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Pillow Buying Guide – Key Points

tempur mattress buying guide

Welcome to Vale Furnisher’s pillow buying guide. Here we will cover the essential points to consider when deciding to buy a new pillow.

Your Sleeping Style

Probably the most important factor in choosing a pillow, your sleeping style helps determine your required pillow thickness and firmness.

Allergies and Sleeping Problems

Certain allergies will influence pillow choice and sleeping problems such as neck and back pain can be alleviated by purchasing particular types of pillow.

See For Yourself

We sell a wide array of sumptuous pillows from the best bed brands in the UK. Many of these are on display in our Ash Vale showroom, home to our extensive bedroom department. Please do not hesitate to come and try them out for yourself.

This pillow buying guide will help you make sure you get the best night’s sleep possible by choosing the right pillow. If you have any further questions, please call us on 01252 325525 and our knowledgeable sales advisers will be only too happy to help. You can find out more about our pillows on our website.

The Best Pillows For Different Sleeping Positions

Choosing the right pillow can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. There are many different types, fillings and thicknesses, and no single pillow is great for everyone. It’s a question of choosing what’s most comfortable for you and best supports your head and neck.

Your first consideration in selecting a pillow should be the way in which you sleep.

  1. Tummy sleepers

If you sleep on your front, choose a soft and fairly flat pillow, one that cushions your head and neck at a comfortable angle and allows your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

  1. Back sleepers

If you sleep on your back, choose a medium-thickness pillow that properly cradles the natural curvature of your upper spine.

  1. Side sleepers

If you sleep on your side, choose a firm or super firm, medium-to-high-thickness pillow that helps provide an even sleeping surface, keeping your body in a horizontal line.

  1. Mixed sleepers

If you sleep on your front, back and side at different times during the night, choose a medium-thickness pillow that is softer, allowing it to be used comfortably in different positions.

Pillow Filling


 Down Pillows

Down pillows are as soft as a cloud and the most luxurious pillows you can buy. Down is made from the fluffy tufts beneath the outer feathers of ducks and geese.


  • Down pillows are super soft, making them great for tummy sleepers. A high-fill down pillow is great for back sleepers too.
  • Down clusters intertwine to form air pockets, making them an effective natural insulator and wonderfully breathable, keeping you cool during the night.
  • Down pillows hold up better and last longer than most synthetic fills.


  • Down pillows can be too soft for side sleepers; a down/feather mix would be better.
  • When you change position, down pillows need more coaxing and pulling into shape than a memory foam pillow, which isn’t great for mixed sleepers who change position frequently.
  • Down pillows may not be suitable for asthma sufferers or people with allergies.

 Feather Pillows

White feathers pillow - pillow buying guide

Feather pillows are filled with the outer, harder feathers of ducks and geese. Most feather pillows will usually contain a small percentage of down to soften them up a little.


  • Feather pillows provide firmer support than down pillows, which makes them great for side sleepers.
  • Feather pillows increase facial circulation and relieve pressure points.
  • Feather pillows are usually inexpensive.


  • There is a chance that some of the feather quills might poke through the fabric, particularly in cheaper feather pillows. (Though some say this is good luck and you should make a wish!)
  • Feather pillows lose their shape after a while, collapsing after constant use.
  • Like down pillows, feather pillows may not be suitable for asthma sufferers or people with allergies.

Memory Foam Pillows

tempur Memory foam pillow

Memory foam is a synthetic pillow filling. It’s made from a dense and spongy polyurethane material that moulds around your body shape, offering superb ergonomic support and sumptuous comfort.


  • Memory foam is great for all sleeping positions as it moulds to your body shape, carefully securing your neck, shoulders, back and sides.
  • Memory foam pillows relieve pressure points and help keep your spine aligned, which makes them the best option for sleepers with neck or spine problems.
  • Memory foam is high-density, which is great for those who prefer a firmer pillow.
  • Memory foam is good for allergy and asthma sufferers.


  • The high density of memory foam means it is less breathable and can make you hot (though newer-style memory foam pillows are more breathable).
  • Memory foam pillows are generally more expensive.

Polyester Pillows

Polyester is a lightweight and affordable synthetic fibre and a very common pillow filling. In fact, polyester pillows are the most popular pillows in the UK, available in a wide range of qualities and thicknesses.


  • With so many levels of firmness and thickness available, polyester pillows are good for all sleeping positions.
  • Polyester pillows bounce back to fluffiness and softness after you squish them, making them good for sleepers with neck pains.
  • Polyester pillows retain their shape longer than cotton pillows.
  • Polyester pillows are cheap and easy to come by.
  • Unlike many other types of pillow, polyester pillows can be machine-washed and dried.


  • Polyester pillows feel lumpy if they’re not fluffed up often, and don’t offer the same levels of comfort as a down pillow or foam pillow.
  • Polyester doesn’t breathe well, which can make you feel hot and uncomfortable on a warm night.
  • While polyester fibre holds up longer than cotton, it doesn’t retain its shape as long as down and feathers. Polyester pillows generally need to be replaced every year or two.
  • Polyester pillows can harbour dust mites, which is a problem if you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, asthma or a dust mite allergy.

Latex Pillows

Latex pillow

Latex fill is a spongy material and natural alternative to memory foam, but does have a number of different properties.


  • Latex pillows offer deep and comfortable support for the head and neck and conform to your body shape in a similar way to memory foam, which is good for all sleeping positions.
  • Latex pillows are resilient, hold their shape well and last longer than memory foam pillows.
  • Latex fill doesn’t give that ‘sinking in’ feeling you sometimes get with memory foam.
  • Latex is naturally resistant to mould and dust mites, which makes it an ideal material for allergy sufferers.
  • Latex pillows offer much better breathability than memory foam, so you get a cooler sleep.


  • Latex pillows are generally the most expensive pillows.
  • Latex pillows can impart a strange odour for a few days after purchase.

Wool and Cotton Pillows

Wool and cotton pillows are traditional, all-natural pillows which many people prefer to synthetic fibres.


  • Wool and cotton pillows are great for allergy sufferers, boasting a natural resistance to dust mites and mould.
  • Wool and cotton pillows are quite firm, which makes them great for side sleepers.
  • Wool and cotton pillows help you stay cool during the night.


  • Wool and cotton pillows flatten quicker than polyester pillows and go quite hard, which means they’re not ideal for tummy sleepers or mixed sleepers.
  • Wool and cotton pillows don’t conform to your body shape as well as other materials.
  • Wool and cotton pillows tend to be heavier and more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

Other Pillow Types

If you have specific sleeping issues, you can buy speciality pillows. These include n-shaped pillows for people who suffer from sleep apnoea and orthopaedic pillows for people with neck pain, as well as pregnancy and anti-snoring pillows. For more information about our range of speciality pillows, please call our sales team on 01252 325525.

And while the pillow fillings described above are the main ones, many other fill types are available. Some pillows have a foam and microfibre blend for optimum comfort and support. Some even have pocket springs, offering luxurious and tailored comfort and retaining their shape without ever needing to be fluffed up.

Buying Your Pillow

Based near Guildford, Vale Furnishers are one of Surrey and Hampshire’s leading furniture shop specialistsOn display in our Ash Vale showroom is a vast selection of pillows, including latex, wool, synthetic fibre, memory foam, feather and down pillows. They are provided by some of the best and most prestigious bed brands in the UK, including The Fine Bedding Company, Belledorm, Hypnos and Tempur.

Our pillow ranges include advanced synthetic fibre pillows that can be washed at 60° (unlike most fibre pillows that can only be washed at 40°); head and neck pillows that alleviate pain by letting you move the filling to where you need it most; and high and low-profile latex pillows that are specially designed for different sleeping positions.

But the best thing about our pillow collection is that you can try before you buy. Simply squeezing a pillow with your hand is not a good indicator of how suitable it is. Here at Vale Furnishers, we let you try out our pillows on any bed that’s similar to what you have at home. This allows you to find out whether the pillow will adequately support your head and neck in your preferred sleeping position.

Our pillows can be purchased in store or direct from our website.

Choosing Your Pillowcase

brushed cotton pillow case

The best pillowcases are the ones made from top-quality fabrics with 230 threads or more per square inch. Higher thread count pillowcases are softer and more durable, preventing the fill from getting out and impurities getting in. The higher the thread count, the better the pillowcase can protect the pillow against moisture and body oils.

We sell a wide array of the finest pillowcases in the UK, individually in various colours or as part of a full duvet cover set. They range from lush polyester-cotton blends to sumptuous pure Egyptian cotton coverings with 400+ thread counts.

Getting Further Help and Advice

Visit our Ash Vale store to try out our pillows on a variety of beds and find what works for you. You can also pore over our collection of pillowcases, pillow protectors and luxury bed linen. If you have further questions about the pros and cons of different materials and fillings, feel free to grill our experienced sales advisers. For further details about our pillows and bed linen, or anything not covered in this pillow buying guide, please do not hesitate to call us on 01252 325525.

Your Pillow Buying Guide Checklist

  • What position do you tend to sleep in? Back, front, side or mixed?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have problems sleeping?
  • Do you have neck or back pain?
  • Could a speciality pillow be better for you?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • How long do you want your pillow to last?
Do you have any questions not covered in this pillow buying guide?
Please contact our furniture experts in Surrey and Hampshire on 01252 325525 for more information.

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