When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, the pillow that you use is almost as important as your mattress. Choosing the wrong pillow can result in problems like poor quality sleep, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Understanding the difference between hard and soft pillows will make it easier to choose the right pillow for your needs.
The firmness of a pillow is determined by its density. Pillows that have a high density are usually quite firm, meaning that they don’t sink down much when you apply pressure to them. Pillows that have a lower density, on the other hand, are much softer. When you put your head on the pillow, it easily sinks down into the surface.
Pillows usually fall into three basic categories: soft, medium, and firm. Along with the density of the pillow, the type of fill material that is used can affect how firm or soft it is. As an example, a pillow that is filled with feathers will generally be a lot softer than one that is made out of solid foam. Of course, this is only a generalization since the opposite can be true, as well. If a pillow is stuffed completely full of feathers to the point that the fabric is stretched tight, it may be firmer than a pillow that is made out of low-density foam. Again, it all comes down to the density of the pillow.
Now that you have a better idea of how pillows are classified in terms of their firmness, how do you know which one is right for you? In essence, it all comes down to the way that you sleep. By analyzing your sleep habits, you can determine which type of pillow is best suited to your needs.
If you are like most people, you probably sleep in pretty much the same position every night. Some people sleep on their backs while others sleep on their sides. Some people even sleep on their stomachs. The position that you sleep in will largely determine which kind of pillow you need.
Ultimately, the pillow that you choose should keep your neck from bending too far to one side or the other or from front to back. The goal is to keep your neck in proper alignment with the rest of your spine. This helps prevent neck strain, back pain, and shoulder pain.
If you primarily sleep on your back, you should look for a medium-density pillow that is relatively flat. If your pillow is too firm, it will tip your head forward, with your chin dropping toward your chest. Over the course of a typical night, this can strain the back of your neck, resulting in pain. Going with a pillow that has a medium firmness is the best option. That way, your head can sink down into the pillow, making it easier to keep your neck properly aligned. At the same time, a medium-density pillow is still firm enough that it can support your neck, keeping it from arching backward or sagging down toward the bed.
If you usually sleep on your side, on the other hand, you should look for a firm pillow that is relatively tall. The pillow should span the distance between the outer edge of your shoulder and the side of your head. That way, when you are laying on your side, it will keep your head properly supported without allowing it to fall down toward the mattress or pushing it up toward your other shoulder. Going with a thick, firm pillow also helps relieve pressure on your shoulder, making it more comfortable to sleep.
Finally, if you sleep on your stomach, you should opt for a pillow that is extremely soft and flat. Your head needs to be as close to the mattress as possible to keep your neck from getting pushed out of alignment.
This should give you a better idea of the difference between hard and soft pillows. When deciding what firmness is right for you, consider the way that you usually sleep. If you sleep on your back, opt for a medium-density pillow. If you sleep on your side, consider choosing a firm pillow. Finally, if you sleep on your stomach, a soft pillow is the best choice.