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How Do I Choose the Best Pillow?

How do I choose the right pillow
How do I choose the right pillow
Most pillows look similar

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the correct pillow.  After all, you do spend 1/3 of your life using them.  Below are some tips that can be applied as a good starting point when choosing a good, comfortable pillow.

Experts say comfort is your primary consideration, but it shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when buying pillows. You also have to think about neck support, potential allergens, and long-term durability.

Why is Choosing the Correct Pillow Important?

Pillows provide support to the head and neck while you are sleeping.  In addition to providing comfort, the right pillow should provide appropriate support for the neck and spine—alleviating or preventing any form of back and/or neck pain.

An incorrect pillow that does not provide the appropriate support in the right places can contribute to headaches, neck pain, shoulder or arm numbness, discomfort, snoring, sneezing, and wheezing (trouble breathing), which could lead to extra tossing and turning, which leads to lack of sleep. This has an effect on you both mentally and physically.

  • Mentally – Lack of sleep affects your concentration, judgement, memory, mood, and stress levels.
  • Physically – Lack of sleep can contribute to soreness and pain, slow the healing process, prolong illness, and lead to immune system breakdown, weight gain, fatigue, and a variety of other health issues.

What is Inside this Pillow?

From soft to firm pillows, the type of fill for your pillow is really a personal choice. Most pillows look similar.  When looking inside the pillow you will find a variety of fillings, including soft down and feathers or synthetic down; latex foam; high-tech gel and memory foam. All pillow types have their pluses and minuses. Below you will find different pillow explanations that will help you choose the best pillow for your sleep needs. It’s important to discover how comfortable the right pillow can be.

Down Pillows
Down pillows are made from duck and goose feathers.  Down clusters are made up of light, fluffy filaments that expand and intertwine to form air pockets. These clusters trap air to create nature’s most effective insulator. That’s what makes down so light and fluffy.

A lot of companies will rinse their down multiple times to remove dust and allergens that cause allergic reactions.

Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam pillows are comprised of dense foam that reverts back to its original shape after sleep and typically offer very good neck support. These are popular because they reduce pressure points by continuously molding and adjusting to the shape of your body as you move throughout the night. Memory foam pillows come in various shapes, including a popular contoured S-shape, which is meant to support the neck.

When choosing a memory foam pillow, it’s important that you choose a higher quality brand as many of the cheaper memory foam pillows come with lower density foam and inexpensive components.

Latex Pillows
Latex pillows conform to your head and neck for comfort and support. Latex itself has a resilient feel. Latex pillows generally come in two forms: a solid core for a bouncy, solid feel, or a shredded and/or granulated filling for a down like feel that doesn’t compact over time. Latex pillows are hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, mildew proof, and dust mite resistant.

Gel Pillows 
If you like a memory foam pillow and you are a warm sleeper who experiences overheating at night, then a gel pillow would be a great choice. Gel pillows are popular because along with conforming comfort, gel pillows help capture and dissipate heat creating a cooler pillow. You can find gel pillows in various shapes and sizes including contour s-shape pillow for back sleepers and L-shape for side sleepers. Sleep City carries the best gel pillows made with the best quality materials from the best brands in the market including Technogel and Malouf.

Specialty Pillows
Specialty pillows include all other pillows that don’t fit the “normal” category.

  • Aromatherapy Pillows
  • Wedge Pillows
  • Wrap Around Pillows
  • Shape Pillows

Why Does my Sleeping Position Matter When Choosing a Pillow?

Everyone has their own sleeping position. There are side sleepers and back sleepers as well as stomach sleepers.  The best thing a pillow can do for you is keep your head and neck in a natural position during sleep (“natural position” means keeping your spine the same as if you are standing). To find the most appropriate pillow for your body type, you should become aware of your sleeping habits. Keep in mind that you may start sleeping in one position and end up in another.

I Sleep on my Back, now What?
Back sleepers need thinner pillows so their head isn’t thrown too far forward. Look for a pillow with extra loft in the bottom third of the pillow to cradle your neck. If you sleep on your back, you will want to consider a medium or thin pillow. The proper height for the pillow depends on your body build. Sleep experts usually recommend adding an extra pillow underneath your knees when you sleep on your back to further help align and support the natural curvature of your upper spine, which in turn provides support under your head, neck, and shoulders. A pillow that is of medium firmness would probably be the correct choice.

I Sleep on my Side, Now What?
Side sleepers need a firmer pillow to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. If you sleep on your side, then you need something to support your head and neck correctly while you sleep.  This will prevent a kink or “crick” in the neck, so to speak.  Ideally you will be looking for a medium density pillow so your spine maintains a straight, horizontal line. A firmer pillow would probably be the correct choice.

I Sleep on my Stomach, Now What? 

Stomach sleepers need a thin, almost flat pillow. Some may not even need a pillow for the head but might consider tucking one under the stomach to avoid lower back pain and support the natural curvature of the spine.  Stomach sleepers should be cautious of higher profile pillows as that could increase the chance of placing their spine into very unnatural positions and causing neck or back pain.  A thinner type of pillow would probably be the correct choice.

I Move Around a lot While I’m Sleeping, Now What?
Moving around or tossing and turning in your sleep creates a need for a good all-around pillow type.  This means not too dense or thick for most individuals.  You’re looking for a pillow that provides proper support for the average build in all positions.  Some active sleepers choose a half and half pillow.  That is half memory foam on one side and latex foam on the other.

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the appropriate pillow.  The above information is a great starting point when choosing a good, comfortable pillow. Below is coupon code for our readers and some of our favorite pillows.


[box type=”info” size=”large” title=”Enter ‘PILLOW25’ & Save 25% On Any Pillow”]


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Bed Basics: Compare mattress upholstery (part 1 of 2)

Sleep City comfort layer foam
Sleep City comfort layer foam
Mattress foam comfort layer.

As we mentioned in a previous post, when you compare innerspring mattresses, you’re really looking at three basic components: coils, upholstery, and foundation. Upholstery refers to both the fabric covering the mattress and the layers of foam and cushioning inside the mattress. We’ll start by taking a look at the inside layers, which include insulator, support, and comfort layers.

An insulator layer in a mattress is the least glamorous position. The goal of the insulator layer is to separate the comfort foams from the springs. Usually a mesh style fabric covers the coils, possibly with another layer of cotton or batting on top of that. These layers will also help keep the comfort foams from shifting over the life of the mattress.

Support layers help determine the feel to the mattress. Is it firm to the touch, plush on top of firm, or plush all the way through? Support layers can be made of the same material as comfort layers but may be thicker or rated for different densities.

Which brings us to everyone’s favorite part: the squishy, resilient, and sleep-inducing materials that make up the comfort layers. The latest trends in mattress construction involve memory foam, latex foam, and a gel layer. But poly-urethane or visco-elastic foam are also common. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Sleep City mattress comfort
Memory foam conforms to shape based on heat and weight.

Memory Foam

Great for cushioning, cradling, and pressure relief. Probably best as a thinner layer over the top of a firmer support layer. Higher density foam means higher quality, so look for 5.0 lbs per cubic foot or more. The “sink” factor can make it feel more difficult to change positions. First few generations didn’t breathe as well as other materials, so may sleep warmer than other materials. (Simmons created AirCool Memory Foam in the Beautyrest Black mattresses to combat this issue.)

Latex Foam

Molds well to the body. Both supportive and cushioning, so offers great pressure relief. Durable and resilient. Can find in both a denser, firmer style (Dunlop) and a springier style (Talalay). Most breathable type of foam, so regulates temperatures better than other foam options. More expensive than other foam options.

Polyurethane Foam

Must be High Resilience 2.5 lbs per cubic foot (HR) polyfoam to be durable enough as a comfort foam layer. Highest quality polyfoam performs similarly to latex but isn’t very common. Not as durable as memory or latex foams. Best used as a support layer rather than a direct comfort layer.

gel touch layer
The Simmons TruEnergy mattress features a top GelTouch comfort layer.

Gel Layer

New mattress technology, typically found in higher-end models. Great pressure relief, contours closely to the body while also providing support for areas that don’t settle as heavily on the mattress. Works well with a firmer support layer. Especially good for people who sleep warm; dissipates heat and regulates temperature very well. (Simmons’ Beautyrest TruEnergy mattresses have a GelTouch layer that conforms very well to the body shape and keeps you cool throughout the night.)

Natural Fiber

Can include wool, cotton, and hemp. Best for people who sleep in a single position as they need a “break-in” time and don’t adjust as well to position change as foam layers. Extremely durable. Regulate sleeping temperature very well due to natural breathability.

Many innerspring mattresses offer a combination of layer materials, with a focus on one in particular. When you compare mattress upholstery layers, take into account how you sleep. If you move around a lot, memory foam and natural fiber may not be for you. If you sleep hot, the gel layer may be a lifesaver. If you have questions, call our trained sales staff. They’ll be happy to explain the differences in comfort layers from model to model.

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Have You Seen the Dr. Scholl’s™ Technogel® Pillows? These Things are COOL!

Dr. Scholls Technogel Pillow
Dr. Scholls Technogel Pillow
A combination of technology and comfort. The Dr. Scholls Technogel Pillow

When I think of Dr. Scholl’s, I immediately think of insoles and foot pads.  I had in no way connected Dr. Scholl’s™ with pillows!  In an exciting partnership with Technogel®, Dr. Scholl’s ™ has introduced a superior pillow collection with a surprising cooling effect that gives individuals a supportive level of comfort that doesn’t heat up.

“These pillows are fantastic!  I have the anatomic model and my neck feels wonderful,” says Crystal from Montana.

Made by the collaboration of two comfort brands which share a vision to provide real innovation in comfort related products: Technogel® and Dr. Scholl’s™.

A Dr. Scholl’s™ Technogel® pillow is made with a unique “soft solid” material that joins together the 3D deformation of a fluid and the memory shape of a solid. It’s a completely non-toxic and stable polyurethane substance (made without using oils or plasticizers), first developed for the medical field and now used in a wide range of applications.


Dr. Scholls Technogel Pillow
Dr. Scholls Technogel Pillow provides a comfortable cool sleep surface

This pillow lineup encompasses all that a pillow should be.  Combined with memory foam, the Technogel® layer provides individual comfort and support.  The Technogel’s® thermal regulating technology dissipates heat away from the user, providing a gentle cooling effect.

This pillow is designed to maintain the ideal sleeping temperature and provide excellent ergonomic support, and it delivers.

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Our Sleep City Blog

Sleep City
Sleep City
At Sleep City we are committed to improving your sleep

Yes, we are in the business of selling fluffy white boxes.  We know that as children we all wanted to go to the mattress store and jump from bed to bed doing cartwheels and back flips.  Just once we wanted to sneak in at night and bounce all over the store.  This blog is devoted to beds and sleep.  We understand that the “fluffy white box” is the most used piece of furniture in your home; it is where you spend 1/3 of your entire life.  Our goal is to keep you informed, surprise you, and hopefully inspire you to do a little research when shopping for a mattress.

We want you to have a good night’s sleep.  We want you to be informed about the latest technological advancements in the mattress industry.  We want to expose you to the interesting history of beds and pillows.  At Sleep City, we recognize that sleep is an important piece for overall health and wellness.  However, we don’t want to take it too seriously…

I don’t mean to say we will only talk about monkeys jumping on the bed (insert nursery rhyme here).  The goal of our blog is to provide you research, data, and interesting facts (Ancient Egyptians used pillows made of stone, who knew, right?).  We will provide you a place where you can learn about sleep and all the products designed to help you sleep.

We’ll discuss foam, gel, inner springs, and coil counts.  What exactly does the acronym ILD stand for?

We are biased.  We sell specific products.  Beautyrest Black, TruEnergy, Comforpedic, Comforpedic Loft, and Tempur-Pedic. We’ll provide a lot of insight and in-depth information regarding these products.  That doesn’t mean we won’t explore other brands, but we want to be upfront about the brands we sell.

Yes, we are in the business of selling fluffy white boxes.  The mattress industry is multifaceted and confusing at best.  This blog will hopefully provide some answers and have some fun while doing so.