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Last updated: June 19, 2020

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Are you aware that a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health? In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, the Western environment is interfering with natural sleep patterns. Canadians are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well. If you’re looking to improve your quality of sleep, start with your bedding and keep in mind that just like a mattress, a quality pillow is the best guarantee for a good rest. If you often wake up tired, with tight shoulders or kinks in your back and neck; it may be time to look into a new pillow.

To help get a good night’s sleep, the one thing you can do every night is follow the number one rule to getting a good night’s sleep: making sure to have your head, neck and spine well aligned. The easiest way to correcting your sleep position and aligning your body is getting a good pillow. The job of a pillow is to allow you to have the best posture so that you can relax all your muscles and thus supporting quality rest. Do you know how to choose the best pillow for your posture and your sleep patterns? If this seems like a daunting task, you’re in luck! This shopping guide is made with everything you need to know in order to find the perfect pillow.

Key Facts

  • Flatter and smaller pillows are meant for smaller and lightweight persons or those who sleep on their stomach. A pillow should be wider than the shoulders whenever possible. Thicker and larger pillows made for side sleepers and medium-stuffed pillows are for those who sleep on their backs.
  • There are pillows specially designed for people with muscle pains and aches. These include models that provide cervical support and some that offer texture patterns for acupressure. These models are also ideal during pregnancy.
  • The model you choose will likely be determined by your posture during sleep. Keep in mind that it’s firmness and malleability will be determined by the filling and manufacturing materials.

The best pillows on the Canadian market

If your goal is to establish a good sleep routine in order to ensure a good night’s sleep, you should start by choosing the right pillow. Because there are so many options available to Canadians, in order to choose the right pillow you’ll have to consider things like your sleeping patterns and physique — specifically your weight and height. To serve as a guide, in this next section we’ve selected and listed the very best pillows out there, read on to find the right pillow for you.

Utopia — Gusseted Quilted Pillow (2 pack)

The 2 packs of white microfibre gusset pillows have a double-stitched piping around the outer edge of the pillow that not only gives a posh, luxurious look, but also enhances it’s durability. It’s queen size has dimensions of 45 x 66 cm, providing a large surface to support the head for even the most fidgety of sleepers. It contains a medium-firm blend filling that ensures a pain free, long night’s sleep without any interruptions.

These pillows come in a vacuum sealed package, so you must allow at least 30 minutes for them to fluff up completely. To achieve full volume, give the pillows a squish and squeeze the edges in, the pillows will stay puffed and fluffy all night long. If you are someone who prefers thick but soft pillows, this is the product you’ve been looking for. Reviewers comment on the long lasting plushness that these pillows have and the full neck support they provide, often better than firmer, less pliable memory foam pillows.

UTTU — Sandwich Memory Foam Pillow

With a special cervical spine curve design, this memory foam pillow by UTTU provides exceptional neck and back support for back, stomach and side sleepers. This memory foam pillow is a specially designed orthopaedic contour pillow; a high end clinical product that comes at an extremely affordable price. The pillow is 10 cm at its high contour point, and 9 cm high at its low contour point. The unique adjustable-height design allows you to reduce the respective heights to 8 cm and 6 cm, suitable for all sizes of sleepers.

The UTTU dynamic foam conforms to the natural curve of your body to alleviate shoulder stiffness, promotes proper spinal alignment, and helps muscles relax. This specially designed memory foam doesn’t get hard under cold temperatures, maintaining a consistent firmness. The bamboo cover is made of 60% polyester and 40% all natural bamboo fibre. It is a high breathable pillow that allows for air circulation, making it a cooling pillow. The cover is fully removable and machine washable.

Mastery Mart — Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Mastery Mart guarantees that their special, top quality memory foam pillow will never go flat! The fully adjustable pillow has an inner zipper case and a super soft removable bamboo cover. The bamboo derived rayon cover is machine washable, and made to allow for maximum ventilation to help keep you cool all night long. This pillow is great for those that suffer from allergies, as this pillow is antimicrobial and resistant to mould, milder, bacteria and dust mites.

Orthopedically designed, this pillow promotes proper head, neck and back alignment to reduce tossing and turning that causes sleeping problems. Simple open the inner zip to adjust the amount of filling or reposition any rare lumps that may occur due to packaging. The pillow comes in a compressed pack, but will expand fully in a matter of 1-2 days. Unlike some memory foam pillows, this pillow is supportive, yet soft and has been shown to significantly reduce neck pain.

BedStory — Luxury Down Pillow Alternative (2 pack)

The BedStory luxury hotel collection pillow is designed with three-dimensional cluster plush fibre fillings surrounded by a soft cover that is easy on the skin. These pillows are firm enough to support the head and neck, but soft enough to easily manoeuvre into a comfortable position whether you are a side, back or stomach sleeper. This down pillow offers excellent flexibility and superior comfort that cradles the head while you sleep.

Each pillow has a super supportive dual-layered sideband design that allows the pillow to keep its shape, keeping it from flatten with extensive use. It comes with a hypoallergenic cover that is mould and dust mite resistance that keeps even the most allergy sensitive people undisturbed while they sleep. The standard pillow measures 50 x 66 cm and comfortably fits in both a standard and king sized pillow case. It is machine washable and sun or tumble dry. The manufacturer suggests letting it settle for a full 24 hours after taking it out of its compressed packaging to allow for it to fully fluff up and for the initial smell to dissipate.

Recci Breeze — Fiber Pillow

The unique breeze fibre filling in the Recci Breeze Pillow is specially made to allow air to circulate naturally through and within the pillow, making it the only slow rebound fibre pillow on the market. It conforms to the natural curve of your body, providing maximum support for the neck and shoulders, distributing the pressure of the body evenly. This breeze fibre gives this pillow a natural first-class good down feel, but incorporates modern technology that prevents the clumping of filling, keeping the pillow fluffy and even throughout the night.

This pillow is affordable, cruelty-free and completely hypoallergenic. The user is able to adjust the height of the pillow to their needs by simply removing or adding more filling. It is a medium firm stuffing, made softer by removing a layer or two and dispersing the remaining filling inside. Recci Breeze believes in the quality of their products and offers a 30-day 100% back satisfaction guarantee.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about pillows

If you’re under the impression that pillows are irrelevant items in your bed, or mainly there for decorative purposes, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Investing in a good pillow could be the best decision you make if you experience poor sleep or have any neck or back pain. Choosing the right pillow can be a total game changer, so we encourage you to make an informed and well thought of decision — which is why in this next section we go over everything you need to know before making your purchase.

Happy beautiful caucasian girl sleeping on the pillow iin comfortable bed in the bedroom at home in the morning. White bedding. Healthy lifestyle.

Remember that the right pillow will help you decrease the stress you’ve accumulated during the day and help you fall asleep more easily. (Source: Puhhha: 46115646/123rf.com)

What is a pillow exactly?

A pillow is soft item on which you rest your head, a support for the body at rest. It can be designed for comfort, therapy, or decoration. It is always placed at the head of the bed and in Canadian homes, they are usually in a case that matches the bed sheets and cover. Pillows that aid sleeping are a form of bedding that supports the head and neck. It is designed with the goal of keeping the spine straight. Made to fit in and support the neck cavity, allowing the nape of the neck to relax and thus also avoiding tense muscles. Some other types of pillows include throw pillows and decorative pillows.

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By helping you fall asleep easier and allowing you rest properly, having the right pillow can drastically help you reduce the stress you accumulate during the day. Pillows today are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, material and fillings.

What are the types of pillows available?

Most people are not aware about all the different types of pillows and the purpose they serve to different types of needs. Most people often choose a pillow simply based on instinct — looking at the price and taking the size of the bed into consideration — this is a common mistake you should avoid.

Aside from their tailored shape, there are pillows made from natural fibres, synthetic fillings, with firm or softer textures, and the list goes on. To help you compare, in the following table we’ve listed the different types of pillows and their main characteristics.

Type Materials Advantages Disadvantages Characteristics
Viscoelastic Synthetic foam. Fits the shape of the body. May be very hard and trap heat. Cannot be washed in a washing machine. You can choose its size. Certain models offer heat-resistant fabrics.
Fibre Polyester and synthetic fibres. Machine washable. More affordable, they are hypoallergenic. They deform and lose their consistency quickly. The filler may spoil. They are usually very economical. Silicone hollow fibres are hypoallergenic.
Gel Viscoelastic and latex. They feature a gel middle layer. More expensive. Cannot be washed. They require the use of an antiperspirant cover. Ideal for hot areas.
Anatomic Viscoelastic. When in proper posture, allows you to relax. Improves blood flow. The weight is evenly distributed. Square models only allow you to sleep on the back. Getting used to them can be difficult. They can be very firm. Ideal for people with neck or cervical pain.
Feather Goose feathers, down or a combination of both. Malleable structure. Lightweight and cool. Avoid in case of allergies and cervical pains. They require dry cleaning. They are more refreshing.
Latex Latex or a mixture of latex and viscoelastic materials. Excellent head and neck support. Very comfortable and relieves back pain. Can be too firm and cannot be washed. Unpleasant distinctive smell (non-toxic). Smooth texture and provides good cervical support. Pleasant to the touch and with good adaptability.

What is a viscoelastic material?

Viscoelastic protection or padding is a material developed by NASA that presents innovative properties to alleviate the pressure that certain tissues exert onto our bodies. It was originally designed to make space suits more comfortable during take-off. Nowadays, this material is used in the textile, automobile and bedding industries.

It is also used in hospitals for the manufacture of prostheses, as well as for adaptable mattresses and pillows. Because this type of material has the ability to adapt to the natural contour of the body, it helps alleviate pressure in the spine, neck and limbs. Making it the ideal material to promote proper rest for people with lumbar or cervical conditions.

Interior of white bedroom, new linens on the bed, the room at the hotel. Bedside table decor and pillows closeup.

Don’t simply choose a well-known brand or follow the advice of other consumers when choosing your pillow. (Source: Daria Minaeva: 43933317/123rf.com)

Which materials should I choose for my pillow?

Currently, most pillows on the market are made from viscoelastic materials. These models, as well as latex pillows, are the best ones to adapt to the contour of the neck. However, latex pillows are much more likely to cause allergic reactions. Moreover, if they are not cared for properly they may become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.

If you have a tendency to suffer from allergies, your best option will be to choose a pillow made from viscoelastic or synthetic fibre, as both feather and latex have been known to cause some serious allergen problems. Furthermore, if you suffer from cervical pain or back issues, materials like viscoelastic or gel will offer better support and an adequate density that will promote proper rest.

Which type of pillow is the right one for me?

Just like with mattresses, there is no ‘one size fits all’ option: it all depends on your personal needs and requirements. Don’t simply choose a well-known brand or follow the advice of other consumers when choosing your pillow — this should be a personal decision, tailored to meet your sleeping needs. There are many well thought out models, made specifically to meet certain needs, your task is to find the most appropriate one for you.

Here is a quick list of the best pillows for each sleeping posture, consider your circumstances, and find the right one for you:

  • If you sleep on your side: Thicker pillows are recommended. They will keep your neck straight and aligned with your spine. If your neck is not positioned correctly, you will suffer from cervical problems and muscular pains in the long run.
  • If you sleep on your stomach: Your best bet will be a soft, thin, flexible pillow. In this posture, your neck doesn’t need much height to stay aligned with your spine. However, this position isn’t optimal, as it tends to pull heavily on the neck.
  • If you sleep on your back: A pillow with a medium thickness is what you need. Your neck should be raised a little to maintain alignment with your back, although it won’t need to be elevated as much as if you were a side sleeper.

How do I know my pillow size?

Until recently, pillows in Canada came in standard sizes, which depended on the width of the bed. The first change came when they began to be made in softer or harder materials, before the trend of mixing aesthetic and ergonomic factors came along. Nowadays, your personal anatomy will help you establish which pillow best suits your needs.

There are three criteria you should consider in order to pick your pillow size: the build of your shoulders, your sleeping posture and the firmness you want or need. One way to find your size is to lie on a very thin pillow and add towels until you find the right posture. When you’ve got it, measure the pillow and towels and this should give you your ideal size.

Pretty, young woman choosing the right pillow for her bed in a modern home furnishings store (color toned image; shallow DOF)

Until recently, pillows had standard sizes depending on the width of the bed. (Source: Lightpoet: 50640652/ 123rf.com)

Which are better viscoelastic pillows or feather pillows?

Viscoelastic pillows stand out because of the special foam with which they are manufactured. It can very easily adapt to the user’s anatomy, as it fits the shape of the head and neck. They are most recommended for people with back and neck problems. However, these pillows have a tendency to be uncomfortable if you sleep on your side.

On the other hand, pillows filled with feathers or downed do not offer sufficient firmness, which makes them ideal if you sleep on your stomach. Even though their softness allows them to adapt well to almost any posture, they are not the best option for people who sleep on their backs. These types of pillows are durable and lightweight and they can also get a little warm, this makes them ideal pillows for harsh Canadian winters.

Still unsure about which pillow is best? In the table below we have outlined the main differences between synthetic and natural pillows:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Viscoelastic – memory foam They adapt better to the contour of our body. They are hypoallergenic and very easy to find. They can be washed. Ideal for people with muscle problems. They can be very firm and are not suitable for sleeping on your side. They are somewhat more expensive.
Down Lighter, they easily adapt to all sleeping postures. Pleasant to the touch with a mouldable structure. They also manage temperature better. This form is to be avoided by those who suffer from allergies. Their maintenance also requires more effort. Not recommended for people with neck pain.

What are the care instructions for pillows?

Taking care of your pillow is important if you want to extend its useful life and get the most out of it. As a general rule, the number one maintenance tip is airing it out on a regular basis. It is also recommended to turn it over often, this is meant to avoid it becoming deformed, mouldy or yellowish on one side. It is also super important to always remember to use a pillowcase. Depending on its manufacturing material, each type of pillow will require specific care. Check out the table below with the main types of pillows and the maintenance they require:

Pillow type Maintenance
Fibre Machine wash delicate, wrap it in a cloth of the same colour and you can roll it up to avoid deformation. Do not tumble-dry and make sure to wash it separately.
Viscoelastic or memory foam Do not wash, as they deteriorate and do not dry fully. Check the manufacturer’s label for instructions. Make sure to wash the pillowcase frequently. Add a protective breathable fabric pillowcase and air it out daily. Vacuum it once every two weeks. Turn it over often.
Latex Same maintenance as with viscoelastic models.
Gel and anatomically designed Same as viscoelastic pillows. However, do not turn them around, as the gel will lose its usefulness.
Feather Wash at least once a year. If it has stains, soak for one hour with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Put a tennis ball in the washer and dryer with the pillow to prevent feathers from clumping. Make sure to use the delicate washing program and liquid soap. Do not add fabric softener, most can be put through the dryer or air dried on a flat surface.

How often should I change my pillow?

A well-kept pillow can last anywhere from five years to a lifetime. Naturally, its duration will depend on its quality and manufacturing materials. Depending on the model, a pillow could last you decades while others may need to be changed within the first couple of years. Its longevity will be affected by how well you take care of it, as well as whether or not you use a protective cover.

That being said, in most cases it is recommended to change pillows every few years. This is because after this time, it is actually very likely that the pillow has deformed irreversibly or it has acquired mites, which are impossible to get rid of. Of course, if you find your pillow is no longer comfortable or it doesn’t support you the way it used you before the 2 years have passed, you should definitely get a new pillow before this time.

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Did you know that Did you know that the word pillow comes from Middle English pilwe, from Old English pyle (akin to Old High German pfuliwi) and from Latin pulvinus?

Which is the best pillow to combat back and neck pain?

Sleeping without a pillow, or with a pillow that is too firm or too small, can cause neck and back pain. If you feel pain after sleeping, try choosing a model that provides good support for your head and neck, without being too firm. Viscoelastic pillows are the go-to choice for people suffering from cervical, neck or head pain.

These pillows perfectly adapt to the shape of the head and neck. They are also designed to alleviate pressure and to help relax the muscles around this area. They are also called “memory foam” because return to their original shape when pressure is lifted away from them. These types of pillows offer medium firmness and resistance, which provides a pleasant level of relaxation around the neck.

Is sleeping with a pillow between the legs useful?

Simply sitting and walking correctly is not all that is needed for maintaining good posture: sleeping properly is also important. During sleep, the tissues, ligaments and muscles of your back regenerate, which is why a proper sleeping position is so essential. Regardless of which side you sleep on, you must keep your neck and back axes aligned.

If you tend to sleep on your side, using a pillow between your legs is the best option to avoid causing muscle injuries and to rest more comfortably.

This technique helps keep the hips level, while also taking some of the weight from the top leg. This helps eliminate the pressure on the hip and lower back muscles, resulting in much better alignment.

How are cervical pillows used?

This type of pillow is the best choice for people who frequently have neck and/or back problems. However, you have to know how to use them properly if you want to benefit from their positive impact. In order to get the most out of these pillows, place your whole head on the pillow, always trying to have your shoulders fully on the mattress.

Ideally, your head, neck and shoulders should be perfectly aligned in order to be able to adopt a natural posture. This posture will help prevent neck injuries and back pains. Different from most other pillows, with cervical pillows you must sleep on your back, otherwise this model will not be efficient and you may even make matters worse.

Shopping Criteria

Pillows are incredibly important items if you want to get the best rest possible. Nowadays, thanks to scientific development, the market offers a wide range of models and types — such as cervical, memory foam or latex. All this choice may make it harder to be able to choose the right pillow, so in this next section we’ve included the key aspects you should consider when shopping for a new pillow.

Material

One of the most important aspects when looking for the right pillow, is it’s material — just as important as its quality and how it fits to your needs. As mentioned before, memory foam pillows are currently the best-selling models in Canada. This is probably because they are very comfortable and resistant items. They adapt perfectly to the contours of the neck, alleviating pain and stress in the process.

In Canada today, synthetic fibres and memory foam are the popular materials for pillows.

If you want to opt for more traditional materials, feather, downed, natural or synthetic fibre pillows will be your options. The latter is the best choice for people with allergies, and it so happens to be the most affordable too. Finally, you should probably opt for those made of latex if you prioritise soft touch and greater durability — Keep in mind however, choosing these types of pillows means a greater initial investment.

happy family having pillow fight in bed at home

A well-maintained pillow can last up to five years, but this naturally depends on its quality and manufacturing materials. (Source: Dolgachov: 71148969/ 123rf.com)

Measurements

As you read in other sections of this guide, choosing the right size pillow isn’t just about having it match the size of your bed. While this is how they were measured and chosen in the past, there is a lot more to consider these days. Now for example, there are higher or lower pillows depending your needs and posture while sleeping.

It stands to reason that predominantly sleeping one way over another — on your side as opposed to on your stomach or on your back — will mean having different requirements for your pillow. Some pillows even have the capacity to adjust their height through a system of interchangeable internal parts. These models are made for persons who suffer from back or neck problems. Even though they are more expensive, they are the best alternative for those wanting to rectify their posture.

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Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.

Sleeping posture

We would like to mention this again, the position in which you sleep predominantly will play a large role in helping you determine which pillow you should purchase. As mentioned before, for instance, stomach sleepers are advised to opt for feather or down pillows, these tend to be thinner and more malleable, allowing the neck to remain in line with the spine in this posture.

On the other hand, cervical or gel models are made tailored for people who sleep on their backs. Memory foam or latex pillows will also be comfortable for sleeping on your back since they have a higher density. Fibre pillows are extremely versatile: they adapt well to the curvature of the neck and fit easily, whether you sleep on your side or in any other posture.

Mna sleeping with Pilow

Sleeping without a pillow, or with a pillow that is too high or too low, can cause neck and back issues. (Source: Subbotina: 30286412/ 123rf.com)

Design

Most pillows have a similar and traditional design, even though some may be taller, wider or longer depending on their size. However, certain models feature special therapeutic benefits, made specifically for people with problems with their posture or cervical aches and back pain.

We can’t stress enough how important your sleeping posture is in helping you determine which pillow design will be best to suit your needs. Make sure not to settle for the first pillow you find, make sure that it adapts to your posture, needs and preferences.

Pillowcase

The pillowcase is another key element that shouldn’t be neglected. Most pillows come with a washable cover. Memory foam pillows, for instance, have a protective cover that you will need to wash on a regular basis. These pillowcases are generally made from natural fibres such as eucalyptus or bamboo.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the material of the pillowcase when buying your pillow: it should be hypoallergenic and anti-mite. This factor is particularly important if you suffer from asthma or have some kind of allergy to dust. Last but not least, make sure that the cover is both removable and washable.

Young adult couple sleeping peacefully on the bed in bedroom. Young man embracing woman while lying asleep. Loving couple sleeping lying in bed at home.

Certain pillows perfectly adapt to the shape of the head and neck, and are designed to alleviate pressure on the area and relax the muscles. (Source: Rido: 53545360/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Choosing the right pillow means understanding that pillows are so much more than just lumps of fabric and cloth on which we rest our heads. The quality of your sleep will largely depend on choosing the right pillow. Making an informed decision will also help you prevent the neck and back pains that are the result of bad alignment while sleeping. Always make sure your pillow allows you to align the axes of your neck and back.

As we explained throughout this guide, many factors will come into play when the time comes to buy a new pillow. Some of the things you should consider are your sleeping posture, whether or not you suffer from neck or back pain, the manufacturing materials of the pillow and even its maintenance requirements. If you follow our advice and keep these things in mind, we’re confident that you’ll be able to pick the perfect pillow that will allow you to get the most refreshing sleep.

If you liked our shopping guide to pillows, feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below, or share this guide with your friends and family so that they too can get a better nights’ sleep!

(Source of featured image: Belchonock: 32985619/ 123rf.com)

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Our writers and editors at SWEETESTHOME.ca focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available everyday products in the Canadian market.