Whether you’re a side sleeper, a stomach sleeper, or someone who sleeps most of the night on your back, we all need our beauty sleep. Not only does the body use those hours each night to rest and rejuvenate, but it also uses the time to heal and recover from any stress or illness that may be affecting us. There are several important keys to getting a restful night of sleep, but finding a healthy back pillow, or side sleeper pillow, or stomach-friendly pillow are among the most crucial. Keep reading to find out how to find the best pillow for your sleep style!
What Type of Sleeper are You?
First, let’s examine what type of sleep style you have most of the time.
Side Sleeper: If you find yourself sleeping with your hip and shoulder right on the mattress, you are a side sleeper. You’ll want a medium to firm pillow that lifts and supports your neck so your spine is parallel to the bed and not bent or curved awkwardly.
Stomach Sleeper: Memory foam pillows or thin pillows no taller than 3 inches thick work best for stomach sleepers who like to assume the “starfish” position at night or sleep just like a baby.
Back Sleeper: A firm, contoured and high loft pillow is the best healthy back pillow, because the spine needs to be supported to alleviate neck and shoulder stiffness.
Combination Sleeper: If you find yourself a mixture of all or some of the above types of sleeping positions, then a memory foam or a medium firm pillow may be right for you. Try different options at different price points to see what suits you best.
Types of Pillows
Depending on what type of sleep style you have, there are at least 10 or more different types of pillows that could meet your needs. Here are the most common pillows.
Feather pillows: If you’re not allergic to animal feathers, these naturally strong, soft pillows offer a gentle sleep that feels like sleeping on a cloud. However, they don’t offer much head or neck support, so if you have spinal issues, it may be best to avoid feather pillows.
Down pillows: Similar to standard feather pillows, natural down pillows (which are made of the fluffy feathery undercoat from birds) are the softest and gentlest pillows on the market and are considered a luxury. They’re light, soft and fluffy but also don’t offer much support.
Memory foam pillows: These dense and heavy pillows mold to the shape of your head and neck and stay in place, self-adjusting as you shift your weight in bed during the night. They are helpful for supporting your weight but are not very soft or cuddly.
Microbead pillows: When you fly on a plane or travel in a car, you may already be using a microbead pillow made from tiny beads called unexpanded polystyrene (EPS), which provide hard support – especially for the neck.
Buckwheat pillows: Filled with husks from buckwheat seeds, these less common pillows offer hard support. They are organic and hypoallergenic, fitting to the contours of your head and neck.
Sleep apnea pillows: If you have trouble breathing or snoring at night, you may already be sleeping with a CPAP machine. Sleep apnea pillows, made with polyester fiber fill or foam, are designed to fit around your CPAP machine without disturbing any wires or cords.
Neck pillows: These pillows are made with man-made fillings such as polyester fibers or rayon and feature a baffle to support your spine, head and neck properly.
Body pillows: Also made with synthetic materials, long, oversized body pillows are placed between the legs to help support the hips and lower back. Body pillows are especially comforting to pregnant women.
Lumbar pillows: If you have lower back pain, a lumbar pillow will allow the area above the lumbar region to relax, so you can sleep easier.
Wedge pillows: Made of foam, polyester fiber fill or a combination of both, wedge pillows are made to prop different parts of the body to help relieve pain or discomfort, such as with pregnancy or varicose veins. You can also use them to read in bed.
Other Sleep Support Tips
Other than finding the right pillow (and mattress), here are several other proven tips to sleep better at night.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by limiting screen time before bed time, as the blue light can actually keep you awake.
- Stick to a regular schedule each day, including a workout routine. Regular exercise has been shown to improve overall sleep quality.
- Avoid caffeine, sweets, fried foods, and spicy foods before bed time.
- Don’t drink liquids at least an hour or so before bedtime to reduce trips to the bathroom.
- Avoid distractions by keeping pets and kids out of the room, and turn your phone ringer on silent with the “emergencies only” option left on.
- Try sleep supplements made with natural ingredients to help balance your sleep cycle, such as melatonin.
- Sleep in a completely dark, black room. (Use blackout curtains if possible.)
Whatever your sleep style may be, getting a good night’s rest is essential to maintaining your overall health and wellness. When it comes to finding a healthy back pillow or any other type of pillow, it will take some trial and error. Don’t give up until you find the best pillow for you.