Pillow Buying Guide – Which Pillow to Buy?

What should you pay attention to when buying a pillow?

Have you ever heard how important it is to find the right mattress for a good night’s sleep? Well, buying the right pillow is just as important!

Cushions come in all shapes, sizes and with dozens of different fillings. How do you know which pillow suits you best?

There are at least two main questions to ask yourself. After reading this buying guide, you will hopefully be a step further when buying your perfect pillow.

Find the right pillow by following these 3 steps.

First, determine the correct firmness

The most important starting point in determining firmness is the sleeping position. Your lying position determines which type of pillow is suitable for you. So first check under which category you fall and what you should pay attention to when buying a pillow. In addition, your posture and the firmness of your mattress also play a role. We will come back to this later.

Why do we actually use pillows?

A pillow provides good support for your head and neck, and keeps your spine in line. The position in which you sleep, the matching pillow and the amount of filling have a direct effect on your health. The wrong kind of pillow can seriously damage your sleep.

What is your favorite sleeping position?

“How do you fall asleep most often?”

So, the first step in choosing the right pillow is to determine which position you sleep most often. How you sleep indicates what level of support your body needs in a pillow. A distinction is made between three sleeping positions: on the back, on the side or on the stomach.

Which Pillow To Buy For Back Sleepers

About 20% of sleepers are back sleepers – this is considered the healthiest way of sleeping. For back sleepers, a pillow should keep the head level with the shoulders. This way you keep a natural curvature of the spine. In addition, gravity pulls your head to your left or right shoulder while you sleep. The ideal back sleeping pillow keeps your head relatively straight, or upright, facing the ceiling. This reduces the lateral twist in your neck. Thin pillows with medium soft hardness and neck support are the best pillows for back sleepers.

A pillow that is too thin or soft can cause the head to fall too far back, while a pillow that is too thick can raise the head forward. This bad posture can cause problems in your shoulders and lower back.

Hardness: medium
Height: thin at the head
Shape: kneadable, rectangular, with neck support

Do you prefer to sleep on your back? Then view the best mattresses for back sleepers

Which Pillow To Buy For Side Sleepers​

Sleeping on your side is the most common sleeping position. Side sleepers prefer a thick and firm pillow, it is important that the pillow is thick enough to keep your back straight, but not so thick that it aligns your neck. In addition, it should conform to the contours of your head and neck and be firm enough to provide constant support throughout the night.

Hardness: medium-firm to firm
Height: thick enough to keep your back straight
Shape: preference for adjustable pillow

Do you prefer to sleep on your side? Then view the best mattresses for side sleepers

Which Pillow To Buy For Stomach Sleepers​

Sleeping on your stomach forces your head and spine into an unnatural upward bend, making it difficult to maintain a neutral alignment of your spine. Therefore, experts advise against this sleeping position. Belly sleepers should try sleeping on their side. If you have a bad sleeping position, it is possible to make a change. Are you unable to change your belly-sleeping position? Technically you do not need a pillow.

However, many people need the comfort of a pillow. Would you rather sleep with a pillow? Then prefer a very thin and soft pillow to prevent your head from twisting too much on both sides.

Hardness: soft
Height: thin
Shape: flat, rectangular
Do you prefer to sleep on your stomach? Then check out the best mattresses for tummy sleepers

The above information applies to the average sleeper. As mentioned earlier, in addition to your sleeping position, your posture and the firmness of your mattress are also important.

In addition to your sleeping position, there are other factors that determine the best firmness for your pillow. Are you tall or have broad shoulders? Then there is a greater distance between your head and the mattress. This distance should be filled just enough by your pillow to keep your spine in a straight line.

So, the wider your shoulders and the higher the weight, the firmer your pillow should be to properly support your head and neck.

We also recommend that you also consider the firmness of your mattress. With a softer mattress, you sink into the mattress faster, which reduces the distance between your head and the mattress. So with a softer mattress you also need a softer pillow.

By looking at your sleeping position, posture, weight and firmness of your mattress, you can determine the ideal firmness for your pillow. Below you will find a handy overview to see which strength you need.

What suits you: a soft or a hard pillow?

Use the table below as a guide to see which strength you need.

Side Sleeper
Back Sleeper
Stomach Sleeper
< 80 kg
> 80 kg
< 80 kg
> 80 kg
< 80 kg
> 80 kg
Soft to Medium
Medium to Firm
Medium to Firm
Soft to Medium
Soft to Medium
Medium to Firm
Soft to Medium
Soft to Medium

Now you should know which firmness suits you. Ready for the second step?

Then, choose a suitable filling

Based on your personal situation, you already know which strength is suitable for you. You also have to look at your personal preference. A mattress just has to feel nice and comfortable. In addition, you must take into account any allergies.

What kind of material do you prefer?

“What do you like best?”

There are dozens of different filling materials for a pillow. Each species has a number of advantages and disadvantages. Much of what is used in a pillow determines the degree of softness or firmness level. In addition, different fillings can be used to relieve allergies or can be specific for cooling or long-lasting properties, for example. It depends on your personal preference and needs to choose the most suitable filling.

These are the 5 most common filling materials:

Down / feather filling

Feather and down pillows are very light, soft and malleable, so you experience high comfort. These materials regulate the temperature perfectly, but it is better to avoid them if you suffer from allergies. 100% down pillows are airy and light, and are very soft to medium soft. High-quality feather pillows feel unique and are a lot firmer than down pillows.

These pillows are best for those who love the ‘cloud’ feel and need a soft, malleable pillow.

Synthetic filling

Synthetic pillows are filled with different materials such as shredded flakes, microspheres and fibers. They come in all shapes, sizes and hardnesses. They are designed to bounce the feel of feather / down pillows without using feathers or down – and are therefore considerably cheaper. In addition, they are anti-allergic and have no odor. Disadvantages are that they can feel warm and last less than natural filling materials.

These pillows are best for people who are allergic or don’t want to use feathers or down but still want to experience the same ‘cloud’ feeling.

Memory foam filling

Memory foam pillows mold to the contours of your head and neck. You get the feeling that your head can sink nicely into the pillow – it therefore offers a good mix between comfort and support. Memory foam usually feels warmer than other materials. In addition, the price of memory foam is higher than with synthetic alternatives.

These pillows are suitable for most back and side sleepers who like comfort and medium support.

Material filling comparison

Filling Firmness Heat Regulation Care Allergy
Down & Feather Very soft Good + -
Synthetic Soft Good +++ +++
Memory Foam Medium/Soft Medium - +_

Now that you know what firmness you need and have chosen the filling, you can start comparing the online offer. Below you will find what to look out for and the pitfalls when buying a pillow.

Finally, compare pillow brands

In addition to the firmness and padding, there are a few more factors that you can look at such as the quality of the cover, the maintenance of the cushion and the conditions of the seller.

Take a good look at the cushion cover

The cover of the pillow can provide: extra comfort, cooling and durability. The materials and their quality can influence the breathability of the cushion. In addition, a good cover ensures that a pillow lasts longer.

Cotton is by far the most used material – it is natural, breathable and offers both affordability and quality. Polyester is durable and strong and can mimic the feel of cotton. Some pillows have zippers, making it easier to adjust the filling and clean the cover. A tightly woven cover protects the filling.

Check the sizes of the pillow

There are many different pillow sizes. The size 60 x 70 cm is the most popular in the Netherlands. In recent years, even more pillow sizes have come onto the market. So look carefully at what size pillowcase you need.

Inquire about washing instructions

Not all pillows are washable – that depends on the materials of the filling and the construction of the pillow. If it can’t be washed, look for a pillow where you can zip off and wash the cover. If you are allergic to dust mites, it is best to wash the cover in hot water at least once a month.

Check the sales conditions

Buying a pillow is really something personal – no pillow is suitable for everyone. They can also be quite expensive. Therefore, before you buy a pillow, check whether you can try it at home and what the return arrangements and any hidden costs are.

Not every seller offers returns or trial periods, although some do. Preferably choose a pillow with free trial period and free return. Or choose a cushion with an exchange guarantee if the seller has a wide range. In addition, look at the warranty duration and conditions.

Let's Get Started

The “perfect pillow” does not exist – it depends on the personal situation, needs and preferences. You can choose from hundreds of pillows with different fillings, cooling hardness, firmness and comfort.

Go through the three steps again to see what kind of pillow you need. Then compare the best pillows available to see which pillow is best to buy and also check whether there is a nice ongoing discount promotion.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know below!

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