How To Choose The Correct Pillow

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Advice hub
  4. /
  5. Sleeping
  6. /
  7. Choose Right Pillow

It may be that the pillow you already have is absolutely fine and it could be other factors that are causing neck and back pain whilst you sleep.  This article takes you through the important elements to consider with your pillow and how you lie on it.  

In addition we describe two types of pillow and their individual merits to help you with how to choose the right pillow for a good nights sleep.


As Therapists We Are Often Asked Should I Sleep On One Pillow or Two?

However that question can’t be answered because it depends on the size of the pillow/s you are sleeping on. By the end of this article you will know how to choose the right pillow for you.

Because we spend so many hours sleeping in bed, if the pillow height isn’t correct it’s going to cause problems in the long-term. That can be pain and tension across the upper back into the neck, lower back, headaches.  Or maybe waking up with that feeling of a tight band around your head that leaves you a little bit muzzy headed.

So the first thing that you really need to take into consideration is the bed that you’re sleeping on.  Your mattress needs to be soft enough to give for your hips and shoulders, keeping your back in a nice straight line.  When you are lying in bed, you should be able to completely relax and your mattress should hold you in place. Your torso should not roll or twist at all.

Once you know that your mattress is right, your pillow needs to be an extension of this so that your neck is in a straight line with your spine.  Your pillow needs to fill the space between your shoulder and your neck. The video above shows the difference between a pillow that is too thin and one that is too thick.

When a pillow is too thin it causes your head and neck to drop below horizontal. This can cause pressure in and around the neck which often leads to neck pain.

With a pillow is too thick/high it causes the opposite problem creating a compression on the joints on the upper part of the neck and tension on the muscles on the underside.  All of which affects the ligaments and the muscles and cause pain and tension over time.

That is why it is so important to make sure that your pillow is correct. Thankfully there is a solution in the form of neck or orthopaedic type pillows. The video above talks you through in more detail about the pillows in the Sittingwell range.

The Royal Rest pillow has a contoured edge, with a hollow in the middle. Your head rests in the hollow area. This means that your neck is supported whether you’re lying on your back or your side. Additionally there is a higher side and a lower side, so this pillow can pretty much cater for most sizes. The side you would choose depends on your height and the width of your shoulder.


Often the perception is that memory foam is quite firm. The Royal Rest pillow squishes nice and easily (see the video at the top of the page). This is fabulous because it means that as you’re lying on it, the memory foam gently cradles and supports your neck and then when you come off it just returns back to its original shape.

The main difference between the two Royal rest pillows we stock is that the foam pillow doesn’t have as long a life as the memory foam pillow. So as an example, when these pillows first came out I (Rachael) had the foam pillow.  This started to show signs of wear after about 2 1/2 years.  The memory foam pillow I’ve had for about 3 1/2 – 4 years now and it’s still going strong.  So although it is a bigger investment you pay for the longevity ultimately saving money in the long term.

If you have never slept on a pillow like this before, then with the foam pillow being a lower cost then it can just be a better starting point. But just bear in mind that in the long run, it won’t last as long.

Our last example is the Putnam’s Memory Foam pillow. It has a nice cutaway for the shoulders, there is also a slight hollow for your head to fit into. The main difference with the Putnam’s pillow is the memory foam is slightly firmer. So if you prefer that type of feeling then this could be the pillow for you.

We hope you’ve found this information useful and here’s happy pain-free sleeping.