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Helpful Pillow Buying Guide For Better Sleep

My Pillow Buying Guide will help you pick the perfect pillow. Who would have thought that buying a pillow could be so complicated? Because there are so many choices available, it can be bewildering, to say the least. I myself am very particular about the type of pillow I like to rest my weary head upon, so I understand the pursuit of the perfect pillow. When I stay at a hotel, which hasn’t been recently due to COVID, I find it difficult to fall asleep on their bouncy pillows. I prefer a flat pillow; otherwise, my neck starts to hurt, and I feel uncomfortable and irritable. If you are about to buy a new pillow, this Pillow Buying Guide may help. It covers pillow fillings, firmness, sleeping positions and speciality pillows.

Pillow Buying Guide: Natural Pillow Fillings

There are many different types of pillow fillings available. The fillings generally include Natural (silk, cotton, wool, down or duck feathers), Synthetic (polyester), Latex and Memory Foam. Others are made from organic materials, bamboo and even buckwheat. Let’s take a look at the main pillow materials and fillings first.

pillow buying guide, kensingtons luxury mulberry silk pillows white two pillows

Two Cotton Cover Luxury Mulberry Silk Filled Pillows (search product code: B075YYFKNM), £59.99 from Kensingtons at Amazon UK

Silk: If you want to buy the ultimate luxury pillow, it has to be super soft silk. Silk is hypoallergenic, so it will not cause skin irritation. Because the surface is smooth, it won’t give your face morning creases. If you have frizzy hair, the pillow won’t zap the moisture, which may help stop your hair from drying out. The material is good for sweaty sleepers thanks to temperature control. Silk pillows are expensive but worth it if you want a great night’s sleep. If you can’t afford a silk pillow, you can purchase a silk pillowcase instead. MayfairSilk has a beautiful collection of pure silk pillowcases.

pillow buying guide, natural cotton quilted kingsize pillow protector john lewis

Natural Cotton Quilted Kingsize Pillow Protector (search product code: 60750108), £15 from John Lewis & Partners

Cotton: Cotton pillows tick many positive boxes because the material is natural, hypoallergenic, breathable and soft. Organic cotton is the better option for anyone with a sensitivity to chemicals. One downside is that the cotton filling may form clumps, and sometimes they don’t retain their shape when washed. Cotton pillow protectors are popular and can provide a comfort layer and protection for your existing pillow.

organic wool pillow from rise and fall two pillows on top of each other

Organic Wool Pillow, £50-75 from Rise&Fal

Wool: People don’t often consider a wool-filled pillow. However, they should because it is a natural fibre, environmentally friendly, anti-allergenic and provides support. The material can help you feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Washing a wool pillow and drying it may ruin the shape. One option is to remove the filling and wash the cover or place it inside a protective cover and wash that instead.

hungarian goose down pillow from soak and sleep distressed wall background

Hungarian Goose Down Pillows, £75-190 from Soak & Sleep

Down: The down comes from geese, ducks and swans. Down are the delicate feathers from the chest and underbelly of the bird with no quill. Hungarian goose feathers are particularly luxurious. Down pillows are lofty with a soft and bouncy feel, although some brands offer firmness options. The down pillow will probably flatten, but you can fluff it back into shape. It is an expensive option but likely to last longer than a feather-filled pillow. Down pillows may retain the heat, so if you are particularly sweaty during the night, it might not be great for you.

comfortzone duck feather firm support walled pillow dunelm

Comfortzone Duck Feather Firm Support Walled Pillow, £18 from Dunelm

Feathers: The feathers are often plucked from the backs or wings of ducks, geese, etc. They have quills which can be sharp and annoying, especially if it pokes through the pillow and scratches your face. Feather pillows can feel heavy to lift, but some people like the weight. Head compression of the pillow may mean that you need to replace it more often than other materials. Feather pillows tend to be cooler than down.

siberian goose feather and down standard pillow john lewis

Natural Collection Siberian Goose Feather and Down Standard Pillow Medium Firmness (search product code: 60811231), £30 from John Lewis & Partners

Down and Feather Combination: Some pillows are filled with a combination of feathers and down. It is cheaper than a pure down pillow and a bit more luxurious than a feather pillow. The quills will still poke through, but you could cover them with a protector. Some people have allergies to down and feathers, so they would prefer to avoid these fillings.

two supersoft washable medium pillows from argos

Two Supersoft Washable Medium Pillows (search product code: 835/3137), £10 from Argos

Pillow Buying Guide: Synthetic, Latex and Memory Foam Pillow Fillings

Microfibre and Hollowfibre: As the name suggests, microfibre is fine 100% polyester fibres that have been woven very tightly with little space in between. The filling provides a soft and bouncy feeling similar to down (and feathers) without the expense and is better for people who suffer from allergies. Microfibre pillows can be machine washed and usually keep their shape when dried. Hollowfibre is similar to microfibre but has more space between the fibres, which are lighter and cooler, so it is better for hot sleepers. Some polyester pillows are mixed with cotton.

woman with head resting on una organic latex pillow

100% Organic Latex Pillow with Adjustable Height and Wool Cotton Mix Cover, £75 for the standard size from Una Mattress

Latex: If you require good neck support, a latex pillow is an option because it relieves pressure and pain. The fabric is hypoallergenic, breathable, cooling and resistant to dust mites. Better still, opt for an organic friendly organic latex, and you’ll be pleased. I tried the 100% Organic Latex Pillow from Una Mattress, which you can read about in my Una Eco Mattress Can Help Stress Sleepers article.

woman sleeping with head on tempur original pillow

Tempur Original Pillow, £95 sale price from Tempur

Memory Foam: People tend to either love or hate memory foam as a pillow material. The foam moulds to your head shape, which should provide better support for your neck and spine to alleviate neck or back pain. Some memory foam may contain toxic materials, so check out the filling’s safety before you purchase.

Other pillow material options include bamboo, buckwheat hull, microbeads and more. Recycled materials are also being used to help the environment. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, lookout for eco-friendly, organic, nonallergenic and hypoallergenic pillows. Before you purchase an expensive pillow, check if there is a money-back guarantee.

Best Pillows for Sleeping Positions

If you sleep on your front, back or side, you can buy a pillow specially created for your favourite sleeping position. Wayfair recommends firm and wide pillows for side sleepers. Soft and thin pillows for stomach sleepers. Thicker pillows for back sleepers. However, some people prefer to purchase pillows with comfort in mind – soft, medium or firm. Online shops like Homescapes, with a large collection of pillows, have filters so you can search for fillings, position, comfort and size.

Pillow Shapes and Sizes

Traditional pillow shapes are rectangles (regular shapes) and squares. Sizes range from standard (suitable for single or double beds), king size and super king. Other variations include queen and European. Be mindful that standard sizes will be too small if you buy pillows for a super king bed. V shape pillows are great for sitting up in bed if you want to read a book. Try a body pillow if you are recovering from a sports injury or want something to hug.

Speciality Pillows

Hybrid specialist pillows, such as Simba, are focusing on temperature regulation using clever Nanocube Technology. The Fine Bedding Company has the Smart Temperature Pillow, another great option for hot people!

simba hybrid pillow

Hybrid Pillow for Temperature Control, £99 from

Some pillows are said to help reduce snoring, like the Kally Sleep Anti-Snore Pillow, which you can buy from John Lewis & Partners. If you want to treat yourself, visit the Nanu Sleep website, where you can design your own pillow by choosing the firmness, sleeping position, height and weight.

soundasleep bluetooth speaker pillow with box and blue mountain background

Soundasleep Speaker Pillow, £50 (was on sale for £20) from Soundasleep

The Soundasleep Speaker Pillow is a smart pillow that has multiple functions. The undetectable speaker allows you to listen to music and audiobooks without disturbing your partner. It has a sleep tracker so that you can check your sleep patterns. The snore management has a sound nudge should you reach a certain decibel. If you are stressed, you can listen to the mindfulness tracks. Don’t forget to set the alarm, which will play music to wake you up.

I hope this guide to buying pillows will help you narrow down your choice. If you get it right, you can enjoy blissful sleep. You may have a back or neck ache if you get it wrong. It is worth spending time exploring your options before you plump for the perfect pillow. Good night my lovelies.

You may be interested in reading about more Product Ideas and looking at pictures on my Pinterest Boards.

Pillow Buying Guide Post Credits

Author: Homegirl London. Photographs are from the following online shops/websites: Amazon UK (Kensingtons), MayfairSilk, John Lewis & Partners, Rise&Fall, Soak & Sleep, Argos, Dunelm, Una Mattress, Tempur, and Soundasleep. If you are unhappy with me using one of your pictures, please contact me.