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How To Choose The Right Pillows For Your Bed

Once you’ve chosen the perfect mattress, you need to make sure you have the right pillows to match. Gone are the days when you had a simple choice – foam or down. These days, there is an endless supply of different pillows, depending on your preferences. Whether you want an anti-allergen pillow, you sleep on your back, side or stomach, or you want the spring-back firmness of memory foam.

How do you sleep?

If you sleep on your back, your side, or your stomach, it will have a big impact on what kind of pillow you choose. While much of your decision will be focused on the natural vs synthetic debate (and probably your budget as well), how you settle down to sleep plays a key role on your final decision.

Close up of white pillows on a white bed

The best pillows if you sleep on your side

Over 40% of the population sleep on their sides. If you’re one of the millions of side sleepers then keeping your neck and shoulders in line is super-important to avoid neck and shoulder pain. Choose a slightly firmer option and is thick enough to fill the gap between your shoulder and your ear. You can choose a softer option if you prefer. But make sure your head doesn’t droop down to avoid waking up with a stiff neck. We recommend:

Silentnight Wellbeing Collection Re-balance Pillow – Silentnight are masters at getting you off to a blissful sleep, and their Wellbeing Collection Re-balance Pillow is no exception. Allergen-free and with some clever carbon technology built-in, they’re ideal for side sleepers.

Close up of a pair of Silentnight Wellbeing Collection Re-balance Pillows, on top of a white mattress
Silentnight Wellbeing Collection Re-balance Pillow Pair

Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow – Firm – Memory foam gives you that all-important support to keep your head and neck in alignment. The Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow does just that. The firm option is our top pick for side sleepers. But if you do prefer something a little softer, then there is a medium option available too.

A Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow lying on top of a white mattress
Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow

If you are a side sleeper and need a new mattress, read our best type of mattress for side sleepers article.

The best pillows if you sleep on your back

If you sleep on your back, you should opt for something thinner to help the neck stay aligned with the spine. Additionally, the pillow should be on the softer side to prevent the head from rising too high. However, you also have the option to go for something firmer if you’re looking for a manmade option such as memory foam. Firmness is particularly important if you have lower back pain. So do take this into consideration as well when you’re picking your pillow. Our top three pillows for back sleepers are:

Relyon Superior Comfort Slim Latex Pillow – natural latex and a soft feel gives this slimline pillow a dreamy feel. The Relyon Superior Comfort Slim Latex Pillow cradles your neck and head, keeping your spine aligned in a neutral position.

A packaged Relyon Superior Comfort Slim Latex Pillow
Relyon Superior Comfort Slim Latex Pillow

The best pillows if you sleep on your front

It may not be recommended, but loads of people do it – if you’re a front sleeper you’re not alone. The trouble with choosing a pillow for front sleepers is picking one that not only gives you the support you need, but as your head is turned to breathe, doesn’t smother you as well! Go for as thin a pillow as you can, and our top tip is if you find you’re suffering from an aching back in the morning, pop a soft pillow under your stomach or pelvis to keep your spine in line. Our top pillows for front sleepers are:

Silentnight Soft As Silk Pillow Twin Pack – You’ll only need one of these silky soft pillows if you’re a front sleeper. The Silentnight Soft As Silk Pillow is a great choice thanks to its hypoallergenic construction and slim construction.

Silentnight Soft As Silk Pillow Twin Pack in packaging
Silentnight Soft As Silk Pillow Twin Pack

Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow – Tuck this wonderfully comfortable pillow under your tummy if you’re a front sleeper. The Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow is irresistibly soft, yet offers plenty of support.

A Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow in packaging
Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow

The best pillows for neck pain

Waking up with neck pain can ruin your whole day. If you want to stop that ‘cricked neck’ feeling in its tracks, our top tip is to go for a memory foam pillow like the Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow (soft). Memory foam moulds to the shape of your body, giving you exceptional support and removing any excess pressure on your joints. Memory foam is suitable for all types of sleepers, just make sure it’s the right level of thickness if you’re a side sleeper.

A soft Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow in packaging
Silentnight Impress Memory Foam Pillow – Soft

The best pillows if you are pregnant

Getting comfortable when you’re pregnant, especially in the final trimester, is difficult. To give your stomach and abdomen the support it needs, we recommend tucking a Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow under your tummy to provide some relief.

The best pillows for allergy sufferers

The vast majority of pillows these days are hypoallergenic, but it’s not just those who suffer from allergies that can benefit from hypoallergenic pillows. If you suffer from asthma or respiratory conditions then a Sleepeezee Anti Allergy Pillow is our top pick. If you have sensitive skin then the gentle silk surface of the Silentnight Soft as Silk pillow will minimise the chance of any skin rashes or flare-ups of conditions such as eczema.

A pair of Sleepeezee Anti Allergy Pillows packaged
Sleepeezee Anti Allergy Pillow Pair

The best cooling pillows

If you tend to ‘run a little hot’ at night, suffer from hot flushes or night sweats, or just love that ice-cool feeling on your cheek, then there are specific pillows that will give you a cooler night’s sleep. The best cooling pillows include:

Silentnight Cooler Summer Pillows – a great budget choice, Silentnight Cooler Summer pillows are made from super-lightweight fibres that allow the air to flow through.

Close up image of a pair of Silentnight Cooler Summer Pillows on white bed
Silentnight Cooler Summer Pillow Twin Pack 

Pillow fillings

There are several different pillow types available, all with differing benefits and limitations. However, in general, there are two categories to consider with pillows: natural and synthetic.

Duck feather pillows

Super soft and ultra-luxurious, feather and down pillows are generously filled to provide plenty of support for your neck and head. Our absolute favourite when it comes to duck feather pillows has to be the Silentnight Feather and Down Pillow. These come as a pair, so you're getting real value for money - and it's made by Silentnight, a brand you can trust.

It's filled with duck feathers and down to give you that wonderfully soft and squidgy feel as you sink into it, but with no compromise on support. A breathable cotton cover keeps things from getting too hot and prevents bacteria and dust from setting up home.

It’s ideal for those who want a luxurious, medium-support pillow that’s also naturally and ethically sourced. Best of all, you can wash down and feather pillows to keep them fluffy, fresh and clean.

A pair of Silentnight Feather and Down Pillows in packaging
Silentnight Feather and Down Pillow Pair

Gel pillows

These are designed with an additional layer of gel to keep you cooler at night. They’re usually combined with memory foam for a firmer feel. Gel pillows are ideal if you suffer from night sweats or simply prefer a cooler feel.

Hollowfibre pillows

Hollowfibre is one of the most common forms of synthetic pillow on the market and are made up of hollowfibre materials and polyester, offering a bouncy, comfy feel that also helps to retain the pillow’s plump appearance, preventing it from sagging in the middle. A budget-friendly option.

Latex pillows

Latex pillows such as the Relyon Superior Comfort Deep Latex Pillow are firm and offer a good level of support for your head and neck during the night. They’re resistant to mould and dust mites and are good for back sleepers.

A white Relyon Superior Comfort Deep Latex Pillow

Relyon Superior Comfort Deep Latex Pillow

Memory foam and memory grade pillows

Memory foam features visco-elastic material which offers superior support for your neck and spine during sleep. It contours naturally with your body, taking unnecessary pressure off certain points. This style of pillow can become particularly popular in recent years because of its pain-relieving features. Medical Grade Foam Pillows are often advised by clinicians for those who suffer from neck and shoulder problems.

Natural pillows

Natural pillows contain materials such as wool and feathers and recent innovations such as bamboo fibres. They’re fully recyclable, which gives them some serious green credentials.

How many pillows should I sleep with?

The number of pillows you sleep with entirely depends on your personal choice and comfort. If you’re a front sleeper you may forgo a pillow altogether, or you may not feel comfortable unless you have two fluffy pillows to snuggle into. For more information on this issue, check out our article on how many pillows you should sleep with for a more in-depth look.

How long do pillows last?

You should aim to replace your pillow every two years. Pillows can become worn, deformed and discoloured from persistent use. In some cases, they can also become ineffective at supporting your head, neck, and spine during the night. An old pillow can also harbour some unwelcome guests in the form of dust mites. So if you have allergies, change your pillows regularly for hypoallergenic options such as the Willow Anti Allergy Medicare Pillow.

A pair of Willow Anti Allergy Medicare Pillows in packaging
Willow Anti Allergy Medicare Pillow Pair

Can I wash my pillow?

Some pillows can be washed. But memory foam pillows cannot usually be washed. The best way to protect your pillows to extend their lifespan is to always use a pillowcase and wash it regularly. You can also use an additional slipcover underneath the pillowcase that will protect the surface of your pillow.

How do I get rid of old pillows and other bedding?

Wherever possible, it’s advisable to recycle your pillows as much as you can. Down and feather options, as well as those made of natural materials such as silk or cotton, are fully recyclable. Some memory foam options may be recyclable. But it’s best to check before you buy to avoid sending them to landfills once they’ve come to the end of their useful life.