What To Look For In A Pillow—No Matter How You Sleep

Whether you sleep on your back or side, run hot or cold, there’s a pillow for you.
A white pillow on a blue background (Photo: iStock)

If there’s a single rule that Ottawa sleep and fatigue specialist Clinton Marquardt wants you to remember, it’s this: The best pillow for you is the one you like best. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the pursuit of a perfect pillow, there are a few characteristics that can help you track down the ideal one to match your unique sleeping habits.

Here’s how to pick a pillow depending on how you hit the hay.


For side sleepers

An illustration of a B-shaped pillow for side sleepers (Illustration: Carmen Jabier)

Opt for a pillow with a higher loft (one that maintains its thickness when you rest on it). Teardrop-shaped pillows, which dip at the centre and get thicker toward the bottom edge, help keep the spine and neck aligned.

For back sleepers

An illustration of a flat pillow, best for back sleepers (Illustration: Carmen Jabier)

“Look for a pillow that is thinner,” advises Dan McKinley of Sleep Country. Memory foam pillows with a lower loft allow the head to nestle better, keeping the airways open and shoulders relaxed. Better breathing, better sleep

For hot sleepers

An illustration of a deconstructed pillow, for hot sleepers (Illustration: Carmen Jabier)

Getting night sweats? Grab a pillowcase with temperature-regulating textiles, such as light- weight cotton or silk. Water-filled pillows, which pull heat away from the body, are another way to keep your head cool through the night.

For warmth seekers

An illustrated of a wool pillow, best for warm sleepers (Illustration: Carmen Jabier)

While thick polar fleece pillows may feel especially comfortable in the cooler months, Marquardt cautions against materials that retain heat. “It’s easier to sleep when the blood in your brain is a little cooler,” he explains.


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