Bed Pillow Buying Guide: Memory Foam? Latex? Feather? Down?

By: Ross Goldberg


Most pillows come in 2 sizes: Standard and King. King size pillows can be too long and unyielding, so you may want to consider using 3 standard pillows instead of 2 King Size for a King Size mattress. Some companies offer a Queen Size pillow which is often a happy medium between the other 2 sizes.

Sleep position:

The position you normally sleep in is a major factor when deciding what pillow you want to purchase for yourself. Back sleepers normally need thinner pillows, while a side sleeper could use some extra support to keep their neck properly aligned. Contour type pillows work well for either situation. Stomach sleepers need to be careful not to get a pillow that is too thick, so they don't suffocate on the pillow.

Filling:

If you prefer a very thin Pillow, Down or synthetic Down would work fairly well for you. If you prefer a supportive pillow, memory foam or latex would suit you well. Memory foam will react to your heat and the weight of your head and slowly conform around your head and neck to provide great support. Latex pillows are more bouncy than memory foam and bounce back faster. If you move around a lot, a latex pillow would be better for you than memory foam. Memory foam normally takes 30 to 60 seconds to go back to its natural shape and moving during that period could force you to wake up.

Firmness:

Pillows offer different levels of firmness. With a Down pillow you can get one that is very thick or very thin. Which you would choose is based on your preference and how you sleep. Memory Foam Pillows come in different shapes, firmnesses, and densities. For a pillow, 3 lb. density seems to work best. It is soft, yet supportive. Remember that we are talking about pillows and not a mattress. What is good enough to support your head is not necessarily best for your entire body. A contour pillow can be arranged to suit you no matter how you sleep. A comfort or standard shaped memory foam pillow is normally a memory foam shell with small clusters of memory foam inside. This is our favorite pillow due to its level of softness and conformity. A latex pillow is very supportive and conforms without a memory. That means that it will bounce back to its original shape immediately and works well for someone that moves around a lot.

Covers:

The cover you would use for your pillow depends on the pillow itself. Memory foam pillows normally come with a removable, washable cover. A pillow case is not necessary when these covers are included and honestly the memory foam will react to a person faster if one is not used. Latex and standard type pillows should be covered by a pillow case to keep it from becoming stained. Make sure you keep the manufacturer's cleaning instructions in case your pillow gets dirty.

The Bottom Line:

With any type of bedding purchase, the bottom line is preference. You would be best off testing every pillow you can think of and deciding for yourself what you like. This guide should help to steer you in the right direction.

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Ross Goldberg is a disabled veteran of the Desert Storm Era. What you are reading is the result of years of research and comes from a true expert in the bedding industry. Memory Foam Furniture | Luxury Bed, Mattress and Furniture Products.

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