Sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing. Experiencing good quality rest can make a huge difference to many aspects of life, so it’s important to do everything possible to get a good night’s sleep. Along with your bed, mattress and general sleep environment, your choice in bedding can play a big role in your quality of sleep, so making the right decisions when it’s time to purchase new pillows and duvets can make all the difference. This guide aims to help you choose the best pillows and duvets for your needs, offering the right comfort and support levels and assisting with an optimum sleep experience, night after night.
We all sleep in different positions, but whether you are a front, back or side sleeper, you will need a quality pillow to get the most out of your rest. Sleeping in the wrong position for your body can result in you feeling more tired than usual in the morning, or even cause back or neck pain, headaches and can exacerbate conditions such as sciatica.
As such, the firmness of the pillow you buy is important, which is determined by the type of filling it has. This will either be natural or synthetic.
Natural-filled pillows, such as those stuffed with goose feathers and down, can offer specialised support. Not only do they conform well to the head and neck, down is a natural insulator that is lightweight, soft and breathable.
Meanwhile, synthetic pillows, including polyester and memory foam, can be used to create firmness. They also benefit from hypoallergenic properties, meaning a synthetic pillow is best if you are allergic to natural fillings.
We recommend using pillow protectors with all of your pillows to help protect them and extend their useful life.
Choosing the best pillows for different sleep positions
Side-sleepers have a large gap between the shoulder and neck which needs the right level of support from a pillow. Choose the full head and shoulder support of a memory foam or down pillow, which can help keep your spine aligned and minimise undue strain on the head, shoulders and back as you sleep. Some side sleepers can also benefit from a pillow for between the knees, as this can help ensure proper alignment of the hips and spine.
Many back-sleepers tend to use a flatter or soft pillow, but this is often not the right solution and can mean poor spinal alignment, which can result in back or neck pain. Try a comfortable shoulder supporting pillow with a mixed feather and down filling, or medium-firmness synthetic pillow. Many back sleepers also sleep with their shoulders on the pillow, not just their head, which means that a pillow that offers mouldable support can be the best choice, such as a memory foam pillow.
For front-sleepers, it can be especially difficult to find a pillow that works for you and helps you get the best possible quality of sleep. Your head will be turned to one side or the other, which can put pressure on the neck and spine. Low or flatter pillows often work best, offering a little support but not elevating the head or shoulders too far from the mattress.
Sleeping upright isn’t as common as the other sleep positions, but sometimes people need to sleep in a sitting or upright position after surgery or because of other health conditions. It’s important that upright-sleepers have appropriate back and neck support so that extra strain isn’t put on the spine and torso and they can sleep with a posture that doesn’t cause pain or stiffness the next day. Upright sleepers can usually stay supported throughout the night with memory foam pillows, often one behind the back and another, slightly flatter pillow behind the head. V-shaped pillows can also be a good solution for supporting the back.
Duvets use tog ratings to indicate the scale of thermal insulation. During the summer months, we advise the best duvet to buy will have a lower tog of 4-4.5, with the winter months requiring a thicker 10+ tog duvet.
Natural: Often in the form of goose or duck feathers to provide higher levels of warmth with less filling, natural duvets are available in down (fluffy feathers), feathers (large feathers) or a combination of both.
Synthetic: A popular choice for allergy sufferers, synthetic duvets can offer a firmer feel and be washed more often. These duvets are available in hollow fibre (hollow) and micro fibre (extra fine) formats.
Whichever type of duvet you choose, you can also use a duvet protector to prolong the life of your bedding. Many duvets can be machine-washed (although some thicker duvets may not fit in standard-size domestic washing machines) but ensure that the instructions for your particular duvet are followed carefully to help it stay looking and working at its best for longer. After cleaning, always make sure that the duvet is fully aired and totally dry before is returned to the bed.
• Stick to your sleep schedule every night/day. Having a consistent bed time and wake time (even at the weekends) can help your body clock to better regulate your sleep and ensure you’re getting the rest your body and mind needs
• Develop a ‘going to sleep’ routine, such as reading a book to wind down, and avoid blue-light devices, such as phones and tablets, for at least 20 minutes before bedtime
• Avoid taking naps in the daytime if you struggle to sleep at night
• Minimise distractions in your bedroom. Whether it’s a bit of light sneaking through the curtains or blinds, a buzzing mobile phone or a snoring partner, little things can make a big difference to how easily you fall to sleep and stay asleep. Banish phones from the bed, use ear plugs and invest in some blackout curtains or blinds to make for a more peaceful night’s sleep
• Exercise every day. Whether it’s a walk or a full-on gym session or participation in sport, exercising at some point in every day can really help improve your quality of sleep
• For partners who like different levels of warmth when they sleep, consider separate duvets of different tog ratings to ensure each person can sleep at their optimum temperature, for a more restful night
• Wash your bedding frequently to ensure it feels fresh, clean and is free from a build-up of dust and dead skin cells
• Replace your mattress or pillows if they are no longer offering the support you need to sleep comfortably. A good-quality mattress should last around 8-10 years, so if yours has exceeded this and you notice that you’re not sleeping as well as you used to, it could be time to think about replacing yours
See the full range of pillows and duvets from TJ Hughes by clicking here and choose some fresh new bed linen sets here.