Deciding which level of firmness would benefit you best can be tricky, but the position in which you sleep can help provide an indication. Back sleepers and side sleepers often need a pillow with a higher loft than stomach sleepers, due to the way the spine lays in these positions.
Firm and soft pillows can both provide many benefits. Knowing which will provide the right benefits is what is most important when making a decision. Below we discuss the differences between these types and which might be the right pick for you!
What Is The Pillow Firmness?
Soft pillows are best for stomach sleepers. They should never be used by back or side sleepers, due to poor spinal alignment.
The loft is also important to consider, which is the measurement of how high a pillow is off the ground when it's in its uncompressed state. A higher loft will result in better airflow and comfort, but might not provide enough support for some people who need extra body contour while they rest. Meanwhile, low-loft pillows can cause neck pain because there isn't enough surface area between your head and the bed itself! If this happens, you may want something with more height so that your spine stays aligned during slumber time.
Soft pillows have an average loft of around two inches.
Medium soft pillows usually have a loft of around two and a half inches. These types are great for back sleepers who need extra body contouring to keep their spine in line, but aren't too elevated like firmer options.
Top Rated Medium Soft Pillow
Maxzzz Bed Pillows
Provide a cloud-like feeling with down alternative fill
Medium pillows have a loft of around three inches, which is the most popular height for this level. These work best with stomach and back sleepers who need just a little bit more support to keep them in line during slumber time!
Top Rated Medium Pillow
Maxzzz Bamboo Pillows for Sleeping
Provide great comfort and support
Medium-firm pillows are the most popular options for this level. They might be too high or firm for stomach sleepers, but provide just what back and side sleepers need to stay comfortable throughout the night.
Top Rated Medium-Firm Pillow
Maxzzz Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Molds to the curve of your head and neck
The firmest pillow category is the best option for side or back sleepers; people tend to love the support when they're sleeping on their backs or sides because it doesn't offer that sinking feeling you get from softer versions. If your head sinks all the way into a pillow while you rest, it can cause neck pain and discomfort over time as well as hinder airflow due to your spinal alignment. A good rule of thumb is if you naturally roll onto your stomach during sleep, you'll want a softer pillow.
Which One is Better for You: Soft or Firm Pillows?
Side sleepers should opt for firm pillows so that their head stays elevated enough to keep the spine in line. The middle of a soft pillow might not provide enough support, but firmer options will.
Back sleepers also need firm or medium-firm pillows because they align your cervical and lumbar spines without causing too much sinkage. A softer option won't be as supportive unless it has a high loft, which can cause discomfort over time due to poor blood flow.
Stomach sleepers definitely want something on the softer side due to spinal alignment; stomach sleeping puts more pressure on your neck than other positions do because you're laying flat with no elevation whatsoever.
Combination sleepers should try out a medium soft pillow because it has just the right amount of firmness to keep them comfortable during their non-stomach sleep, but also offers enough support when you're on your side or back. Maxzzz pillows offer a great combination of softness and firmness and are designed to support a variety of needs.
Pillow Firmness and Types
Types of Pillows
Another way to think about firmness is through the types of pillows. A down pillow will be on the softer side because it's filled with feathers, while memory foam and latex are considered medium-firm options that provide just enough support without sinking too far into a cushion. Feather pillows tend to be more on the firmer end due to their natural structure.
Down tends to sink in easily compared to other types like memory foam or latex (which both have some bounce), which makes them different than traditional soft versions. Down has an average loft of around two inches; however, there can still be variability between brands so always try out any new purchase for comfort before you make your final decision.
Down pillows tend to sink into the cushion quite easily which makes them softer than other types like memory foam. Down pillows also have an average loft around two inches tall, but there can still be variability depending on the brand so always give any new purchase a go before deciding if it's your perfect match.
Memory foam has some spring, which means it's not too soft or sinking like down pillows can be. Memory foam is also hypoallergenic and doesn't hold onto allergens as much as traditional materials do since the filled cells are closed off instead of open to outside dust particles.
Like memory foam, latex has just enough bounce to provide firm support without sinking in too far. However, latex is naturally more bouncy than memory foam so you might feel even less sinkage if that's an issue for you. Latex pillows tend to keep its shape longer than other options on account of its strength and durability.
Are firm pillows good?
Soft and firm options both have their place depending on your specific needs. For example, a stomach sleeper should go with a softer pillow because it's better for spinal alignment while everyone else should choose from medium or firmer options. Firm pillows are also perfect if you're looking to keep neck pain at bay!
What type of pillow is the softest pillow?
Down pillows tend to be the softest because they're filled with feathers that can compress easily and sink into a cushion. Memory foam and latex are both more supportive than down, but not as bouncy.
Can firm pillows cause headaches?
Pillows that are too soft or too firm can both cause headaches, but a pillow with the right amount of support is what's best for your spine alignment and neck muscles. If you're experiencing frequent tension in those areas even after switching to a new type of pillow, it might be time to try out something else.