Choosing a New Pillow-Your Questions Answered

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Do you need a New Pillow?


The average life span of a pillow is between 18 months to 5 years depending on the quality. Memory foam pillows can last the longest & polyester ones usually the shortest. So they can wear out much quicker than you might think. For example, your pillow gets used about 8 hours a night (If your lucky) that’s nearly 3000 hours a year. We believe your pillow should be an important investment, like your mattress. I’m always amazed when people talk to me about sleep problems then confess their mattress & pillow are 10 years old, yet their phones are brand new & cost  yet cost 20 times more-very peculiar!

It’s such an important investment yet gets totally ignored time after time. It can really change your quality of sleep, so please don’t ignore it!

To check to see if you need a new one, try this little test.

  1. Fold pillow in half
  2. Put some weight on top of the pillow (a shoe maybe)
  3. Let go of the pillow
  4. The pillow should fold back into shape, launching the shoe into the atmosphere. If not, your pillow has lost its shape and needs replacing.

You can also do more obvious checks.

  • Is the pillow smelly?
  • When you remove the cover, are there sweat stains showing?
  • Are there any tears or holes in the pillow outer?

 How hard should your pillow be?

pillow firmness









Should your pillow be Soft, medium or hard is a question we often hear. The answer is, depends on what position you like to sleep in.

Pillows come in all shapes and sizes, and vary a great deal in firmness, just like humans really. We believe that it’s better to go to a bed store and try out a pillow yourself rather than buy pillows you have no idea whether you will like, but if you can’t get to the shops or are just too shy to lie on their beds to try their pillows, we are here to help with out independent answers to your pillow questions.

  • Back Sleepers- Need softer pillows as support is needed for alignment of neck & spine
  • Side Sleepers- Need medium to firm pillows to fill the void between head and mattress & to keep their neck aligned.
  • Front Sleepers- Need a medium to firm pillow, but more importantly, thin in size, as they don’t want their neck stressed in an awkward position.

Whatever firmness you go for, make sure your head is supported by the pillow, rather than simply going for the fluffiest pillow, sometimes fluffiest isn’t always best, not for your posture anyway!

What size should your pillow be?


For most people a standard pillow will be fine. But there are other sized pillows such as a body pillow which is about the same size as the person in length. then there are pillows such as Neck pillows that are smallish and corkscrew shaped. So as we say, there are all shapes and sizes.

Most pillows are standard sizes which is 20 x 26 inches but there are other sizes as below

  • Standard  20 x 26 in
  • Queen      20 x 30 in
  • King          20 x 36 in

You can also have Decorative Pillows sizes below

  • Boudoir/Breakfast Pillow   12 x 16 in
  • Square Throw Pillow         18 x 18 in
  • Neckroll Pillow                   06 x 13 in

The real question is what Height should your Pillow be?

The are all kinds of variants to this answer and it’s quite confusing once you start to investigate properly, but we have come out with an approximate guide of an ave size 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft person, needs 4-5 inches pillow height for side sleepers.

  • So if you are a side sleeper, your pillow height needs to be between 45 inches for optimum comfort. Of course, some people will prefer higher and some will prefer lower, but in general, you need a 4-5 inch pillow height
  • For back sleepers it’s slightly less 3-4.5 inches pillow height
  • For stomach sleepers it’s less again at 2.5-3 inches height

 What type of pillow do you need?

what types of pillow are there?


We have already done a blog post for this “What types of pillow are there” 

As a quick reminder or if you haven’t viewed it yet, there are the following types-


  • Body Pillow
  • Buckwheat Pillow
  • Contour Pillow
  • Down Pillow
  • Feather Pillow
  • Latex Pillow
  • Lumbar Pillow
  • Neck Pillow
  • Memory Foam Pillow
  • Polyester Pillow
  • Sleep Apnea Pillow
  • Water Pillow
  • Wedge Pillow


Read the blog for additional information on each type of pillow so you can make an informed decision. For the ave Joe we recommend the Memory Foam pillows as they contour to the head, but not everyone likes them, some people think they are too hard, but we suggest buying Softer Memory Foam Pillow.

Some additional questions you might ask yourself are-

  • Does it feel comfortable?
  • Not to soft or too firm?
  • Does it provide correct support for my head & spine?
  • Would I be happy spending the night in this position
  • Does the temperature of the pillow feel right against my head
  • What if I change to side sleeping during the night-will it still be as supportive & comfortable?

How should I care for my pillow?

Some people have confessed to me that they NEVER ever wash their pillows, only the covers. I simply don’t understand how some people don’t think it’s important to wash their own pillows. There are a host of critters and debris can be found in your pillow, not just on the cover. Dirt, Oil & dead skin cells all get trapped there and this encourages dust mites & even bed bugs. Experts suggest that of all the people who are allergic, two-thirds of them are allergic to dust mites. If your allergy is worse first thing in the morning, it may well be the case that your pillow or mattress is infected with dust mites or bed bugs. Change or wash both and see if you get an ease in reactions.

So for optimum cleanliness, you should wash your outer cover every 3 weeks and your actual pillow at least every 3 months, so just think 3 weeks, 3 months and you should be fine. Incidentally, this is what a dust mite looks like.

Caring for your pillow