No matter how cozy and inviting the rest of your bedding is, you won’t get a good night’s sleep unless you’re resting your head on a comfortable pillow. There are all kinds out there to choose from, so let’s take a look at the options so you can find the best cradle for your noggin.
Foam – Memory-foam pillows are a pretty cool concept. They mold to your head and momentarily retain their shape when you move around, so you kind of feel like you’re sleeping on a custom-made headrest. On the other hand, they don’t have the immediate pliability of down or cotton-filled pillows, so if you squirm around in your sleep, they might drive you up the wall. Foam pillows are typically made of synthetic filling and give off a chemical smell that some people find irritating. Shop around to find ones that are made of natural, plant-based ingredients like soy, latex or rubber.
Down – From an allergen standpoint, goose down is your best option if you’re looking for a feather-filled pillow to snooze on. They’ll set you back a lot more than pillows filled with chicken or turkey feathers, but are also less likely to cause an allergic reaction to those with sensitivities.
Kapok – This tree-based fiber fill is reminiscent of down, but without the potential allergy problems associated with animal feathers. Kapok is harvested in rainforests, so if you go this route, make sure you’re buying from a company that’s committed to environmental responsibility.
Organic cotton – Cotton pillows are comfy, firm, and can withstand nightly use for a long time without needing to be replaced. Available in a wide price range, you should be able to find a good chemical-free, organic style to fit your budget without sacrificing your commitment to live responsibly.
Buckwheat – Made from buckwheat hulls leftover from the milling process, this is the perfect choice if you’re always flipping your pillow back and forth looking for the cool spot. Beware, though, all those hulls rattling around next to your ear all night are kinda noisy. Millet hull pillows offer the same benefits as buckwheat but don’t sound like a thousand Mexican jumping beans moving around under your head. Or, if you can’t bear to part with buckwheat, get a thick pillowcase to muffle the sound a bit.
Hemp – If you want to catch 420 winks on a hemp pillow, look for 100 percent hemp fill, not just a standard pillow with a hemp cover. The weight of your head will tamp down the filling over time so this is the way to go if you like a slim, flat pillow over a cushier alternative.
Wool – Most wool-stuffed pillows are made from sheeps’ wool, but alpaca wool is becoming a hot trend as well. Alpaca wool is more breathable that it’s sheepy counterpart, and therefore cooler to rest on during a hot summer night. It’s also softer and won’t mat as easily as sheeps’ wool, so give an alpaca-stuffed pillow a second look if you like wool filler but have had issues with it in the past.