Are Luxury Pillows Worth the Extra Cost?

Luxury pillows are becoming popular with brands and consumers, providing cradling support for the head and neck. From specially-designed, contoured shapes for people who sleep on their back or side and new takes on the traditional pillow shape, there are a myriad of styles out there. The top trends and advances in pillow shapes continue to evolve while improvements in materials create healthier surfaces. Many are an extension of popular luxury mattress technologies, while others aim at specific concerns. Keep reading to learn more about luxury pillows.

All About Luxury Pillows

People are becoming more aware of the role sleep plays in quality of life, and how mattresses, bedding and pillows affect us. Manufacturers are also realizing the people want better-quality pillows, and competing to produce the next best thing. Considered as part of an entire sleep system, luxury pillows are currently enjoying a revival as new products and designs enter the market.

How to shop for Luxury Pillows

Popular contoured shapes and innovative materials have been developed for specific sleep preferences to provide increased comfort and support. While some may be gimmicks, others may make a big difference in your comfort. When considering luxury pillows, look at the following components:

Thickness:  This refers to how tall the profile of the pillow is, which can range from 1″ to 10″. What feels good will depend purely on preference , your body type, and your preferred sleeping position. Generally, back sleepers would do best with a pillow in the medium 2-4″ range, while side sleepers may need a little more loft to support the neck and stomach sleepers may prefer a thin pillow. If you sleep on your side, the pillow height should keep your spine and neck straight, if on your back, the pillow should preserve a natural slightly elevated posture. However, people with GERD/reflux and some breathing disorders may need higher pillows for optimal comfort.

Firmness: The firmness of a pillow affects the support it provides, and again will depend on preference. Pillows that are too soft will provide little support for side and back sleepers, but may be just right for a stomach sleeper. Firmer pillows, especially contour style pillows, are designed to improve alignment for side sleepers. A medium-firm level is considered universal and is a good starting point if you are unsure. Keep in mind that almost all materials tend to soften over time, so picking a pillow slightly firmer than desired may be helpful.

Pillow Material: Know what the pillow contains inside and out. Some may have memory foam or latex upper layers, but cores made of other foams, for example. Filler materials like synthetic latex or cores may be added to reduce costs, but usually don’t help with comfort. This is also important when trying to assess the health benefits, as materials like natural down can harbor allergens and synthetic foams can present chemical concerns.

Cover Material: While most people use a pillowcase, it is still important to consider what the cover contains. You want a healthy, breathable fabric like cotton or bamboo.  A removable cover is preferable for cleaning.

Warranty: Every luxury pillow should come with a warranty to ensure against defects. Look for a period of at least one year. Most pillows, even luxury pillows, will not come with a trial period, especially if unboxed or slept on.

Price: On average when purchasing a luxury pillow, expect to spend in the 80 to 100 dollar price range. Inexpensive styles are not able to provide adequate spine and cranial support and often have to be readjusted throughout the night. Products made of high-quality foams and organic materials may cost more than poly-fill pillows, but the investment in sleep and health is worth it.

Types of Luxury Pillows

Not too long ago, the most luxurious pillows available were made of down feathers. However, nowadays, many types of construction are available, each claiming to offer the best sleep. The following examples are some of the new entries into the luxury market:

  • The multidimensional support of memory foam may have been the original inspiration for luxury pillows. This type of material can be formed in contoured slabs or shredded. Memory foam is hypoallergenic, mold and dust mite resistant, crucial to minimizing allergies and related breathing problems.
  • Plant-based memory foam offers another alternative. Using natural ingredients to create memory foam as opposed to the chemical based polyurethane made popular by other companies, these luxury pillows allow more air flow and don’t release dangerous chemicals. Amerisleep’s memory foam pillows utilize the same material from their mattresses, which offers breathability, quick response time, and zero toxic VOCs. These come in two styles and range from $70-90.
  • Innerspring pillows are based on traditional mattress designs and wrapped in memory foam or latex. These can be stiff, noisy and thicker than many people enjoy, but claim to offer more durable support than traditional pillows, and comfort via foam layers. Soff-Art is one notable brand making these, at the $50-75 range.
  • Gel-based pillows typically combine memory foam or poly foam with a gel layer to regulate temperatures. While nothing may feel as good as the cool side of the pillow, possible issues include keeping it clean, and the fact that gel eventually warms to body temperature.  Luxury pillows with gel are available from a wide range of brands retailers, from the $30-90 range.
  • Pure latex pillows offer another realistic and health luxury pillow option. 100% natural talalay latex pillows are considered the best, as the material is free of harsh chemicals, resilient, durable, and available in different firmnesses. Latex is also resistant to mold, mildew, bacteria and dust mites. offers a 100% natural Talalay latex pillow starting at $159.

Why are pillows important?

Your choice of pillow actually plays a big role in overall sleep quality. One that requires constant refolding and re-fluffing will disrupt sleep. A bed pillow that is too thin, too high, or unsupportive can cause neck and back pain, and even headaches. Choosing a great pillow that allows you sleep comfortably is thus imperative to getting quality rest.

Another issue with pillows proves susceptibility to allergens and contaminants. Your pillow sits next your face for 8 hours a day, meaning you want it to be as healthy as possible. Certain materials like memory foam and latex are better at preventing the accumulation of bacteria, which could contribute to illnesses or skin irritations, and allergens like dust mites, pet dander, or molds that could affect asthma and health.  Use of a zippered pillow protector can also help increase longevity and reduce allergens in traditional and luxury pillows.

Age of pillows is another important factor.  People often do not realize how long they have slept on their old pillow and how many bacteria and allergens it harbors via skin oils, dust mites and other icky stuff. They also break down over time, meaning that a pillow that used to provide excellent support is no longer adequate.  Most experts recommend replacement every six months to three years. Fiberfill pillows tend to break down and loose support within a few months, while higher-quality memory foam and latex can last for several years. If you find yourself with pains or struggling to get comfortable on your pillow, it may be time to replace it. One test to determine this is placing it lengthwise over your arm to see if it bends in half.  If so, it’s time to replace it with a new one.

Knowing what to look for and what each technology offers is important in choosing the best option for your needs. A pillow remains a highly personal purchase, so no one type is right for everyone. These tips are designed to help explain the differences so you can research and discover if luxury pillows are what the sandman ordered.

Medical Disclaimer: The information contained on the site should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for informational purposes only.

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