It's not a great feeling when you toss and turn all night and can't seem to either get to sleep or stay asleep. While there are a number of things that can cause restlessness, your pillow could be the main culprit.
Pillows aren't a one-size-fits-all sleep accessory. Instead, the right pillow to send you off into dreamland comes down to your comfort, preference, and preferred sleeping position.
With a myriad of pillow types and choices on the market, it might seem like an overwhelming task to choose the one that works best for you. By learning about the different pillow types for different sleepers, you can find a proper pillow for your sleeping style.
Below is a primer with information on what type of pillow might be best for the kind of sleeper you are.
Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers need only a little support. So, if you sleep on your belly, look for a low-loft pillow. Loft represents the height or profile of a pillow. A low-loft pillow lies fairly flat on your bed.
As a stomach sleeper, you probably prefer a thin pillow, which you can use under your chest, head or stomach. A thin pillow keeps you from hyper-extending your neck. And in some cases, you might not even need a pillow at all.
Pillows for the Back Sleepers
Chiropractor John Schubbe, DC says back sleepers should use a pillow that supports the natural curvature of the cervical spine to allow enough support for the shoulders, neck, and head. And in a Business Insider article, Bloomingdale's, Emily Hull-Martin recommends that back sleepers use a medium firm pillow.
As a back sleeper, your pillow height should be lower than if you sleep on your side. You can also place a pillow underneath your knees for additional back support.
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
An extra firm pillow is well suited for the side sleeper since it allows you to maintain the curve of your head and neck and stay in proper alignment. A study published in Consumer Reports showed that a pillow with a height that’s approximately four inches off the mattress is the most comfortable height for side sleepers.
Some examples of comfortable pillows for the side sleeper such as yourself include:
- Soft latex pillow that gives you enough support for neck pain and maintains its shape for years.
- Orthopedic pillow like a memory foam pillow. Similar to the latex pillow, the memory foam pillow is supportive and soft. It provides you with neck pain relief due to its contoured shape and will keep your spine in alignment. It doesn't shift or clump and doesn't require much maintenance.
As a side sleeper, shop for a pillow that's the right height that will keep your spine aligned. It shouldn't be too thick as this may make your neck bend upwards and this could put your neck out of alignment. What you need is a firm pillow that will stay firm all night long and keep your neck from bending downward.
Pillows for Combination Sleepers
According to Consumer Reports, if you are a combination sleeper, a pillow that’s ideal for you will have both firmer and softer sections. You might also look for a pillow with a lower center for when you switch to your back and higher on the sides for when you roll over on your side. The best types of pillows for this are pillows made of multiple materials and Buckwheat hulls.
Types of Pillows to Avoid
- Back Sleepers: Avoid using a stiff pillow or one that’s too high. These pillows tend to keep your neck flexed throughout the night and may leave you with stiffness and pain in morning. If you’re suffering from neck pain, avoid polyester pillows since they don’t provide much neck support. The best pillow for neck pain combines a lower, deep area for your head and a roll-shaped area for your neck.
- Stomach Sleepers: Avoid a contour pillow which is a type of pillow designed for side and back sleepers. The pillow’s middle curves downward to provide adequate support for your head. It’s not designed for a stomach sleeper. Water pillows aren't good for stomach pillows either since stomach sleepers really only need a very thin pillow.
- Combination Sleepers: Avoid feather quill pillows which aren’t very comfortable when you’re rotating in your sleep.
- Side Sleepers: Avoid feather, leather, polyester, down and gel pillows. These are basically all soft pillows and as you know, side sleepers need extra firm pillows.
As you can see, pillows aren’t one-type-fits-all sleepers. The best pillow for a side sleeper is not the same as a pillow ideal for a back sleeper or belly sleeper. The key is to choose one that enables you to wake up refreshed, rejuvenated and full of energy for the day ahead.