A bed is not a bed without a pillow – at least for most people it is part of the bedding, like the air you breathe. In addition to the “comfort factor”, the most important requirement of a pillow is that it optimally supports the neck area while sleeping. There is a large selection of pillows made of different materials with different fillings in various variants in stores. Often too big for the layperson to reliably find the pillow that enables the most comfortable and ergonomically optimal lying position.
Find out now about the most important factors to consider when choosing and purchasing a pillow.
Which pillow shape for which sleeping position?
The task of a pillow is to fill the space between the mattress and the head / neck in such a way that the cervical spine does not bend and the head is neither tilted up nor down when lying down. Depending on the sleeping position, both the shape of the cavity to be compensated between the mattress and the head area and the height of the support required vary. A pillow should therefore be chosen so that it supports you perfectly in the sleeping position in which you lie most of the time.
Sleeping positions and the right pillow shapes
When lying on your side, the distance between the mattress and the head area is greatest. So that the shoulder can sink into the mattress, the pillow must not reach under the shoulder, but only support the head and neck. A supportive pillow measuring 40 × 80 cm or 40 × 60 cm is therefore recommended as a pillow size. Depending on your body contour (wide or narrow shoulders), the required height can vary – you should try lying on the pillow and have a second person check whether your spine is in a straight line and your shoulder axis is at right angles to the mattress. If your neck area is significantly narrower in relation to the width of your head, you will be most comfortable on an ergonomically shaped neck support pillow, otherwise soapy pillows are also recommended.
If you usually lie on your back, you should be careful not to choose your pillow too high. A relatively flat pillow is usually sufficient to keep your head horizontal – it should never be tilted upwards. In this sleeping position, the main task of the pillow is to correctly support the lordosis in the cervical area, so it is best to lie on a flat neck support pillow that supports the cervical vertebrae through an ergonomic elevation in the lower pillow area and does not reach below the shoulder area. If you have a pronounced hunchback, you may need a slightly higher pillow to be able to lie comfortably.
In the prone position, which is not recommended, no pillow is actually required, as an increase in the head area inevitably leads to overstretching of the neck and bending of the spine in the direction of the hollow back. The cervical vertebrae are also twisted a lot when using a pillow. If you cannot sleep without a pillow, you should only use a very flat pillow, into which you do not sink into if possible – this is the only way to breathe without having to turn your head even harder. For this purpose, some manufacturers offer specially shaped pillows for stomach sleepers that have a hollow in the nose and mouth area.
How do you clean pillows?
Loose-filled pillows should be fluffed regularly to maintain fluffiness and adaptability. In the case of washable fillings, it is advisable to wash the entire pillow approx. Every six months; the same applies to washable neck support pillow covers with a foam core. If the user sweats heavily or is allergic to house dust, more frequent cleaning may be appropriate.
When should I buy a new pillow?
If the fill power decreases, hollows are visible in the core or the foam becomes brittle, it is time to buy a new pillow. For reasons of hygiene, a non-washable pillow should be replaced after two years at the latest. Cushions with a foam core last an average of about five years. Since loose fillings suffer from material fatigue a little more quickly (material is “compressed”) and thus lose their bulk and support, it can make sense to replace the pillow after about three years or at least have it refilled.