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There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep.  That feeling of waking up pleasantly rested, not too hot and not too cold, supported by a comfy pillow and mattress is just bliss.  So it is pretty annoying when an uncomfortable pillow stops you sleeping.

how to choose a pillow

Choosing a pillow is very personal.  Your best bet is to try lots of different ones before deciding which is your favourite.  Luckily there are a few guidelines to narrow down the options.

For side sleepers try a larger, fairly firm pillow.  You want to be able to lay on your side with your neck fairly straight, so it’s not leaning down towards your mattress or up towards the ceiling.  The broader your shoulders, the larger the pillow.

For back sleepers a flatter pillow is better.  Your head should feel supported but the pillow shouldn’t lift your head up very much.  Ideally your neck remains quite straight.

If you are a larger build  go for a firmer pillow.  Your head and neck may be heavier so need more support.

If you are a lighter build a softer pillow will probably be ok.

If you suspect your pillow is too soft try putting folded towel underneath it to make it firmer.  Sleep on it for a few nights and see if you like it.

You may also like to consider the pillow’s contents; is it hypoallergenic, is it washable?


I often find that supple, healthy necks are feel comfortable in many situations, and stiff neck joints and muscles cause discomfort even with very good pillows.

If you’re having difficulty finding a comfy pillow you may have some irritated muscles or joints in your neck or upper back.  It would probably be worth seeing an osteopath or similar therapist who can help improve your flexibility.