How To Choose The Right Pillow

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If your pillow wears out, or you realise that you’re not having such a good night’s sleep anymore, or you’re waking up with an aching neck or shoulders… You’re probably going to be in search of a new one! The difficulty is that the overwhelming choices available is enough to give you a headache. Which one should I choose? Which is the right pillow for me? 

We’re not a fan of finding the right pillow through coincidence. We’re even less of a fan of buying a pillow that’s too high, then flattening it down through forcefully sleeping on it over the next few months, OR buying one that’s too low and having to layer more pillows on it. That just means that it wasn’t the right pillow in the first place.

Here is a method that is widely used for providing a guide on the best pillow height for you, that many people don’t know of! 


4 Steps to Confirm the Right Pillow Height

4 Steps to Confirm the Right Pillow Height
1. Take out four towels, and fold them up into a square. Stack them up on top of each other, like the picture above.
illustration of pillow too high
2. Lie down on the stacked pillows, as if they were a pillow. If your head is being pushed too far forward, that means that it’s too high for you. Remove one layer, or one entire towel, and try again. Keep removing the layers or towels until you find the most comfortable height for your head.
illustration of good pillow height - sleep on back
3. Once you find the most comfortable height that supports your head and neck, measure how high that stack is with a measuring tape! Record that measurement down. This is your “Supine Sleeping Measurement”.

Tip: How to know if it’s the right height is when you don’t feel your head tilting forward (chin wants to touch your chest), or tilting backwards (chin tilts towards the ceiling).
illustration of good pillow height - sleep sideways
4. Make sure that after you measure the height of the towels while lying down on your back, you do the same while lying on your sides. Repeat Steps 1-3 again, but this time while you lie on your side. This is because we don’t only remain in one position at night, and we need to make sure that the pillows we choose can support all our sleeping positions. This is your “Side Sleeping Measurement”.

Tip: A good side-height is when the towels completely support your head and neck, and touches the top of your shoulder. Your shoulders shouldn’t be crushed up towards your ears, and your head should be level with the rest of your body (not sinking down, or pushed up to the ceiling).


Remember The Measurements When Going Shopping

Usually the average height of the pillow for those who sleep on their backs is about 4-6 inches. For those who sleep on their sides, it is about 4-7 inches, depending on how broad your shoulders are. That is why measuring your Supine Sleeping Measurement and Side Sleeping Measurement is important! They might be slightly different from each other. 

When you go to the stores looking for a pillow, bring those two measurements with you. As you try out placing your head on the pillows in different positions (on your back and on your side), try to get a pillow height that most closely replicates the measurements you have. Pillows that are too soft may sink down too much, and pillows that are too hard may not be able to fit both your back and side sleeping positions.

This towel test is one of the most accurate ways to determine your measurements without having to go through the hassle of buying and returning pillows, or accumulating too many unused pillows in your house!

If you’ve changed pillows recently and don’t think that it is what’s bothering your neck, shoulders, or back while sleeping, drop us a text or call and one of our clinicians would be happy to discuss it with you – a spinal adjustment or a movement analysis may just be what you need instead!