Kirill Yurovskiy: How to choose a pillow for sleeping


Kirill Yurovskiy

What is an anatomical pillow? Or maybe it’s time to buy a beauty pillow? What material should be inside, latex, bamboo or feather? Now you’ll know exactly what to look for in the store.

Why the right pillow is important

The wrong pillow isn’t just a source of discomfort. If your neck is in an uncomfortable position for a long time, it can lead to uncomfortable or even painful sensations.

In general the rule is: when you sleep your spine should be straight and your neck should not bend – which means that the pillow should fill the space between your shoulder and head (if you sleep on your side) or support your neck if you sleep on your back. If there is not enough support and your neck is bent the vertebrae will be moved a bit and consequently the nerves in the cervical spine will be pressed. Because of poor blood circulation or muscle tension you may have a headache – and even if the pain goes away quickly it’s a signal from the body that you should not ignore. Site with more info.

In addition, a bad pillow affects the quality of sleep. Trying to make ourselves more comfortable, we toss and turn and wake up more often, and our sleep becomes discontinuous and shallow. Scientists link lack of sleep with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the development of atherosclerosis. Not to mention mild nervousness, reduced concentration and inattention during the day.

In general, if you wake up in the morning with a desire to stretch your neck muscles, headache or just systematically not getting enough sleep, it’s time to change your pillow.

What is the difference between orthopedic and anatomical pillows

To begin with, you need to understand that the word “orthopedic” means that the pillow is designed to treat and prevent diseases of the cervical spine, which means that you should order it by doctor’s appointment. This pillow has a special shape to keep the spine and neck in the correct position.

Anatomic pillow is made of material that adapts to the shape of the body, repeating the curve of the neck and spine – usually latex or memory foam. The advantage is that such a pillow will help relieve fatigue and relieve stress on the neck muscles. However, when choosing, it is worth considering the position in which you usually sleep: for example, the “wave” shape (with a small roll under the neck) is not suitable for those who sleep on their side or on their back.

How to choose a pillow size

There are two aspects. The first is the size of the pillow itself. In Russia, two common standards: square 70×70 cm and rectangular 50×70 cm. It is to these pillows that most manufacturers produce bed linen, although square pillowcases are still less common. It should be understood that the square pillow is larger, and therefore more expensive – it requires more filler and fabric. In general, it is a matter of habit. For a comfortable sleep, a pillow measuring 50×70 cm is quite enough. 

The second aspect – the height. And here, when choosing, you need to take into account the posture in which you usually back. High pillows are suitable for those who prefer to sleep on their side: the pillow should fill all the space between your shoulder and the ear. Measure the length of your shoulder from the base of the neck to the shoulder joint – choose a pillow of this height.

If you usually sleep on your back, a lower pillow with a height of 8-10 cm will do for you. Perhaps an anatomic pillow with a recess for the head will be optimal. If it is comfortable to lie on it, it is worth choosing this option.

Those who sleep on the stomach are advised to use thinner, almost flat pillows. In this position the neck is tense enough, so we should make sure that the head is not thrown back.

Often change the position while sleeping? Either look for a compromise – there are intermediate options – or buy two pillows at once: low and medium. Low will be able to remove or, conversely, put under.

Not a bad option – a pillow in a pillow, they already offer some manufacturers. Part of the filler can be taken out and thus adjust the height.

Remember the basic rule: when you lie on the pillow your neck and spine should be straight with a natural curve.

How to choose a filler for a pillow

The filler is responsible for the rigidity of the pillow, and this point is also very important for people who have allergies. What are the options?

Down and feather

Modern pillows usually consist of a combination of these materials. The down is responsible for airiness and softness, and the feather provides elasticity. When buying pay attention to the percentage ratio: the more down, the softer and lighter the pillow will be.

The down and feather pillows advantages are natural. In addition, these pillows keep warmth well and quickly recover their shape. The minus is that dust mites appear in feather pillows. In general, these pillows are contraindicated to allergy sufferers, because down and feathers are strong allergens. In addition, down pillows are short-lived: they need to be replaced about once every two years.


The wool of sheep and camels is usually used for pillows. The pillows become soft and resilient, hold warmth well and are well ventilated. However, this stuffing can also cause allergies and is short-lived: over time, the wool piles up in clumps. In addition, it is an excellent breeding ground for dust mites, and woolen products love moths. Wool pillows should not be washed.


The pillows use a special bamboo fiber: a light, soft, resilient natural material. Such pillows are quite durable and environmentally friendly. Bamboo fiber has a bactericidal effect, which means it is resistant to microorganisms. The disadvantages are virtually none – except that over time, the fiber is caked and deformed. But you need to change the pillow regularly in any case, so it is one of the most optimal fillers.


Cotton threads are used as a filler. Such pillows have good air permeability, they are hypoallergenic. Usually cotton pillows are quite soft, but they quickly become deformed and stop supporting the neck sufficiently, and therefore they need to be changed often.


An excellent hypoallergenic material. Such pillows hold their shape well, are light, soft, but quite elastic. Well tolerate washing. Minus – the price. For the manufacture of silkworm cocoons are used, so the pillows are quite expensive.


Cheap and durable filler. Pillows made of sintepon are elastic, soft and light. In addition, sintepon does not cause allergies and is easy to wash. Its disadvantages are short life-span (even with proper care it is necessary to change it every one and a half to two years) and insufficient rigidity.


Typically used in anatomic and orthopedic pillows. Such pillows are hard, firm and well support the neck. Latex can be artificial and natural, but both materials are hypoallergenic.

Memory foam

Modern artificial material used in anatomical cushions. Hard enough but softer than latex. The pillow is smooth, without lumps and perfectly follows the contours of the head and neck. From the disadvantages – not too good ventilation. In addition such pillows are rather expensive, but they are definitely worth their money. And if you can afford it, choose pillows with this filling.

How often should you change your pillows?

It all depends on the filler, but in general, if your pillow is more than three years old, it’s definitely time to buy a new one.

Pillows made of latex last the longest – it is recommended to change them every three to four years. You should not sleep on feather and down pillows longer than two and a half years, and the same period is for pillows made of memory foam. Pillows with synthetic filling (polyester, artificial down) should be renewed maximum once every two years.

How to understand that the lifespan of your pillow has come to an end?

Here are some signs:

  • the filler has rolled up or gathered in lumps;
  • your pillow has stains on it that can’t be washed;
  • you feel tension or pain in your neck or shoulders in the morning;
  • you regularly wake up with a headache;
  • you constantly have to fluff up the pillow (we are talking about feather and down pillows), otherwise it is uncomfortable to lie on it;
  • if you fold the pillow in half, it stays in this position – normally, the pillow should straighten.

Can I sleep without a pillow at all?

There is no definite answer to this question. It all depends on the position in which you used to sleep. But in any case there is no serious scientific research about how sleeping without a pillow affects the spine.

Those who prefer to sleep on their stomachs can give up the pillow. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, when you sleep on your stomach, your spine is already in a not-so-natural position. But if you remove the pillow, you take some of the strain off your neck muscles.

In other cases, the pillow is still needed because it supports your spine: it should remain straight during sleep with a natural curve in the neck area. If you take the pillow away, your head will be tilted back, and your neck will stretch too much, and therefore it may start to hurt.

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