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Which pillow provides the best support?

19 Nov, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

Looking for a new pillow? Then it is important that you choose the right pillow that fits you perfectly. Which pillow provides the best support? Or rather, which pillow provides your head and neck with optimal support during sleep? In fact, the wrong choice can cause back and neck pain. Exactly which pillow you need has to do not only with your personal preferences, but also with your physique and sleeping position.

Pillows in many forms

Are you also overwhelmed by the plethora of options? Roughly speaking, we distinguish four forms of pillows:

  1. Pointed pillows (classic shape)
    In this “classic” pillow, the 4 corners run flush into a point. Often filled with down, ball fiber or microfiber, it is suitable for any type of sleeper.
  2. Box cushions
    This pillow has a raised edge on the sides. So your shoulders fit better on the pillow and your neck and head are well supported. Not directly recommended for notorious belly sleepers.
  3. Neck support pillows
    This pillow has an extra firm edge or neck roll at the bottom and has the look of a regular pillow in the head area. Especially interesting for those who experience shoulder and neck pain while desiring good and manipulable support. Typically, the foam or latex “bar” at the bottom of the pillow is stitched separately. The rest of the pillow is padded with natural or synthetic material. Importantly, this extra support must fit “like a glove” in the space between the head and shoulders. Some of these pillows consist at the head area of several individually adjustable chambers. Thus, thanks to the convenient zipper, you can remove padding if you find it a bit too much.
  4. Mold cushions
    Often memory foam, gel or latex cushions are molded into a particular anatomical shape. For example, thicker waves are created under the neck and thinner waves for the head area. Or typical moon- or curvy-shaped edges are provided so that the shoulder area fits the head and neck more easily.

What is your favorite sleeping position?

  • Back sleeper
    If you usually fall asleep on your back, your head should not be higher or lower than your spine. Depending on the firmness of your mattress, you generally choose a softer pillow. Also recommended is a moon-shaped pillow that is curved at the bottom: this way your shoulders will fit even better.
  • Side sleeper
    Side sleepers pay particular attention to ensuring that the head and neck are well supported. A thicker and firmer pillow relieves the neck muscles. How thick? It also depends on the width of your shoulders. Logical actually. The rule: your spine and cervical vertebrae form a perfectly horizontal line when you lie on your side. Please note that this rule does not apply if, for example, abnormal lateral curvatures to the spine or scoliosis to your back has been diagnosed.
  • Belly sleeper
    Of all the positions, the prone position is the least recommended. This puts considerable pressure on the cervical vertebrae. Still a persistent and unconverted belly sleeper? Then it’s best to choose a thin and soft pillow to avoid an unnatural sleeping position.

Of course, you don’t sleep in the same position for hours on end, so your favorite sleeping position is not set in stone. Often you wake up in the morning in a very different position than you went to sleep. Perfectly normal! To choose the right pillow, it is best to consider the position in which you prefer to fall asleep. By the way, did you know that we turn every 10 to 15 minutes during sleep? That’s easily about 40 times a night. Moving in our sleep is good for blood circulation and relieves stress on our joints. However, are you a master vole? Then there is often more to it. A mattress that is too hard or a bad pillow (!) can cause you to move excessively during sleep. And that is pernicious for quality sleep. With the blog ‘Should a mattress be hard or soft? (all pros and cons)‘ we give you lots of tips.

Hard or soft: which pillow offers the best support?

In addition to your sleeping position, your body weight also plays a role. Are you a featherweight yourself and sleep on a hard pillow? Then chances are your head is too high. Conversely, the same principle applies: do you have a firm build and your pillow is a soft, thin one? Then your head sags too much. In either case, your spine is not in a straight line with your neck. We remember: the heftier the physique, the firmer the pillow. And also: the best pillow for your neighbor or best friend may not be the best pillow for you. Go out and test which pillow suits you best.

And the filling of your pillow?

This is where your personal preference prevails. You can choose from natural fillings such as down, feathers, latex, wool, kapok or cotton. But you also have plenty to choose from in terms of synthetic fillings. Think polyester fiber, cold foam, memory foam or latex foam. Learn more about the various pros and cons in the blog, “Which pillow filling is the best?

Could you use some help choosing your ideal pillow? In the blog:‘how to choose the perfect pillow‘ and help you choose.