Reporter: Jackie Quist

Latex, visco elastic, polyurethane -- today's pillows sound more like science experiments.Sleep consultant Kerry Tsihrintzis, from aptly named, "Mattress and Pillow Science", has seen the humble pillow enter the space age. "The shapes of the pillows have definitely changed, we have fantastic contoured pillows", Kerry said.

"We have this beautiful visco elastic material, there are actually water filled pillows", she added.You can pay anywhere between $10 and $300 but despite the choice and the fact we spend a third of our lives sleeping on them, most of us use the wrong pillow.

And the consequences of that, can be crippling. "Certainly having the wrong pillow can be quite a significant contributing factor in headache, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain and upper back pain", said the Physiotherapists Association's Ken Niere.Ken explains how you can avoid waking up in agony no matter what you spend. "For the back sleepers the pillow should be soft enough to mould to the normal contours of the neck, it shouldn't be too high which pushes the neck into flextion or too low which lets it sink back into extension".

"For those people who like to sleep on their side, the pillow should allow a normal spinal alignment, a straight spinal alignment. If the pillow is too high it will tilt the head up away from the pillow, if it's too low the head will tilt down towards the pillow - both positions will put strain on the ligaments and the joints of the neck which can lead to problems", Ken said.And while sleeping on your stomach isn't recommended, if you must, lose the pillow altogether. "If you do sleep on your stomach take the pillow away and it does take a bit of the pressure off the neck", Ken said.

The latest high-end, hi-tech, therapeutic pillows claim to end everything from neck and back pain to allergies and snoring. ""This is fantastic for snoring and sleep apnoea patients. It has been designed by people that specialise in that field", said Kerry of the Sona Pillow which retails at $149.95

If it's luxurious comfort and support you're after, Kerry recommends THE Flexi Pillow, an all rounder which sells for $149

And for the benefits of a therapeutic pillow, for a little less, Kerry recommends the Quandra Zone Pillow at $89.95. "It's designed in a way that you still get that lovely contoured support … and gives you a lovely natural curve", Kerry said.

But remember, you don't need to break to bank to avoid breaking your neck. "The main thing about a pillow is it should be flexible enough and supportive enough to maintain the correct alignment of the neck", Ken said.

If supporting Aussie manufacturing is important to you, Dentons offer a range between $70 and $120. The family owned business supplies pillows to hotels like the Hilton and Mecure.

The company's Breidie Fisher says, "There are a lot of cheap import products on the market at the moment and you're best to buy a proper pillow with the proper science and technology that's also Australian made".Approximately 70% of our pillow market is made up of cheap imported product. Today we bought some pillows made in China for $10 each and although seemingly good value, experts claim the real cheapies should be avoided - most won't support you correctly for more than 6 months.

"You should get between four and five years out of a good pillow", Kerry said."Keep your pillow until it no longer provides the appropriate support, once you start having problems or you feel that it's not giving you the right support, then it's time to get rid of it", Ken advised.

For further information:

Mattress & Pillow Science -SOUTH CAULFIELD

313 North Rd (Corner Bambra Rd), South Caulfield 3163

T: (03) 9576 8828

Open: 10am-5pm Mon-Sun (7 days)

Mattress & Pillow Science - Surrey Hills

290 Canterbury Road, Surrey Hills 3127

T: (03) 9078 2095

Open: 10am-5pm Mon-Sun (7 days)

Dentons stockists:


Myer, David Jones, Snooze, Forty Winks, Harvey Norman, Harris Scarfe, Spotlight, BedShed