A little nighttime reading


When it comes to your bed, the mattress typically gets the credit for transforming your sleep. And understandably so. Sleep on a terrible mattress, and you’re left tossing and turning, or worse -- with back pain for days.

A bevy of young brands are making waves in the sleep world by offering convenient and affordable “bed-in-a-box” mattresses. What was once the realm of gimmicks and sleaze, these companies offer candor and a cool factor.

But let’s not forget about the pillow. 91% of Americans believe a comfortable pillow is essential to quality sleep -- just as many as those who say that about a mattress. Yet, it’s common to see consumers who’ve spent hundreds on a new mattress outfit their bed with the 2-for-$20 pillow deal.

Many of us have slept in a hotel bed on a pillow that feels amazing. Maybe it has the perfect plump. Or supports our neck just right. Yet too often, we go back to our bed’s same old pillows that went flat months ago.

Hint: Not all pillows are the same
If you think all pillows are the same, I invite you to discover how a comfy pillow can upgrade your sleep quality tonight. For less than the cost of a nice dinner out or new running shoes, you could be sleeping on a pillow that makes bedtime more restful night after night.

But finding that comfy pillow can be daunting in the sea of pillows you find in bins at department stores. The signage is sparse. You’re squishing pillows through plastic. Or awkwardly resting your head on the pillow while standing up.

While pillows are seemingly simple things, the material used, the way it’s constructed and how it’s sourced can make a huge difference in support. To increase your chances of finding your comfiest pillow before you buy, consider a few things:

1) Sleep experts’ advice about “the best pillow” is only a start
Medical studies on pillow comfort have been relatively limited. Often the research (like this example) includes a narrow range of pillow designs studied with a limited number of sleepers. Yet, in reality, there are hundreds of pillow options available and a broad variation in sleepers’ bodies and sleep styles.

If you ask sleep specialists how to choose a pillow, you’ll be advised to find one that puts your head into neutral alignment with your spine based on sleep position -- meaning a pillow that won’t push your head too far forward or back if you’re back, stomach or side sleeping.

But most sleep docs acknowledge that subjective factors often determine whether or not you like a pillow. Like how fluffy or firm it is. If it’s hypoallergenic. Or breathable and cool. Scrunchable. All-natural. How it smells. Even how it sounds. And the list goes on.

There is no one perfect pillow for everyone. Pillows are personal. 

Slumbr - comfy pillowsPillow Buying Tip: Consider other factors beyond how a pillow fits your sleep position. With a little digging, you might be surprised to see how much variety is out there and how these qualities can make a difference. If you're looking for the best pillow for your greatest sleep, Slumbr's Pillow Guide gives more detail about what kind of factors to consider.

2) You can invest in pillows to keep for years -- without the “gross” factor
If your pillows are stained and yellowed, it’s definitely time to get new pillows. Some sleep experts advise changing your pillow after 12-18 months, and some even suggest every 6 months. This can be costly and wasteful. Is buying a new pillow this often really necessary?

The reasons why that advice is given is because your pillow can accumulate dirt, oils, dust mites and other icky things over time. These things are often harmless to our health, although dust mites in particular may exacerbate allergies for some people. They also break down the fill in your pillow, causing it to lose support.

However, by using a pillow protector, you can provide a washable barrier to the things that degrade your pillows. Also, quality pillows usually have fill and/or covers that can be cleaned. They also hold up better in the wash without losing their integrity or getting lumpy. With proper care, you can keep these types of high quality pillows for years, making them far more economical.

Slumbr - comfy pillowsPillow Buying Tip: Select durable pillow fills or covers that can be cleaned, and use a pillow protector. Consider a durable pillow with a fill that can be cleaned or that naturally resists the accumulation; down, latex and buckwheat are good options.

Pillow shopping leaves much to be desired

3) The best selection of pillows is likely not found in your typical store
If you’re like most people buying pillows from a retail chain, chances are you’re not choosing from an ideal selection. Given these stores sell a range of products, most pillows on shelves have been mass-produced with little expertise put into the quality of the pillow.

Conversely, you can brave the mattress store where they primarily push pillows with memory foam to add on to your mattress purchase. Mattress store sales people like these pillows because they’re highly profitable and are easily marketed with gimmicks. But these pillows are also quite polarizing when it comes to customer satisfaction, with some finding them too hot or uncomfortable.

Slumbr - comfy pillowsPillow Buying Tip: Shop at a retailer that specializes in pillows. Rather than purchasing a pillow at a department or mattress store, consider a retailer in your local area or online that specializes in pillows. You’ll likely find healthier, more comfortable options AND get more for your money.

We here at Slumbr just happen to specialize in pillows (don't you like that segway?)  ;-) We evaluated 250+ options and tested the best with real sleepers to develop our Pillow Menu. Find your comfiest pillow with our Pillow Quiz.

4) Pillows made from the “same” material can feel vastly different from each other
Just as you find in bed sheets, products from different stores made with seemingly the same material often feel dissimilar. The difference is in how the material was cultivated, produced or constructed.

For example, many pillows are made with down and feather. But not all down is the same. Its loft, plushness and durability is a factor of multiple things, such as the climate where the bird it came from was raised, what the bird ate, how large it was, how it was treated and cleaned. The same distinctions in quality can be found for other pillow fills, from buckwheat to polyester-fill to memory foam to latex and so on.

Slumbr - comfy pillowsPillow Buying Tip: Invest in a pillow with a high-quality fill. Get enhanced comfort and more for your money by investing in a pillow with higher-quality versions of its fill. A reputable retailer will always provide detailed information on how the pillow was made or sourced.

The next time you climb into bed, consider if it’s time to upgrade your pillow. For about 1/10 the cost of a mattress, it just might be the best investment you’ll make in getting better sleep for healthier, happier nights (and days).

Ready to find your comfiest pillow?