In some ways, the art of finding the right pillow has been lost. Consider a pillow as a wearable item, and we believe it will help. A pillow is used to stabilize your head, and support your neck. Like feet or waistline we all have different dimensions of head and neck. Because of this it is important to determine fit. Another consideration is the materials in the fill. Fill materials are many, from down (feathers) to polyester, to memory foam, to latex foam, to even things like buckwheat. Is that any different from different fabrics in clothes? Or materials in shoes? Perhaps the best way then to buy a pillow is somewhere at which you can "try it on."
Consider a department store that also sells mattresses, or even a mattress store. Why there? Because to try on a pillow you need to lay on it, which is hard to do in a store that doesn't have mattresses. Also, discount stores tend to sell on price alone, so anything a vendor can do to lessen the price, the more likely he will get shelf space. That means lesser quality fill materials, lesser quality cover fabrics. Lesser quality will not perform as long, or as well as higher quality materials.
So you are in the store, now what? Ask for samples that you can test out in the store. Find a mattress that is similar in feel and construction to the one at home. Now just as you would go in to a changing room or sit on a stool to try out shoes, lay on the pillow. To fit a pillow properly, the pillow should support your neck, and cushion your head. As you lay on the pillow, in your preferred sleep position, a good fit will allow your head and neck to be in a good posture position. If, for instance, you are a side sleeper, your head should not be cocked to the side, rather it should be in alignment with your spine. If there is too much or too little fill in the pillow, it will stretch your neck, and over 8 hours you will not feel comfortable. And it will cause neck pain in the long run.
That's where, now let's talk about fill material. There are three main materials used today: Down, Polyester, and Foam. All of these are good choices. All of them, if fit right will offer a good night's sleep. The fill material comes down to what feels best to you. So our advice is to try examples of all of them. Down is a very natural material where the structure provides good support. Polyester was originally used for those who were allergic to down, and are sometimes called down alternative. Both can be adjusted to provide support to the neck by moving the materials around. Foam comes in two basic forms: Memory and latex. These two have different feels and different support qualities. Latex will work more like down or polyester pillows to provide support to the neck. Memory foam reacts to body heat and weight to mold more automatically to the support you need. Latex and memory foam will also retain heat more than the other styles of pillow, which is important to consider.
The cover material wouldn't seem to be important, but in a way it is. The cover material should be as natural as possible. There are many good cottons, some wools, and even bamboo materials that are very good choices. These materials will help dissipate heat. Other man made materials sometimes will retain heat, which is not good in a pillow. So while it does not go toward support, it will go to the comfort of the pillow.
Last consider the size. The four main sizes of sleeping pillows are travel, standard, queen, and king sizes. Most people buy the pillow based on the size of their bed, so that it fills the area when the bed is made. Frankly, standard and queen will both fit either full size or queen beds, so choose the size that feels the best. King size pillows are much longer than standard, almost twice as long. Sometimes the standard size, or queen size are more comfortable to some people, if you have a king size bed, buy the standard size, but save the old pillow for when you make the bed, that way you get the best of both worlds.
We hope that this helps a little in your quest to find a great pillow! A great pillow can help you to....