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How to Choose a Down Pillow

by Glyn Sheridan

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Down pillows on a bed

Down provides a luxuriously soft pillow that will cradle your head in a cloud of comfort. Not all down pillows are the same, however, and your personal sleeping habits, combined with the pillow's construction, are important factors to consider when choosing a down pillow. By understanding some of the industry standards, you can compare down pillow attributes and select the best pillow for your sleep needs. Look below to learn how to choose a down pillow.

Choosing a Down Pillow:

  1. Check the "fill power". Look for the pillow's fill power when shopping. Down comes in fine clusters of tiny feathers, and higher fill numbers indicate a higher quality down pillow. A fill number of 600 indicates a standard quality pillow, while a fill number of 800 is reserved for high quality down.

  2. Find the right shell. Check the pillow shell for clues as to how long your pillow will last. Not only will tiny down clusters work their way out of a shell with a loose fabric weave, skin oils and dust can work their way into the pillow, damaging the down inside. A thread count of 300 or higher offers a smooth and durable shell. In addition, 100-percent cotton fabric offers comfort and durability.

  3. Pillows for stomach sleepers. If you are a stomach sleeper, look for a soft pillow. A soft pillow will lightly support your head, but it won't strain your neck by lifting your head too high.

  4. Pillows for back sleepers. If you prefer sleeping on your back, choose a down pillow with medium softness. While this softness might be too lofty for stomach sleepers, it offers a little more head and neck support when lying on your back.

  5. Pillows for side sleepers. If you sleep on your side, consider a firm down pillow. A firm pillow will offer adequate support for your neck and head. Although this is the general guideline, if you have narrow shoulders, a pillow of medium softness may be sufficient. The amount of distance between your bottom shoulder, as you lie on your side, and your neck will determine your pillow support needs.

  6. Think about your budget. If cost is a concern, select a blend of down and feathers. Feathers are larger than down clusters and they are readily available, reducing the cost of such pillows. To prevent feather quills from poking through the shell of the pillow, look for a feather core surrounded by down. The core provides support and loft, but the feathers stay in the center of the pillow and only the down clusters are in contact with the exterior shell.

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