How to Choose Your Pillow in 5 Steps

Posted on 30 March 2022 

After spending 26 hours comparing 33 products in our editorial office, here are the steps to follow to choose a pillow in the best way possible.


Step 1: Shape, square or rectangular


  • A square pillow for resting in a sitting position
  • A rectangular pillow for sleeping in a lying position
  • A square pillow to sleep on if you are very tall
  • An ergonomic pillow if you move very much during sleep

This first point may seem insignificant, but the shape of your pillow is of great importance.

  • A square pillow is suitable for moments of seated rest (for reading or watching TV, for example), as it supports both the upper body and the head. It may also be suitable for sleeping as long as you are not too tall, as it will inevitably take up more space at the top of the bed.
  • The rectangular pillow is more advisable when lying in bed, as it adapts better to the size of your head. In addition, its width allows you to change sides during the night without falling on the mattress.
  • Ergonomic pillows have the particularity of being curved at the sides and hollow in the middle. While this may be suitable for people who sleep on their backs, this shape is binding for those who tend to move around a lot in bed during the night.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you from having several types of pillows on your bed (especially for decorative effect) and keeping the ones you don’t need for bedtime.


Step 2: Firmness, to be chosen according to your sleeping posture


  • Favour medium firmness if you regularly change sleeping position
  • A pillow too soft if you sleep on your back or side
  • A pillow too firm if you sleep face down.

The firmness of the pillow depends essentially on your sleeping position. In fact, it is essential that your spine is well aligned with your head, so as not to wake up with pain in the back of your neck.

  • If you sleep on your side, the pillow should be firm to very firm.
  • If you sleep on your back, you can afford medium firmness. It is also the best compromise if you change position regularly during the night.
  • When sleeping on the stomach, it is important that the pillow is soft enough not to put too much pressure on the spine.


Step 3: Filling, in relation to many other criteria


  • A feather pillow if you sleep on your stomach or back
  • A latex pillow if you sleep on your side and sweat a lot
  • Invest in a memory foam pillow, unless you sleep exclusively on your back
  • Opt for a polyester pillow only because of its price, as its overall quality and lifespan is more limited

As with duvets and mattresses, the choice of filling is essential to ensure a good night’s sleep, as it influences many other parameters: ventilation, maintenance, pillow life, etc.

  • Polyester infill is the most common and cheapest. In general, it is a good compromise in terms of maintenance, as they are generally available in different thicknesses. On the other hand, its ventilation is not so good, so the pillow must be washed regularly, with the risk of dust mites and dust accumulation. Their lifespan is also limited.
  • Feather filling is an interesting option for belly sleepers because it is the most flexible filling. It offers adequate ventilation and has a longer lifespan. This type of pillow should be washed regularly to remove dust that could be stored.
  • Latex (preferably natural latex), on the other hand, is the firmest material and provides excellent support for people who sleep on their backs or sides. Its micro-perforations ensure good ventilation. This type of pillow can be stored for several years, but the purchase price is usually high.
  • Surprisingly, memory foam offers less ventilation, is more difficult to maintain and is not suitable for those who move around a lot while sleeping.
  • Traditional foam can be an alternative for small budgets, with a firmness adapted to back sleepers.


Step 4: Cover, a guarantee of resistance and a dust barrier


  • Prioritise natural materials over synthetics
  • A minimum of cotton percale fabric (+ 80 threads/cm²)
  • Choosing low quality synthetic materials that will impact the durability and breathability of the pillow

This is not the simplest criterion, as manufacturers do not provide much information. However, the quality of the cover is important in terms of the pillow’s strength and durability, but also because it protects the filling from dust and dust mites.

  • Choose cotton, tencel and bamboo rather than synthetic materials, as they are more breathable. Polyester, on the other hand, has the advantage of being cheaper and durable enough.
  • In any case, favour hypoallergenic, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial components, but also Oeko-Tex certifications.
  • The density of the fabric also has an impact: the tighter the fabric, the higher the number of threads per cm² (and therefore the higher the quality).


Step 5: Maintenance, important to preserve the qualities of the pillow


  • Regularly air your pillow
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's washing instructions
  • Change the covers less than twice a month

Throughout the night, the pillow is subjected to many harsh tests (sweat, saliva, other body fluids…), so it is important to keep it well maintained to avoid the proliferation of bacteria/mites and dust accumulation, but also to prolong its life span.

  • The first thing to do is to shake and air the pillow frequently.
  • Not all fillings are washed in the same way: polyester and down are easily machine washable (at a reasonable temperature), but latex and memory foam are not.
  • A down pillow will preserve its puffiness better if you add one or two tennis balls to the washing machine drum. This will prevent the feathers from clumping due to moisture.
  • Equipping the pillow with a pillow protector and a pillowcase will preserve it by creating an additional barrier. These should be changed regularly (every one to two weeks depending on the frequency of your showers).



After all, the most important criterion when choosing your pillow is still your sleeping position. From there, you will be able to identify the materials and firmness that best suit your sleeping position.

In any case, given that the lifespan of a pillow is 3 to 5 years, we feel it is important not to neglect quality for the sake of budget, as you will spend hundreds and hundreds of hours with it.

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