latex foam is the safe alternative. It’s made with the sap of the rubber tree, so it’s eco-friendly and chemical free. You won’t get any off-gassing from a latex foam pillow, though you might detect a faint rubber smell, because that’s essentially what it is.

If you want a firm pillow that conforms quickly to your body each time you change position, without sleeping hot, choose a buckwheat pillow. Buckwheat has been a traditional pillow filling in Japan, because it stays cool and cradles the head and neck even when you change positions.

Standard, Queen, or King-Sized?

The size pillow you need will vary depending on your sleeping style. Stomach sleepers need a longer pillow that can support the torso and take pressure off the lower back — so, a queen- or king-sized. But back and side sleepers will be fine with a standard-sized pillow. Of course, if you like to pile up pillows to lean against while reading or watching TV in bed, you may want a larger size.

When it comes to getting your best night’s sleep, just any old pillow won’t do. You need a luxury pillow made with high-quality ingredients that can offer you the same support night after night, for years. Once you try one, you’ll never want to go back to cheap pillows again.

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