Recommendations for a soft, flat-ish pillow?
June 1, 2015 11:50 PM   Subscribe

I need to replace my old pillow, but I'm having trouble finding one that I like. How hard could it be to find a nice, reasonably-sized pillow? Apparently really hard. Everything I find in the store is huge and overstuffed, which makes me feel like I'm sleeping with my head tilted all night and make my neck hurt. I've tried memory foam and I'm on the fence since I am used to a softer pillow. I'm going to keep using the memory foam for now, but in the meantime, give me your soft, flat pillow recommendations! I tend to sleep on my side and back, for more context.
posted by lockstitch to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The reason the pillows in the store are so large is that when you start using them, they crunch down and stop being so big. If you bought one which suited you exactly when it was new, in six months you'd be complaining because it was too thin.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:57 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you tried soft, flat stuffed animals?
posted by aniola at 12:06 AM on June 2, 2015

Have you tried out some throw pillows? They are smaller around than bed pillows but are likely to be flatter. Fabric stores will have some pillow forms that are meant to be covered with a sewn cover but you could just throw one in a pillow case and try it out.
posted by Beti at 12:14 AM on June 2, 2015

Memory foam gets softer over time. Try throwing it in the dryer for several hours.
posted by Phssthpok at 12:27 AM on June 2, 2015

I really love tempur pillows and use a small one, its quite small... I don't need much pillow- I've even used a scrunched up sock before if I was in a hotel with far to big pillows. My tempur small is great, I once had my neck strained playing vollyball on vacation and the second I got home and had a nights sleep on that pillow it was vastly improved the next day. It even acts as a nice bolster pillow if I roll it up. I love that tempur pillow so much that when I got pregnant and huge I decided not to get the snoogle, but 2 more tempur pillows- a larger one of the one I had and a flatish body pillow. They work to put my feet up, they are just heavy enough to stay on the bed even if I turn, I rested my hand on it when I had an IV in and was sore, and I use them in front of the TV on the sofa.
posted by catspajammies at 12:49 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: Feather pillows! I've had mine since childhood and I've just never understood other pillows. They are flat, super comfy, and last forever. Get a pillow protector to prevent feathers from working their way out and poking you/getting in your hair.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:37 AM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

I know it's weird but I really like the cheap store-brand pillows from Fred Meyer. I like the "firm" ones because they kind of un-firm after about a month and settle into more "medium". I usually use two to get the right height and shape, but they're definitely flatter and are easily scrunched for things like neck and back support. And they're of a price range that I don't feel weird about getting a bunch or replacing them every few years.
posted by Mizu at 2:56 AM on June 2, 2015

I'm like you and if I weren't allergic to feathers, I'd love feather pillows. As is, I think I need to go to a craft store and check out pillow forms (maybe kids/doll pillows?) as possible replacements for my tempurpedic. Which is OK but still not great.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:44 AM on June 2, 2015

I'm like you. Anything more than slightly above flat and I wake up with a headache. Most hotels I stay in I have to revert to folding a towel to use as a pillow.
Believe it or not the best pillow I've found for near flatness is the Ikea $2 pillow. Don't know what they're officially called, but they cost $2 and are sold rolled up in a plastic sleeve.
posted by newpotato at 4:20 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just realized I have a few backups of them on a shelf...they're called the "SLAN" pillow.
posted by newpotato at 4:21 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding IKEA pillows. Perfect intersection of softness & flatness.
posted by sarajane at 4:54 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have your searches so far been confined to discount stores or a lower price-point? I've found a much better selection at places like (God forgive me) Bed, Bath and Beyond. The fill materials in better pillows are obviously different from the cheapies you'll find at Target or similar.

Switching from side to back is a bit of a challenge because the distance from head to shoulder is not like the distance from head to spine. If you use a thin pillow then you might need to fold it in half to get enough support when you're on your side.
posted by jon1270 at 5:00 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: Buy a feather pillow, open a seam a little bit, take out feathers until the pillow is a bit fluffier than the pillow you have (it'll flatten out further over time), then sew up the seam. That's what I did when it was way past time to replace my husband's flat pillow.
posted by Elsie at 5:03 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Coming in to say what Elsie said above. Old down pillows absolutely work the best for me and if I ever had to replace the ones I have I would do what she said. I take one with me whenever I travel.
posted by mareli at 5:16 AM on June 2, 2015

I don't like big hard pillows either. I just buy the cheapest, flattest pillow at Target. They cost about $5.00 and they usually have them in a big bin. When it gets too flat I just buy a new one.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:17 AM on June 2, 2015

Old/flattened down pillows are the only pillows my miserable battered neck can handle. The best ones I have were loose-filled to begin with but have, after a couple of years as couch throw pillows and side-sleeping clutch pillows, become the flopsy ideal that I need. I guess you could buy a secondhand down one somewhere but that feels kind of icky, so I agree with the above suggestion of just pulling out some of the fluff from a new pillow.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:17 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: A feather-type pillow is infinitely adjustable, making it easy to switch between side and back. If you are allergic to down, or object to it, Primaloft makes an excellent synthetic fill. Selection from
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:20 AM on June 2, 2015

We had good luck with IKEA for this; they have a range of firmnesses including one that's quite flat.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:29 AM on June 2, 2015

Nthing down pillows, which can be fluffed up to the right height. I got mine at Bed Bath & Beyond. I also sleep on my side, and I have narrow shoulders, so almost all pillows are too deep for me. Once, when I injured my neck, a physical therapist also recommended an orthopedic pillow like this, though I didn't actually try it.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:09 AM on June 2, 2015

My family member who likes a thin pillow was happy to be given the slender pillow from the Vermont Country Store.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 8:15 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like to sleep on a flat pillow also, because Reasons, so this traveler's pillow from Kmart is a winner for me.
posted by Lynsey at 11:02 AM on June 2, 2015

I like the cheapish pillows at Costco. Not very good quality but that means that they quickly loose their too-thickness into something I really like. They usually last about a year before I don't like how they feel anymore, and then I just go get a new one for under $20
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2015

The Slender Bed Pillow from Vermont Country Store is nice and might be exactly what you're looking for. I've been very happy with mine for addressing the same problem.
posted by Lexica at 4:39 PM on June 2, 2015

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