Being in the market for a new pillow – especially one you’ve yet to identify – is an interesting position in which to find oneself. You know you’ve got pain, or that you haven’t been sleeping soundly, or just that you could be sleeping more comfortably, and you suspect your pillow has something to do with either the problem or the solution. After that, you’re pretty much on your own. You can browse brick-and-mortar stores, but it’s tough to measure comfort when you’re leaning your head on a pillow wrapped in plastic against a store display while standing up. We suggest an alternative approach to the pillow-shopping process – one that takes into account your favorite sleeping positions and involves genuinely trying out as many different pillows as possible.

Step 1: Pinpoint your Primary Position

There are a few variables to consider when choosing a new pillow. The materials it’s made of and filled with pay a major role but are rather easy to narrow down. Those aspects are a matter of personal preference. The shape and support of your ideal pillow, however, are intricately linked to the positions in which you sleep. Many people identify as either side, back, or stomach sleepers. If you do, matching the ideal pillow shape to your sleep style should be relatively easy.

• Back Sleepers should use a thinner pillow that supports the natural curvature of the spine, and that provides support for the head, neck, and shoulders.

• Side Sleepers need a supportive pillow that’s thick enough to keep the spine straight but not so thick that it causes the neck to bend out of healthy alignment.

• Stomach Sleepers will be most comfortable with a relatively flat pillow, or none at all. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, it’s a good idea to use another flat pillow under your pelvis to help keep your lower back naturally aligned.

• Hybrid Sleepers who switch between sleeping positions will be best served by multiple pillows. If you need to pick one, opt for a contoured pillow that features higher areas to support side sleep and lower areas for back or stomach sleep.

Step 2: Take a Test Drive…or 10

Compared to mattresses, pillows are relatively difficult to try out in a meaningful way. While your local mattress store will welcome you to spend a few hours lounging on their floor model beds, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a variety of pillows for testing. More importantly, the best way to test-drive mattresses is to bring your favorite pillow along for the ride so that variable doesn’t interfere with your decision-making process. So how does anyone test-drive pillows?

An Unconventional Approach

If you’re curious about a selection of pillows more diverse than can be found at the nearest department store, consider your next overnight excursion an opportunity. A growing array of hotels now offers pillow menus among their amenities. Before you book your room, find a place that provides a variety of pillow options. Doing so will give you the chance to check out everything from organic, buckwheat, and hypoallergenic pillows to the latest high-tech models that incorporate music, aromatherapy, white noise, and sleep tracking.

It’s worth the wait!

Laying your head on a pillow for one or more full nights is the best way to tell whether you can count on it for long-term comfort. Given the price of modern pillows, making the right choice will be well worth the time and money you invest in the research phase. The right pillow can also make a world of difference in your sleep quality and the way you feel throughout the day. If you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line pillow or would like the advice of a sleep expert, be sure to pay us a visit at A Goodnight Sleepstore. We’ll help you find the best pillow for your sleep style at the best price in the continental United States – guaranteed!

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