So, you’re looking for a new, comfortable pillow for your bedroom. You walk into a store and you’re immediately approached by a smiley middle-aged pillow salesman that offers you the latest and “best” in pillow deals. You ask yourself then: Aren’t bedroom pillows just a generic commodity? Are they really no different from one another despite what manufacturers and marketers claim on their label? Are more expensive pillows no different than those expensive bottled water brands you see in your local supermarket, with claims of being ‘the finest artesian water’ dug from 200 feet under the ground and yet tastes suspiciously similar to the water that comes out from your tap; just another status symbol in a capitalistic, material world?
Well I’m here to tell you that this is not true. Unlike bottled water, there are many differences between the various types of pillows not only from a quality perspective, but also from a feature perspective. Since the average human being spends up to a third of his or her life asleep, and most likely with their head and neck resting on a pillow, selecting the right pillow for an individual’s own unique sleeping position, physical condition, and just plain personal preferences is a significant factor in getting a good and restful sleep. This similarly applies for mattresses. While it is normal in today’s fast paced world for high performers to almost boast about their lack of sleep, it has been well documented by various researchers and scientists that not only can improper sleep have a detrimental effect on mental performance; it has been linked to being predisposed to weight gain and even depression as well.
In today’s article, we will be taking a look at the 5 different factors that we can use to grade pillows against each other as well as a brief explanation of each individual factor. Let’s get right to it.
- Size – In this case, size does in fact matter. Did you know that pillows commonly come in 6 different sizes? Yes, here they are, from smallest to largest sizes:
- Standard Pillow Size – Commonly measures 20 inches by 26 inches.
- Super Standard Pillow Size – Commonly measures 20 inches by 28 inches.
- Queen Pillow Size – Commonly measures 20 inches by 30 inches.
- King Pillow Size – Commonly measures 20 inches by 36 inches.
- Euro Pillow Size – This is one of those ‘square pillows’ you see on some beds; not really meant for sleeping, but adds comfort for other activities such as reading in bed. Common sizes are 26 inches by 26 inches, 24 inches by 24 inches, 22 inches by 22 inches, 20 inches by 20 inches, 18 inches by 18 inches, and 16 inches by 16 inches.
- Standard Pillow Size – Commonly measures 54 inches by 20 inches or 28 inches by 20 inches.
- Loft – A pillow’s loft refers to the height of a pillow when laid flat. This could be considered a measure of a pillow’s ‘fluffiness’. Generally, high loft pillows are fluffier and softer while low loft pillows are firmer. High loft pillows make good side sleeper pillows while lower loft pillows are more ideal for back and stomach sleepers. While we don’t generally recommend getting ordinary feather pillows if you’re a side sleeper, some do have a sufficient loft that you can get away with it. This matters a lot because using the wrong pillows can cause you to wake up with neck pain or back ache problems. Side sleepers should really only use a specific type of pillow and the same goes for back sleepers and so on.
- Shape – Errrr, pillows are only come in rectangles, right? Wrong! Pillows come in all shapes as well as sizes, in the ‘size’ bullet above, we already mentioned European square pillows as well as body pillows. Contour pillows are also very popular, particularly for people with neck and spine issues.
- Material/Filling – In the modern era, customers have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to the filling of their pillow. The most basic and popular is polyester, and is often the most economical as well. Options for ‘natural’ fillings include pure cotton, wool, feathers, down (taken from the underside of the waterfowl, it has a quilt tip but no quilt shaft, making them softer than feathers), and even buckwheat! Synthetic options include the popular memory foam and latex pillows. There are even synthetic options that replicate the feel of a natural down pillow. This is probably one of the most crucial factors in choosing your pillow as each different filling will determine a pillow’s loft, personal comfort level, as well as level of neck and spine support (the required level of such support will vary between individuals).
- Price – No escaping this one. Polyester pillows are the cheapest option while moving up to the top of the range is a down pillow, generally the most expensive of them all.
These are the main factors customers should look at when choosing their next pillow. The advice is necessarily general as there is really no objective marker about what makes the best pillow; as mentioned it is highly dependent on an individual’s body and personal preferences. That being said, understanding the various options out there and what they mean will make you a better informed shopper and increase your chances of getting that perfect pillow for you.