If you asked most people what their most important body part was, I’m guessing they would probably say their head. It’s coddled at birth, protected from impact by sturdy helmets, and shielded from the elements with all types of hats.  Given that you spend approximately thirty percent of your life asleep, your head needs a good resting place, making pillows pretty important!

There is an ever-increasing variety of options—from shape to material to size. So how does one go about choosing the right pillow for them? A lot of it depends on personal taste and budget, but if you’re in the market, here are some tips to guide you towards the perfect one.

The first thing you want to consider is how you sleep (more precisely, your regular sleep position). Back and stomach sleepers require slimmer or softer pillows so that the spine is better aligned. Side sleepers should opt for thicker, firmer styles, although this also depends, somewhat, on how broad one’s shoulders are. The more broad the shoulder, the thicker your pillow should be. It will help to keep your head elevated properly and your neck in direct alignment with the spine. Thicker pillows are also recommended to help reduce snoring.  As for those with acid reflux, breathing and digestive systems are supported at an angle to allow gravity to ameliorate those conditions. Look into contour and cervical support pillows, too, if you suffer from back or neck pain upon waking up. These specially shaped pillows can be very helpful for spinal alignment and neck support, providing stability and relief to pressure points.

There are a lot of choices surrounding what your pillow is made from as well. Classic down pillows are made from duck or goose feathers. These are decadently light, fluffy, and highly rated for comfort but are not recommended for those with a sensitivity to common allergens. Synthetic down (usually polyester) tends to help with the aforementioned problem and can be less expensive. While slightly firmer than natural down, the synthetic version can flatten a little more quickly, meaning they might need to be replaced more frequently. A good hybrid option would be wool or cotton. These naturally hypo-allergenic pillows tend to be on the firm side, have some temperature regulating properties, and last a bit longer.  Latex pillows are generally one level firmer than the last. They hold their shape and offer a lot of support but are obviously not for those with a latex allergy. Trending right now are the memory foam pillows that cradle your head and contour to the shape of each individual body. This foam is traditionally a heat-retaining material and can be off-putting for those who need more air circulation during sleep. Still, newer formulations are lighter, more breathable, and are constructed with ventilation capabilities to combat this liability. There are more intriguing innovations these days, too, such as aromatherapy and hybrid constructions that bring the best of all pillow attributes into one single model.

Lastly, as this might be the easiest decision, pillows come in a myriad of sizes. Standard sleeping pillows measure twenty inches by twenty-six, Super Standard are two inches longer, Queen another two inches, and King stretches six inches longer than that. Take into consideration your mattress size when choosing, but there are exceptions: if you sleep alone and move around a lot, a single Queen or King size pillow could serve you well, more economically, and with fewer moving parts. And please, let us remind your decorative pillows should not be used to sleep on.  Remove them from the bed before you tuck yourself in.

Like everything, pillows come at various price points, but new technology makes great ones more affordable. The best strategy is to test them in-store before buying, even if it’s just up against a wall, to get a feel for how it handles. And while a good pillow doesn’t necessarily come cheap, they’re a lot less than mattresses, so have a little fun with them. And treat yourself! Finding the perfect cradle for your crown will reward you each time you lay down, and every morning you wake up well-rested and without a crick in your neck