Whether you're a back, side, or stomach sleeper, here's how to choose the perfect pillow for you.
“There isn’t one pillow that fits us all,” says Rebecca Robbins, PhD, a sleep researcher at NYU School of Medicine and Beautyrest sleep expert. When you’re lying on the mattress in your dominant position, your head and neck should be level with your spine. Test out different arrangements to see if you need more than one pillow for proper cushioning and support. If your pillow is more than two years old or has lost its buoyancy, it’s time to toss it. Besides a lousy night’s sleep, the wrong pillow can lead to headaches and neck pain.
A back sleeper should aim for medium thickness and a cushion that offers some extra horizontal lift toward the bottom for neck support.
A side sleeper needs a voluminous pillow, to fill the space between the ear and shoulder. A pillow on the firmer side with a wide gusset—the rectangular panels sewn around the perimeter—is a solid choice.
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A stomach sleeper should opt for thin cushioning (or no pillow at all) to avoid neck strain. Down, which compresses easily, is usually a good fill option.