Lifetimes: Rest Assured

The right pillow makes all the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one. It should support your cervical spine while you sleep and may even cut down on the number of times you toss and turn throughout the night, says Gerry Austin, manager of Relax the Back in Ardmore. To find what’s right for you, take into account your sleeping style.

• If you sleep on your side, try a less-firm but thick, fluffy pillow to support your head and neck and align your head with your spine.

• Avoid elevating your head and neck if you sleep on your stomach. Try a flat, soft pillow or no pillow at all.

• A happy medium is usually best if you sleep on your back (the most symmetrical position). Look for a pillow that is not too firm and not too soft for optimal support and alignment.

Choosing a pillow just from the way you sleep isn’t enough. “While you can’t compromise posture, comfort is an issue as well,” says Austin. “Even if you are a back-sleeper, hard pillows are never comfy.” Body type, specifically your height and shoulder width, plays a role, too. “If you’re tall and have tiny shoulders, you should try a smaller pillow,” says Austin. “Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you need a huge pillow.”

Then there are a variety of fills to consider:

Down Not the same as mere feather fill, which can be coarser and may contain quills, down lasts as long as ten years and is all–natural. But it also tends to be expensive, can irritate asthma or allergies, and is the least supportive fill.

Synthetics or down blends Both are hypo-allergenic, washable and inexpensive, but they may only last half as long as a down pillow.

Foam These pillows conform to the shape of your head and neck, cradling both. Some may be made from a type of rubber, which gets hot at night, so if you live for that cool, other-side-of-the-pillow feeling, this is not your best bet.

Gel Select Comfort, a bedding store in Willow Grove and other locations, offers gel pillows, the newest of synthetic fills. The brand, Luxloft, uses a microgel that mimics the feel of down, but is machine-washable and hypoallergenic. It also lasts longer than most synthetics, but is not as costly as down.