When’s the last time you changed your pillow? According to the National Sleep Foundation, you’re supposed to swap it out every two years. By diligently sticking with the same old crusty pillow, you’re exposing yourself to years of accumulated, hard-to-remove bacteria, which can impart foul, hard-to-remove odors. (Oh, and your pillow has likely gone flat by now.) So if your time’s not up, it’s coming up soon.
The good news? This presents an opportunity to optimize your sleep. A simple swap can have you sailing off to dreamland like you haven’t in years. Whether you’re a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper—whether you get itchy in the middle of the night or find yourself waking up with a sore neck—herein, we’ve narrowed down the best pillows you can buy. And if you’re trying to sleep at 35,000 feet, learn the 10 Best Tricks For Sleeping on a Plane.
For: Side Sleepers
Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow, by Snuggle-Pedic
$60; buy now at amazon.com
If you sleep on your side—which, according to the Better Sleep Council, is the most common position among Americans—you have to do double duty. Literally. Since your head is further from the mattress than it would be if you slept on your back or stomach, you’ll require extra support to maintain a straight neck, essential for preventing chronic pain and injury. An easy solution? Prop your head up with two pillows.
Or, even easier, you could invest in a whopper of a pillow. Snuggle-Pedic’s memory foam—a blend of bamboo and polyester—pillow is as thick as two regular ones, and never goes flat, ever. Indeed, the company backs this claim up with some serious muscle: The product comes with a two-decade warranty. What’s more, the thickness is adjustable, so you can accommodate whomever happens to be in your bed, side sleeper or no. And for more ways to sail off to dreamland, learn these Amazing Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.
For: Back Sleepers
Primaloft Pillow Medium, by The Company Store
$64; buy now at thecompanystore.com
When it comes to choosing a pillow for back sleeping, think like Goldilocks. You want something thick enough to keep your head off the mattress, but not so thick your neck is bent unnaturally. The Company Store’s medium Primaloft—which is specifically designed for back sleepers—hits that fairy tale-level sweet spot. And for more ways to get the most of your sleep, try any of the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets For Falling Asleep Faster.
For: Stomach Sleepers
Dreamstead, by Cuddledown
$89; buy now at amazon.com
Stomach sleepers, unlike back or side sleepers, require a flexible (or “scrunchy,” in industry parlance) pillow. If the pillow is too firm or thick, your neck will bend backwards, which, as any doctor within 24,901 miles will tell you, can lead to some serious chronic pain. To prevent that, pick up a heavenly soft pillow, like Cuddledown’s Dreamstead. At first glance, the pillow seems too thick to help. (Indeed, 5 inches is quite thick for a pillow.) But the goose down innards give way like air, and you’ll instantly sink down to comfortable levels.
For: Itchy Sleepers
The Pillow, by Casper
$55; buy now at casper.com
When it comes to pillow comfort, few things are more comfortable than down or feathers. Also, few things are itchier. (If the stuff doesn’t trigger your allergies, scratchy quills can poke out.) The solution? Pick up an entirely synthetic pillow, like the offerings from Casper, which is constructed from fibers thinner than a human hair. And for more incredible facts about sleep, don’t miss the 30 Weirdest Things You Do In Your Sleep.
For: Overheated Sleepers
Cool Gel Memory Foam, by Classic Brands
$29; buy now at kmart.com
In futile efforts to cool down, we’ve all busted out the old pillow-flipping trick from time to time. But if you find night sweats to be a frequent condition, you may want to consider investing in a pillow equipped with a cooling agent. These gels help distribute body heat around the pillow so it doesn’t end up concentrated in one critical spot: Under your head. And if you’re having a terrible timing sleeping these days, know that This Genius Productivity Hack Will Improve Your Sleep.
For: People with Back Problems
Comfort Supreme Wedge Pillow, by Therapedic
$40; buy now at bedbathandbeyond.com
If you’re suffering back pain, especially in the lower part of your spine, doctors will recommend you use a wedge pillow. These pillows—which happened to be shaped like blocks of cheese, hence the nomenclature—contour smoothly to the natural arch of your spine, allowing your body to bend back in shape naturally over time.
To start, pick up a 7-inch wedge; that way, you can flip it upside down (like pictured) and use it for support while sitting. And if you continue to experience discomfort on a regular basis, learn how to conquer lower back pain once and for all.
For: People with Neck Problems
Tempur-Neck, by Tempur-Pedic
$89; buy now at amazon.com
We all know Tempur-Pedic for their unshakeable commitment to eradicating red wine spills. But the company has also worked wonders on chronic neck pain. Their aptly-named Tempur-Neck offers a plush cradle that alleviates any pressure on your neck.
For: People Who Drool
Lugano Talalay, by Legend Sleep
$129; buy now at legendsleep.com
Those mysterious yellow stains all over your pillow are caused by frequent drooling, which means you’re exposing your pillow to nightly dampness. In that case, you should invest in a mildew-proof latex pillow, like the Lugano Talalay from Legend Sleep.
Celliant Sleep Therapeutic Wellness, by Visco Love
$60; buy now at amazon.com
Anyone who snores—or, rather, anyone whose partner snores—would love nothing more than to put a stop to the condition. A good place to start is investing in an anti-snore pillow; these meticulously designed products are crafted with hypoallergenic fabrics, to ease air passage in the esophagus. And some, like the Celliant Sleep, from Visco Love, even come shaped in a manner to hold your neck still throughout the night, to prevent the snorer from rolling into a snore-conducive position in the middle of the night. And for more on this common, chronic condition, learn why you’re snoring (and everything you need to know to stop).
For: Pregnant Women
U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow, by Queen Rose
$54; buy now at amazon.com
When you’re pregnant, it’s best to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. Recommend by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the position alleviates pressure on the knees, hips, and legs, and can help keep your spine straight throughout the entire term. To get the most bang for your buck, try a u-shaped pillow. These designs loop under your head, down your back, and through your knees, offering cushy comfort for your whole body. And for more about pregnancy, learn The Truth About Drinking While Pregnant.
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