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Knowing how to choose a pillow can make a real difference in the quality of your sleep.

Synthetic pillows can provide the same level of comfort as pricier pillows with natural stuffing but what else should you know? Are there alternative materials that you don’t know about?

Find out in this guide!

How Do You Choose The Right Pillow?

As a rule of thumb, you need a pillow that supports your spine and neck in a neutral position. That means your neck shouldn’t be higher or lower than your back.

The wrong pillow will result in neck pains the next day! And then, you’ll be looking for the best massage chair!

Consider these 2 factors when choosing a pillow for yourself:

1. Sleeping Position

  • Stomach – You can probably get away without having a pillow! If you need one, then get a low and soft pillow that is highly compressible.
  • Side – High pillows with medium firmness will be your best friend! Being able to fluff them is a bonus!
  • Back – Go for soft to medium firmness; Flatter pillows are better than higher pillows.
Back And Stomach Sleepers Don't Need High pillows
Back And Stomach Sleepers Don’t Need High pillows

2. Mattress Type

Have you found the best mattress in Malaysia for you yet?

It might surprise you to know that your pillow type should actually contrast with the feel of your current mattress or sofa bed.

For example, you should pair a firm mattress and soft pillow and a soft mattress with a firm pillow.

Pillows Should Complement Your Mattress
Pillows Should Complement Your Mattress

Types Of Pillows

Different types of pillows have different properties with them. And this matters if you’re trying to find a particular pillow feel to go with your mattress or if you know what you prefer in a pillow.

 Because knowing the types of pillows that best fit your requirements will narrow down the search in the saturated pillow market!

Sometimes, you can find hybrids of pillows that have more than one type of fill too.

These are all the types of pillows that you might see in Malaysia:

  1. Synthetic/ Poly-fill – Cheapest of all pillow types; Will flatten over time; Soft-Medium
  2. Cotton – Flat but firm; Naturally hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
  3. Down – Goose or duck feathers; Goose down is softer; Not always 100% natural; Has a slow sinking feel
  4. Memory Foam – Excellent support that’s evenly distributed; Tends to feel warm.
  5. Latex – Firmer than down or cotton pillows; Not fluffy or malleable.
  6. Bamboo fiber – BreathableOften not 100% bamboo fibers but filled with shredded memory foam; Chemical-intensive process to turn the bamboo fibers into rayon.
  7. Wool – Moisture-wicking, hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant; Quite firmDurable
  8. Kapok – Cruelty-free; Feels like feather pillows; Biodegradable; Prone to lumping
  9. Buckwheat hulls – all-natural, very firm, not widely available in Malaysia yet
Do You Want A Pillow That Sinks And Holds Its Shape
Do You Want A Pillow That Sinks And Holds Its Shape

A common question you might have:

Synthetic Vs Organic Pillows

What are the benefits of synthetic pillows over organic pillows and vice versa?

There’s something to be said about that attractive low price range that comes with synthetic pillows! But they have other benefits besides their lower prices.

Benefits Of Synthetic Pillows

  • No animal products involved
  • Likely machine washable
  • Better support (i.e memory foam)

But on the other hand, the more expensive organic pillows usually have more benefits:

Benefits Of Organic Pillows

  • Longer lifespan
  • Less chemicals
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Cool to the touch
  • Breathable
  • Naturally hypoallergenic (latex)
  • Biodegradable

And if you sleep without air conditioning, we think having an organic pillow makes a world of a difference on hot nights!

Memory Foam Pillows Can Imitate The Feel of Latex Pillows
Memory Foam Pillows Can Imitate The Feel of Latex Pillows

When You Should Change Your Pillow (Pillow Life Span)

It could be that you don’t even need to change your pillow yet. Maybe all it needs is some time in the sunshine or some fluffing.

But generally, it’s time to change your pillow when it:

  • Is no longer comfortable
  • Has multiple stains
  • Smells weird (and sunning doesn’t remove the smell)
  • Doesn’t go back to its shape when you fold it
  • Is possibly causing breakouts in your skin!

However, experts recommend that you should change your pillow every 1-2 years as body oil, dust mites and bacteria can breed in your pillow over time.

Pillow Lifespan

In general, feather and down pillows can last up 5-8 years. While synthetic pillows last 2 years.

Note: You should be changing your pillow sooner anyways (Every couple years)!

Looking After Your Pillow

This depends on the type of pillow you have but:

Like turning your mattress once in a while, there are certain things you can do that will prolong the life of your pillow!

  • Wash your pillow every 3 months (i.e. or sun it out in direct sunshine)
  • Change your pillowcase every 2 weeks

Note: Don’t wash your pillows too often! The fibers will break down. Feather pillows cannot be washed. Dry clean them instead.

Related: How to prolong the life of your mattress.


Many things should be taken into consideration besides price when choosing a pillow. Such as your sleeping habits and preferences.

Attractive features include organic materials, easy care, versatility and affordability! Different pillow brands may carry both natural and synthetic pillow types too.

See our recommendations for the best pillows in Malaysia.


Janice is the founder & editor for Wanted to be an author as a kid, got a D in English (First Language), but somehow now a content writer with an engineering background. Bakes, does yoga, plays the piano, reads, and most other introverted indoor hobbies.