Eventually I realized that one of the main culprits of my sleeplessness (besides a nightly flashback of anything awkward Id ever said or done) was the lack of head support I was getting from my pillow. I always had my arm hooked underneath the pillow, propping my head up for increased support. Id soon wake up with an arm that was tingling from almost falling asleep itself, or, if I was finally able to snooze through the night, an extremely sore shoulder and neck, and an arm that needed to be shaken awake.
I reached my breaking point when my bad sleep started to affect what time I was able to wake up, and I wasnt getting into work at the time I wantedsnoozing my alarm to get just 5 more minutes (multiplied by 10). I thought about investing in a Tempur-Pedic or trendy Casper pillow when I first heard about custom pillows.
Custom pillows are made specifically for you, based on things like how hot you run at night, your body measurements and age, and the amount of support you like to get while sleeping. An initial sweep of custom pillows on the Internet made me hesitant as they can definitely be an investment, though they range from as low as $30 to over $300.
I sought some expert advice to see if investing in an expensive custom pillow was really worth it.
Pillows can definitely improve your quality of sleep, says J. Rick Rafael , DPT, CSCS, an orthopedic specialist. The most important factor to consider is the spinepillows that allow for a neutral spine position are best for most people.
For people like me who are constantly looking for more support and wake up with stiffness, Dr. Rafael also says that a firm pillow is typically recommended for improved neck and spinal support. New technical fabrics that help with temperature control are also very beneficial, he says.
Okay, this was enough to get me seriously interested. After some more digging, I decided to try two different kinds of custom pillows to see how much of a difference they could make in getting (and keeping) me asleep. The first one I tried was from Bedgear . These pillows are a personal favorite of W. Chris Winter, MD, a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It . (Dr. Winter currently uses the Lightning 2.0 Pillow from the Bedgear Storm Series.) If soreness is an issue, sleeping in a supine position (on your back) is best, says Dr. Winter. Weight and temperature, the coolness of the fabric or pillowcase, can be things to consider as well. If you sleep with your arm under the pillow, the amount of weight you place on your pillow can be an issue. Keeping his advice in mind, I made sure to specify to Bedgear that I required a pillow with plenty of support.
I was excited to read on their website that they also build their pillows to balance your temperature, no matter how hot or cold you get, and that they offer four different pillow heights depending on your preference. They offered free exchange, so if you slept on the pillow for 100 nights and werent satisfied with the results theyd send you a new one. I ended up going with their M1X pillow series, which has firm foam and moisture-wicking and air flow technologies to balance temperature, according to the website.
Waiting for my Bedgear pillow to arrive, I felt like a child waiting for Christmas presents. It didnt take long for it to come in the mail, and I unboxed it with the enthusiasm of an influencer opening a FabFitFun box for the camera. It definitely felt firmer than my current pillow, but not hard at all, which was relieving as I remembered a bamboo memory foam pillow that I had ordered a few years back that promised more support, only to end up feeling like I was sleeping on a literal rock. This pillow was not that way.
My first impression was that I loved the crescent shape of the Bedgear pillow, which is designed to fit snugly under your neck, though it made it a little tricky when it came to tucking it into a pillowcase. I was dealing with some congestion the first night i tried it, and I actually found myself coughing less frequently which was an absolute blessing. I felt like I had more elevated support (no more arm tucking!). After a few nights on it I brought my old pillows out onto the curb and trashed them.
Next to arrive was the Pluto Pillow . Launched in March 2018, Pluto is definitely the most talked about custom pillow at the moment, perhaps for its approachable price and on-point minimalist branding. Im a sucker for good packaging, so when my Pluto arrived I was excited enough to snap a picture of it.
Opening the box, I noticed it was shaped like a normal rectangular pillow, unlike my Bedgear one. I was relieved that it would fit into my normal pillowcase, but slightly disappointed as I had already grown accustomed to the contoured neck support of the crescent. The first night sleeping on my Pluto went wellit provided good support and was a little squishier than my Bedgear.
At the end of the day (pun intended), I found myself reaching for the Bedgear pillow to ease my coughing, as the neck contour and higher level of firmness kept me feeling supported through the night. With that said, I think the Pluto Pillow is the perfect starter pillow and Im sure Ill find myself sleeping on it once my allergies subside.
Both brands also offer the same 100-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you end up wanting more or less support you send it back for improvements. Both brands kept me cool through the night, my eyes closed, and my arm from being pinned under my heada small change that has made a huge impact on my life.
If youre eager to dive into your own custom pillow journey, here are six additional options with great ratings to consider.
1. Best for injury recovery
A pillow from Noble is definitely a splurge, but if you have a serious issue thats keeping you from a good nights sleep it might be worth investing in. Noble pillows have built-in adjustability for possible future changes to your sleep preferences, and are ideal for anyone with issues such as shoulder injuries, arthritis, or breathing problems.
2. Best value
Sleep Numbers Pillow[ology] is a truly customizable experience that puts the power into your hands to choose which combo of outer shell, inner core, and protector are best for you. The downside is that youll have to do a bit more research and soul searching on what kind of pillow might suit you best, but the reward is a totally affordable option that could seriously help the way you sleep.
3. Best cool-side-of-the-pillow feel
Eight Sleeps customizable pillow works a little different from the rest. Their Ultimate Pillow comes filled with three removable layers that allows you to play around with whatever combination works best for you, two of which are insertable cushions and one thats a memory foam layer. For $200, you get a set of two pillows.
4. Best for sizing options
The customizable pillows from Headleveler come in four different sizes, which is helpful if you have a larger bed requiring king-sized pillows. I also love that they have a travel pillow option if youre on the go. Their pillows even take into consideration things like neck length, which they say is essential to getting your best sleep.
Now available to online, they used to only be available to order through a healthcare professional, and have been around for a long timeused first by chiropractic, orthopedic, and physiotherapeutic professional markets in the late 70s.
5. Best if you're looking for thickness
The Pancake Pillow puts the power in your hands every night to choose the amount of support and elevation you need with its six layers of down alternative microfiber fill. Its the perfect pillow to provide for guests as well if you arent sure what kind of support they need while sleeping.
6. Best eco-friendly option
This high-tech pillow uses 100 percent certified organic materials and claims to be carbon neutral and totally compostable, as well as allergy and mite proof. They custom make your pillow for you based on your measurements using what they call their NCI (Neck Compression Index), which tells them the exact amount of pressure you put on your pillow.
These pillows are definitely a splurge, but perfect for anyone looking for total precision when it comes to their custom pillow.