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The Definitive Breakdown of Bed Pillows

Posted by Colin Ward on

Having the right pillow can make a difference in the quality of your sleep. There are so many different pillows on the market, it’s difficult to know which one to choose. Despite the claims many companies make, there is no “best” pillow, but determining which is the best for you personally is a good place to start. 

Choosing the Right Fill is the First Step

Memory Foam

Pillows made from memory foam have become very popular as they conform to your head and neck, and are good for those people suffering from neck/shoulder pain and stiffness. On the downside, these pillows can be hot and are heavy.




Considered to be quite luxurious, down is soft and very comfortable. They are light, but tend to clump up. A disadvantage to this type of fill is that many people are allergic to feathers and down.


Shredded Memory Foam


This pillow molds and conforms to your body, so it can be customized easily for comfort. It’s cooler than solid memory foam pillows, and can be molded into giving the firmness and support you want.


Polyester or Cotton


As the most affordable choice, polyester pillows are hypoallergenic and can be purchased from firm to soft. Some people are allergic to the polyester filling, so cotton may be a better choice. Both polyester and cotton tend to become lumpy over time.




Gel fibres and gel layers draw the heat from the skin’s surface and create a cooling sensation. They may not provide enough support, as they are quite soft and tend to lose their shape over time.




These pillows work like a waterbed to cushion and support you. You can choose your comfort level based on the amount of water you add to the pillow—but on the downside, they can be extremely heavy and difficult to move.

How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Choice of Pillow

Side Sleepers


As long as your neck is supported by a medium to firm pillow, any fill is suitable as long as the height or “loft” is right. 


Stomach Sleepers


This position is hard on your spine as your neck is turned to the side. A pillow that is soft and not too high is the best choice. Down pillows are probably the best choice. 


Back Sleepers


Getting a pillow that aligns your head with your spine is a must for back sleepers. A pillow with medium firm density (like shredded memory foam or polyester) is likely the best choice.




What is the Best Choice if You Suffer From Sleep Apnea 


Generally the best pillows for people suffering from sleep apnea are made from foam or memory foam. The shape of the pillow is important because they have to be used withCPAP machines. As CPAP machines have a mask, the pillow has to be be able to reduce the pressure the mask creates on the face, and be able to keep the mask in place.


Other sleep pillows used by those with sleep apnea are cervical and wedge pillows. Cervical or contour pillows keep the neck straight, preventing the throat from closing. Wedge pillows elevate the upper body which stops the airway from collapsing during sleep.


If you are wondering about sleep apnea, you can start with taking our quiz or get a referral form for further testing.


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