I recently came across a great article at The Sweethome on the best pillow for most people. The article goes through several considerations when searching for a pillow and based their recommendations after trying 16 pillows with different people that have different sleeping styles. It’s not a perfect article, but it’s a great place to start in looking for your ideal pillow.
We spend a third of our lives asleep and having a good pillow is especially important for those of us with neck problems. My experience is that getting the right pillow is very personal, and it depends on several factors including body size and sleeping position. I’ve found this out the hard way after recommending my favorite pillow. (I’ve personally spent close to a thousand dollars looking for the perfect pillow for myself).
In general a pillow should give your head and neck support. It should be comfortable, and the support and comfort should last through the night. In general, side sleepers need a larger pillow, back sleepers need a smaller pillow and stomach sleepers like a flat pillow. (BTW, stomach sleeping is the worst position for your neck, let me know if you have trouble holding your alignment and are a stomach sleeper.)
One thing that The Sweethome article recommends is a pillow that is somewhat moldable, because the support that we need changes during the week depending on the stress in our lives.
The categories of pillow that they review are down, down alternative, buckwheat hull, and latex. They explain in the article why down is not recommended for most people and why they didn’t bother testing memory foam and other alternative technologies.
Their favorite pillow is the Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillows in medium at Overstock.com (if you are a small back sleeper or a stomach sleeper consider the soft, if you are very large and solely a side sleeper, get a firm). They feel that it is the best pillow for most people because of its comfort, moldability, coolness, and breathability. It’s also a great value at under $20 a pillow.
The other alternative fill pillows that they considered were the buckwheat hull and latex. Buckwheat (which is what I’ve used since 2009) gives outstanding support and is great at maintaining it’s shape. It’s drawbacks are that it’s hard and noisy. They recommend the Beans72 pillow because it was the best in support, breathability, comfort and was the quietest of the ones that they tested. It comes overstuffed and you need to personalize it by pulling hulls out. I have to disagree with their size recommendation. I don’t think that queen size is the best for most people. My pillow is smaller than their standard/twin size, but larger than their Japanese size. They are heavy and I can’t imagine moving one that is heavier than what I have. I’ve sent a question into the reviewers and will update this when I get their reply.
The third style that they recommend is latex. The benefits are that they are very cool and gives great support, but they are not moldable. Their favorite is the Simmons Beautyrest.
The article goes into detail reviewing several top competitors and why they chose the ones that they did. The article also links to other review sites as well as mention other technologies to consider. It’s not a perfect article, but it is a great place to start.
I’m ordering some of the top rated pillows for my patients to try out. I’ll let you know when they are in.
Update 1-8-14: The Overstock pillows are in. They are nice, but I prefer my buckwheat hull pillow. I’ll get the buckwheat hull recommendation next week and the latex pillow in this week. Also, I’ve decided that I need to get a shredded latex pillow that is zippered/adjustable. I just purchased Ultimate Dreams Adjustable Thickness Shredded Latex Pillow. It should be in next week. I think that it would a great combination of soft, fluffy, adjustable, cool, quiet, and will hold it position better than any of the other pillows besides the buckwheat hull.
Update: I am recommending the shredded latex Ultimate Dreams for most people. I like the ability to mold it. Get the smaller pillow. The larger one is really big.
The Sweethome: The Best Bed Pillows
Update 2: The pillow that I use is the Duplex Night Pillow in the standard size. I have them fill it with buckwheat hulls in both sides and it keeps it together much better than a one pocket buckwheat hull pillow. The millet moved around too much for me. Unfortunately, they are no longer available, but this one looks similar: Ultimate Hull Pillow Kit
Update 6-25-21: The above pillow smells. One of my patients brought it in because the smell was unbearable for her. I am now recommending 100% Natural Shredded Latex Pillow from Sleeping Organic.