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Weekend Today
updated 6/9/2007 10:10:28 PM ET 2007-06-10T02:10:28

Do you shop for your pillow based on how soft or firm it is? Well you may find it won't guarantee you a good night's rest. With so many different types and brands available, it's hard to know what you should pick. TODAY's Lifestyle Contributor and Expert Elizabeth Mayhew pinpoints what to look out for:

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Look at how you sleep
You need to take note of how you sleep. The goal is to keep the head and spine in line, so stomach sleepers need the least support, back sleepers need medium support, and side sleepers need the firmest support.

Pillow filling
What fills your pillow is a matter of personal choice. Just keep in mind that pillows do have a shelf life — you can expect a top quality goose-down pillow to last the longest amount of time (5-8 years) and synthetic pillows to last the shortest amount of time (1-3 years), but covering them with removable and washable pillow protectors will help preserve them (your case goes over the protector).

Online sources
The good news is that there is a pillow out there for everyone, and you don't always have to go to a retail store to purchase one. Many catalogs and websites like The Company Store and Cuddledown offer charts and advice to help you match a pillow to your sleep style, quality preference, and budget.

Types of sleepers:

Back sleepers
They need to bolster their neck. Use either a medium density pillow or a neck/cylinder shaped pillow under the neck (a rolled up towel also works). A pillow placed under the knees may also relieve pressure on the lower back. (Prop: Cuddledown's Down-Filled Neck Support Pillow)

Side sleepers
They need a firm pillow that fills the gap between the head and bed thereby easing the stress on the neck and shoulders. The goal for side sleepers is to keep the head and spine in a horizontal line. A pillow placed between the knees will stack the hips in proper alignment. (Prop: The Company Store's Gusseted Side Sleeper Pillow)

Stomach sleepers
They need the least support. They do best with a thin, soft pillow that lightly cushions the head at a natural angle.

How to make your pillow last:

1. The ticking (this is what encloses the filling and is none removable). Feather or down pillows usually have the tightest ticking so that feathers don't escape. This tight weave also helps keep out dust mites.

2. Pillow protectors zip over your pillows and add an extra barrier to dust mites, dirt, and sweat-best of all, they are washable. (Prop: The Company Store's Sateen Pillow Protectors) 3. To test whether you need to replace a down pillow, fluff the pillow, fold it in half and squeeze out all of the air, if it doesn't spring back, then it's time to replace

Look at what's inside a pillow:

Goose down
This tends to be the gold standard in pillow fills; fluffy cluters found on the breasts and underbellies of hte waterfowl provides superior softness, resilience and insulation.

Synthetic fill
This is less expensive than traditional down pillows. Pillow is filled with synthetic like Dacron. Fill is nonallergenic, and some of them are machine washable.

Cotton
Cotton contains no synthetics or chemicals and is nturally hypoallergenic.

Wool
It's allergy free and helps you keep warm and dry. It's also a natural barrier to dust mites and is mold and mildew resistant too.

Tempur-pedic
Dense and temperature sensitive, this material adapts to yoru shape. It's a descendant of a high-tech material develped for NASA to help astronauts tolerate extreme gravitational forces.

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