Your old manky pillow needs replacing.  How do you choose a new one?

Testing pillows in a shop

So you know what kind of sleeper you are, and you’ve gone to the shop. You are sorting through pillows that fit your budget.  You’ve got a few in front of you. Which one do you choose?

It’s really important to take your time in choosing so that you avoid wasting money, or worse, sticking with a pillow that doesn’t work for you and making you sleep more poorly.

The only way to know which one to take home is to actually try them.

Here are some tips for trying pillows in a shop:

  • ​Go to a shop or department dedicated to beds and pillows.  They should be used to people trying mattresses, and so if they are, they should be very happy to let you test some pillows.
  • ​Ignore the words ‘orthopedic’ and ‘memory’ and anything that a sales person wants to introduce you to first without having spoken to you about your sleep position and preferences.
  • Knowing your sleeping style, look for the shape/lift of pillow you want and gather together a few of them.  Try both synthetic and natural fill pillows unless you already have a clear preference.
  • ​Ensure each pillow you try has a polythene bag or cover on it.  This won’t feel fantastic, but it is mean to protect both you and the next tester.  It’s a critical hygiene precaution. If you tend to get sick easily, have a few face or cleaning wipes with you in a plastic baggie and wipe off the plastic.
  • Starting with the least expensive pillow, get onto the bed and use the pillow as you would do at home. Lay there a while.  Really give it a road test!
  • If that one doesn’t work for you, try the next most expensive one in the same way.  Is it different? How? If you think it’s the filling, try the same lift and price bracket in another filling.
  • Keep going until you have a winner!  Doing it this way means you won’t be  swayed by ‘pricier is automatically better’, and you will get to test a range of pillows in a sensible way until you find the one you like best.

Testing Pillows Bought Online

​Shopping online for a pillow is tough and follows the same basic processes: but has plusses and minuses over shopping in a store for a pillow. Be sure of the return policy before you buy and test!

Plusses:

​You can try the pillows without a sales person breathing down your neck

You can try the pillows on your own bed

You may take more time choosing your pillow

Minuses:

You will have a harder time comparing pillows if you get them one at a time

It will take longer to choose a pillow unless you purchase multiple pillows for testing (up front cost is higher)

You have to do returns either way unless you get lucky on your first order!

You need to be careful that the polythene bag is not removed or damaged – again – most return policies won’t accept a pillow return if it’s been opened


Whether you decide to shop in person or online is up to you.  If you have the cash to splash (knowing you’ll get most back on the ones you return), and already have some preferences on the filling for your pillow I’d suggest to buy a few pillows with good reviews and try them out at home.

If you don’t, it’s far faster and more cost effective to go to a shop and get a pillow there.