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How do I choose the perfect pillow?

13 Aug, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

A pillow plays a crucial role when it comes to sleep quality. Besides our bed, mattress, your duvet and the temperature of the environment in which we sleep, choosing the right pillow is crucial.

A good pillow contributes to a good sleeping position, prevents neck and shoulder pain and is essential for a good night’s sleep. But how do you choose the right pillow? And how can you maintain it properly? In this article, we answer these questions.

How do you choose the right pillow?

There are a number of things you can consider when choosing the perfect pillow:

  1. Sleeping position: the perfect pillow depends heavily on your sleeping position so side sleeper, back sleeper or stomach sleeper. What type of sleeper you are depends on the position you prefer to fall asleep with.
  2. Body weight: your body weight also plays an important role in choosing the right pillow. In general, for example, people who are heavier need more support from a pillow than people who are lighter. This is because there is more impact on the deformation of the mattress.
  3. Physical complaints: do you suffer from back or neck pain? If so, this is important to factor into your decision. For example, a pillow that keeps your neck and spine in a straight line can help reduce pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Pay close attention to the height because a pillow that is too high increases pressure on your lower back and overstretches your neck. A pillow that is too low puts extra pressure on your shoulder joints.
  4. Material: finally, it is important to consider the material of the pillow. Do you suffer from many allergies? Then choose a completely washable one, for example.

Which pillow fits me?

Which thickness of pillow you choose depends mainly on your sleeping position. Or rather: Which position you prefer to fall asleep with. In fact, once asleep, you move up to 30 times a night. In general, we speak of three types of sleepers: back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers.

Back sleepers need a pillow of medium thickness. You can also opt for a form pillow, more on this later. You can choose a hard or soft pillow depending on your personal preference.

Side sleepers need a thick pillow to support the head when lying on your side. Choose a pillow that is not too soft, or you will still have too little support. Shape pillows are also available for side sleepers.

Belly sleepers benefit from a thin pillow. As long as the pillow is thin enough, you can choose hard or soft depending on your personal preference. A shape pillow is not a good choice for a stomach sleeper. Some stomach sleepers prefer to sleep entirely without a pillow.

Types of pillows

To find the perfect pillow for yourself, it is important to know that there are a number of different variations. So when choosing your perfect pillow, it is best to take into account your personal preferences, your (in)sleeping position and any back and neck problems.

Broadly speaking, pillows usually come in four different varieties:

Type of pillowWashableCostSuitable for
VegetableSometimesAverageAll types of sleepers
SyntheticYesLowAll types of sleepers
Shape cushionNoHighBack sleepers and side sleepers
Animal (down)YesHighAll types of sleepers

Pillows filled with plant materials

The filling of these pillows consists of natural materials of plant origin. Consider fibers extracted from eucalyptus (Lyocell) , coconut or kapok. Or bamboo or cotton.

Often fillings that perform strongly with respect to regulating temperature and moisture. Not all fibers are easily washable, so we recommend a pillow protector anyway.

Synthetic pillows

These pillows are filled with synthetic, often polyester, fibers. Therefore, they are a cheaper alternative to down or natural pillows. They are light and easy to maintain.

These pillows conform to the shape of your head, however, often the filling has much more resilience than down. Usually the pillow cover or ticking has a zipper to take out the filling. This makes it easy to correct at home and also allows stomach sleepers to make a thin pillow.

Molded pillows (gel pillows & memory foam pillows)

Molded pillows have a fixed shape and can be made in memory foam, HR foam, latex or with gel. Memory foam is a special type of foam that responds to pressure and heat. This ensures that it adapts to the shape of your head and neck. As a result, they offer excellent support.

This foam has slightly more insulating properties, making them feel warm faster. An advantage if you get cold easily. Or choose latex padding: latex is either natural or synthetic rubber and provides good support for your head and neck. They are durable and long-lasting.

Often these pillow types are offered in moon shape (crescent shape) or with a sloping neck support. If thermoregulation is important to you definitely look into gel pads. Be careful, though, because minimum money thickness is really required. Otherwise, the contact surface with your skin is saturated very quickly.

If you choose molded pillows, know that different thicknesses are available. Ideal for aligning your shoulder width with the firmness of your mattress. Thus, choose a pillow on which your head is in line with your spine.

Pillows with animal materials

Think of fillings in wool, down and feathers. In this category you will find down pillows. These pillows are filled with a mix of soft down and feathers from ducks or geese. This makes them soft and very comfortable.

The springs adapt well and easily to the shape of your head and neck. So you shake it into the shape you like. As a result, neck and head fit nicely and you are less likely to suffer from neck and shoulder pain.

Down pillows are also suitable for people with allergies. However, always check carefully that the pillow provides the right support for you. Because afterwards you cannot easily adjust this.

Wool pillows also come in many varieties. Think wool from sheep, goats or camels. Wool contains lanolin, which provides natural antibacterial properties. The moisture-regulating and heat-regulating properties of wool are very powerful. So it is ideal for people who perspire easily.

How do you maintain a pillow?

A pillow, depending on its quality, lasts an average of up to 5 years. The better you maintain a pillow, the longer you can benefit from it. In addition, maintaining your pillow also has many hygienic benefits. You can maintain your pillow in several ways:

  1. First, it is important to wash it regularly (annually) to avoid dust, bacteria and mites. However, always consult the label for specific washing instructions. Always use a pillow protector under your pillowcase. In fact, you can wash it often and it protects your pillow from sweat, oils from leftover makeup or other body fluids. This not only extends the lifespan, but is also extra hygienic.
  2. It is important to ventilate regularly (daily) to reduce moisture and odors. If you can, air the perfect pillow outside at least once a week.

Cushions have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years. Be sure to maintain your pillow during that time. Does your pillow hang limply on your hand and all support is gone? If so, replace it immediately for a new one.


Your pillow has a big impact on your sleep quality. A good pillow contributes to a good night’s sleep and prevents physical complaints, such as a stiff neck and shoulders. However, it is important to choose one that suits you well.

Therefore, when buying a pillow, keep in mind your sleeping position, your body weight, any physical complaints and the material.

Have you found the perfect pillow? Top! Then, of course, you want to benefit from it for as long as possible. You do this by maintaining the pillow properly. Wash your pillow if you can, air it outside regularly and use a pillow protector to protect your pillow from sweat, oils and other body fluids.

How do you choose the perfect pillow? Most Frequently Asked Questions

If you have problems with your shoulders, neck, or back, a shape pillow is recommended. These give proper support to your neck and back vertebrae.

How hard or soft your pillow should be depends on your sleeping position. The firmness of your mattress is also a factor. With a soft mattress, a hard pillow is recommended, and vice versa.

A pillow will last about three to five years. After that, you should replace your pillow.