A pillow might look like a simple thing to buy. But getting the right one for you or your family can be tricky. You need to choose the right pillow to rest your head as you’ll be spending almost one-third of your day and night in bed sleeping.
When was the last time you thought about your bed pillows?
If it’s been a long time, you’re not alone. Almost 90% of people that have a sleeping problem focus primarily on making changes to their mattresses. There is a good reason why people care so much about their mattresses. It’s because mattresses are one of the crucial financial investments an individual makes for comfortable sleeping. But when we look at sleep quality, pillows are as important as your mattress.
Ever thought about where the phenomenon of the pillow came from? Before looking at the importance of pillows and tips to choosing the right pillows, let’s take a look at the history and science behind pillows.
The History of Pillows
According to historical documents, the history of pillow dates to around 7,000 BC in Ancient Mesopotamia. Pillows at that time were made of stone and it was not used for comfort purpose like how we are using them today. The main function of pillows in ancient civilization was to prevent insects from crawling into mouths, noses, and ears. The price of stone was high, and these pillows were used only by the wealthy community. For thousands of years, stone pillows were the norm.
However, in ancient Egypt, pillows were made from various hard materials that include stone, wood, marble, ivory, and ceramic. The purpose of the pillow was slightly different from the ancient Mesopotamia civilization. People in Ancient Egypt believed that the head of a person is precious as it was the seat of spiritual life and must be adored.
In another context, pillows were used for religious purposes where the images of gods were carved on the pillows and placed under the heads of the deceased to keep away the bad spirits.
During the ancient Chinese civilization, materials like bamboo, bronze, porcelain, and jade were used to make pillows. And these pillows are often decorated with pictures of animals, humans, and plants. There was a strong belief among people that the materials used to make the pillows could provide health benefits for the person using them.
Although Chinese people could make soft pillows, they believed that soft pillows will steal energy from the body while sleeping. Moreover, they also believed that pillows made of jade offer great health benefits. The Chinese civilization has acknowledged and supported the importance of pillows and the health benefits it offers.
Greeks and Romans got rid of hard pillows and started using soft pillows that were made from materials such as cotton, reeds, or straw. The wealthy people used pillows made of soft down or feathers. These are the types of pillows that we are using today.
During the European Middle Ages, soft pillows were used by wealthy people as it shows the status symbol. Pillows became a norm by the 16th century and the fillings were regularly changed,
In the 19th century, pillows became a common item in every home. Pillows became more affordable as they were produced in mass with the latest technologies.
Today, there are endless types of pillows in the market. The advancement in technology has created a variety of choices for people to choose from. These evolutions in pillows started from initial stone pillows which were primarily used to protect people from insects.
Just imagine sleeping a full night without a pillow.
Now that you know the history of pillows, let’s move on to the importance of pillows for healthy sleep.
The Importance of Good Pillows
Many medical research studies show that the most important factor for living a healthy life is getting the optimum amount of quality sleep. For a person to get quality sleep, having a quality pillow plays a vital role.
There are two crucial reasons why we should use a pillow to rest our heads when sleeping.
- A pillow provides comfort
- A pillow provides support to the sleeper’s neck and upper back
When you’re looking for a pillow it is important to consider these two factors as will greatly impact the quality of your sleep. As your body is resting, providing enough support for your neck and upper back is essential. This support is mainly focused on the natural curves of the human spine.
With the right pillow, you’ll be having correct support for your head and neck which helps with the alignment of spinal areas. If you choose to sleep without a pillow, it can negatively affect your sleep and lead to issues related to joints and muscles.
Choosing the right pillow not only helps in improving the quality of your sleep it can also help you avoid neck and back related problems.
So, what you should know before buying a pillow?
How to Choose the Right Bed Pillow?
There are hundreds to thousands of choices on the market when you shop for pillows. But you need to be careful in choosing the ones that suit you the most. In this section, we will explore the factors to consider when choosing a pillow, so let’s do some pillow talk.
Malaysian Pillow Guide
Choosing a pillow is an individual process. When we talk about selecting the right pillow, there is no one-fit solution. You need to determine and analyze the individual criteria of a pillow and use your instinct to choose the most comfortable and appropriate one.
Choose the right size of bed pillow
The size of the bed pillow that you pick depends on the size of your mattress and how you sleep. For most people, a standard size pillow is suitable enough. Even some feel that the standard pillow size to be large. If you think a larger pillow provides you with more comfort, that’s completely fine. But you need to make sure to keep your sleep posture aligned. The thickness or thinness of the pillow should help you provide comfort and allow you to sleep with your head, neck, and shoulders perfectly aligned with your spine. Other than that, you need to make sure the pillow cover fits the pillow properly. You should avoid stuffing large pillows in undersized covers or put your standard size pillow in a large pillowcase. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, and make sure you’re comfortable with the pillow size.
Decide on Your Pillow Budget
Like everything you purchase, pillows come at various prices (low to high). However, you get what you pay for. You can buy a pillow for as little as RM20. But high-quality pillows can cost you up to RM300 or more depending on the quality and size. Even if you have a limited budget, you should be willing to spend on pillows that can offer you comfort and quality sleep. You don’t want to risk your healthy life and quality sleep by purchasing low-quality, cheap pillows.
Choose a pillow that suits your sleeping position
Sleeping position matters when you’re shopping for a pillow. There are many guides out there that provide general guidelines that match sleeping position with pillow type. But you can’t blindly follow these guidelines because most of us often switch sleeping positions. For example, you might sleep on your back when you lay down on your bed and spend some time sleeping on the side. So, it’s best to choose a pillow that works best for all your sleeping positions.
If you still want to look at the guideline for different sleeping positions, here are some:
- Stomach sleepers: These types of sleepers need a soft pillow. There is no need to have a pillow underneath their head. However, a soft pillow under their stomach and pelvis can help in preventing back pain.
- Side sleepers: These sleepers need a thicker and firmer pillow (to keep their ears aligned with their shoulders).
- Back sleepers: Flat pillows are well suited for back sleepers as it helps to keep the head and neck aligned. If you’re having back pain while sleeping on your back, you might need an additional pillow that provides support and comfort.
If you’re not sure which type of pillows suits you the most, you might want to try out several different types and choose the one that provides the best comfort.
Decide on The Pillow Fill/Stuffing You Prefer
Once you’ve made your mind about the size, budget, and pillow type, the next thing to decide is what type of pillow fill you prefer.
These are the most common pillow fills:
One of the softest and fluffiest layers of the feather is called down. It is one of the most ideal fillings for pillows. They are also used as fillings for mattresses, toppers, and different kinds of bedding items. There are two types of down in the market where one is natural, and another is synthetic. And the natural ones are more durable. It’s hard to find a 100% down pillow in the market. The best down pillows are the ones with at least 75% down.
- They are extremely comfortable due to the lightweight of down.
- The pillows are highly durable with a lifespan of a minimum of 15 years if the pillows are treated carefully.
- One of the most expensive pillow types in the market. It’s not the best option for everyone.
If you have budget concerns and looking for an option that can provide you comfortable sleeping experience, feather pillows are affordable and readily available in the market. But it is not the best option in the market.
Pillows stuffed with feathers often wear off too fast and leaves the pillow degraded or saggy. Moreover, once the feathers start to pop out from the pillow, it can be a huge mess.
However, some quality feather pillows in the market include a small percentage of down to increase the durability. But when compared to down pillows it remains the least durable.
- They are lightweight like down stuffed pillows
- The pillows are affordable
- Feather pillows are hard to clear and maintain which results in an unpleasant smell after few years of use. They are not durable and easily wear off within few years.
Polyester Fiberfill or commonly known as poly-fil is an alternative to a down filling. Some enthusiastic pillow lovers who like down stuffing are vegans and they are more comfortable buying poly-fil pillows as an alternative. Moreover, poly-fil pillows are more affordable and easily adjustable. As the pillows are made from synthetic material, they can’t be washed. But you can easily clean with other options. With high-maintenance requirements, the quality of the pillow decays quickly and easily lose its shape.
- The pillow filling offers great value for the price and suitable for vegans
- One of the affordable options available in the market.
- Being a cheaper option in the market, poly-fil pillows wears off fast.
- It can lose its original shape and lose its firmness. This can lead to back pain for side sleepers.
One of the most used filling/stuffing for pillows. Memory foam comes in two different shapes; block or shredded. The block memory form is usually wrapped with pillowcases and shipped out in the market as a final product. The shredded memory foam has an adjustable feature and offers a comfortable experience for the users.
The technology used in manufacturing memory foam pillows allows them to conform to the shape of your head and makes you feel comfortable. This offers great sleeping pleasure for all types of sleeping positions.
However, memory foam filling often causes an unpleasant odor with is associate with the manufacturing process.
- Offers great comfort
- Contours to the shape of your head and suitable for all types of sleeping positions
- Great support for the head, neck, and back
- Releases unpleasant odor from the manufacturing process that involves off-gassing of the volatile materials.
- Can heat up easily and cause sweating
If you’re looking for a 100% natural and organic pillow, pillows with cotton filling should be your ideal choice. Moreover, it is suitable for vegans and environmentally conscious enthusiasts.
Sometimes cotton is added to shredded memory form and polyester pillows to add contouring features. It’s quite comfortable to sleep with cotton pillows. Cotton is known for its hypoallergenic tendency where you don’t have to worry about dust mites, bacteria, and molds.
It’s hard to see cotton pillows as stand-alone. It comes in a bundle with other bedding items like mattresses.
- Natural and organic
- Offers great comfort
- Good for people with allergies
- One of the best eco-friendly options for a pillow filling
- The cotton filling tends to lump together and cause the pillow to sink in
- Need frequent filling replacement
Kapok or Ceiba Pendandra is a tropical tree widely found in Mexico. Although they are used for a variety of things, you can often find them in pillows. Kapok is similar to cotton stuffing.
Kapok pillows stand out as a good alternative to down stuffing. Moreover, it’s suitable for those who are looking for organic and natural pillows. Like cotton, kapok is hypoallergenic.
They are good for all types of sleepers with their soft and plushy sleeping surface. However, kapok material is flammable. You don’t want to keep it near to the fire or places with extreme heat.
- Natural and organic
- Offers great sleeping comfort like cotton pillows
- Kapok pillows are flammable
- Pillows stuffed with kapok is not moldable and hard to keep in their original shape
If you want to explore more filling/stuffing of pillows, you can read the following resources:
Always remember that there are no options that can fit all you need. When picking the right pillow filling, you need to completely understand your needs and how you can benefit from them.
How to Shop for Pillows in Malaysia?
Whether you’re visiting a store or making an online order, once you grab the pillow in your hands, make sure to do the following:
Check the cover
Pillows with well-made covers last longer. You need to check whether the cover has need stitches, straight seams, and piping. This will reduce wear on the edges of the pillow. Some pillows come with zippers which makes it easier for you to adjust the stuffing/filling and clean the cover.
Most pillows come with the label “firm”. Some even have labels that indicate that it is specifically for back or side sleepers. It may or may not be the right pillow for you. You just got to test it out. Do your firmness test. If you’re visiting a physical store, place the pillow on a flat surface and compress it with your palm. Try compressing it to at least half of its original thickness. The firmness of the pillow depends on the amount of pressure you need to put. If you’ve ordered your pillow online, do the same test at home. You can also try it out on your bed.
Fluff the pillow
If a pillow has a single piece of foam (memory foam), it can easily lose its shape and cause an uncomfortable sleeping experience. After performing a squeeze test with the pillow of your choice, fluff it to see whether it returns to its original shape. Quality ones often return to their original shape and thickness.
Most high-quality pillows allow air to flow through. However, the denser the pillow, the less breathable it is. If you sleep in your stomach, you need to make sure to look for pillows with filling/stuffing that allow air to circulate through. Some of the pillow fillings that allow air to flow through include, feathers, polyesters, and foam chunks.
Check return policies and trial periods
There are very few pillow manufacturers or retailers that offer returns or trial periods. Comfort Co, for instance, offers a 30 nights risk-free trial. Whether you’re purchasing from a retail store or online marketplace, make sure to understand their policy before purchasing.
Well, there are thousands of pillow brands out there. And it’s a good thing because you can choose the right pillow that suits your need from these oceans of choices. And the best part is that you know what to look for. You just need to remember that having quality sleep is important to lead a happy and healthy life for years to come.
Comfort Co is always here to guide you to make the right choice. If you haven’t check out Comfort Co pillows and bedding items, check them out here: