Healthy Sleeping Habits

I Tried the First Fully-Customized Pillow, and It Gave Me Hours More of Uninterrupted Sleep

Gina Vaynshteyn

Photo: Pluto Pillow
Not to be dramatic, but if I don't get at least eight hours of sleep I'm a nightmare to be around. Even if I'm in bed by 10 p.m., falling asleep and staying asleep has been totally unpredictable if not impossible sometimes because, well, *gestures broadly at the world around us*. I've tried melatonin, cutting myself off from caffeine after lunch, reading before bedtime, avoiding working from bed, exercising earlier in the day, and hiding my phone so I'm not tempted to scroll. I tried all the things to help me sleep, but nothing worked consistently—until I started to inspect what I was sleeping on.

I knew I could try out a new mattress, but before I shelled out that kind of money, I was curious to see if making a change in pillows could help. After all, we already know that pillows that effectively support our bodies during rest can be majorly beneficial. "Proper spine alignment, comfort, and in some cases temperature control, all sum to help improve sleep quality. Choosing a pillow that is right for your body and sleeping position is essential," Chris Winter, MD, sleep specialist at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine, previously told Well+Good.

Depending on what position you sleep in is vital in choosing the right pillow for you: Whether you're a back, side, or stomach sleeper should be taken into consideration when picking out a pillow. The same goes for how hard or soft you like your pillow to be—it all comes down to personal preference. However, is it possible that we're missing some key components when we're pillow shopping? Customization we're not taking into consideration? This is what's special about Pluto, the first-ever customizable pillow brand.

Pluto takes the guesswork out of pillow shopping, and instead, creates custom pillows based on your needs (as well as preferences). This combination of what you need and what you want is what differentiates Pluto from the hundreds of existing pillow brands and offerings. Instead of doing hours of research yourself (whether that entails scrolling through hundreds of reviews or physically going to a store and testing out pillow after pillow), Pluto has you take a two-minute quiz that generates an individualized pillow.

How the Pluto Pillow works

Pluto will first ask you to fill out some key information about yourself: Your age, height, weight, what material your current pillow is made of (and its height when not compressed), what position you prefer to sleep in, and how soft or firm you generally prefer your pillow to be.

 

pluto pillow quiz

 

pluto position quiz

 

pluto temp quiz

Next, this data is fed to the brand's proprietary algorithm which informs what kind of pillow is best for your body. There are currently 35 variations of pillow type (And just an FYI, Pluto claims this information is confidential and will never be sold.)

What happens next: You're shipped your customized pillow within seven business days, and you have 100 days to return it if it's not right for you.

What is the Pluto Pillow made from?

Pluto pillows are crafted with a solid foam core and encased with an outer plush pillow. The density of the foam core and material of the outer pillow is completely dependent on how you answered the pillow questionnaire. For example, if you told Pluto your head gets hot at night, your pillow cover will be constructed of cooling fibers to cool you down as you sleep. If you answered your current pillow is on the harder end and you're happy with that, your foam core will be more firm. Every pillow will feel different for everyone, which is the goal.

pluto foam

I slept with my Pluto Pillow for two months: These are my honest thoughts

As a side sleeper who prefers a plush, medium-firm pillow, I received a pillow that felt like the best of all worlds. The outer cover was soft and cloud-like, yet when I rested my head on it, my head and neck didn't sink to the mattress like how it does with my fluffier pillows. The Pluto pillow is denser, yet I don't feel like I'm sleeping on a rock, either. Since I have lower back pain (I hunch when I work at my desk), I realized a couple years ago that sleeping on a harder pillow is a must if I didn't want to wake up feeling like I spent the previous day carrying 100-pound boxes up a flight of stairs. Comfort-wise, the pillow meets my needs. And if you're wondering: No, the foam didn't stink (sometimes foam pillows come with a temporary plastic-y smell, but that wasn't the case with mine).

As someone who likes to cuddle up with two-to-three pillows, I tested the Pluto pillow by itself first. While I worried this would feel weird (can one feel pillow lonely?), I found the plushness was more than enough, and I didn't feel the aching need to supplement with more pillows. After a few weeks, I noticed myself falling asleep faster, and actually staying asleep (unless I decided to chug two cups of water before bedtime, but that's totally on me).

After Mission Solo Pillow was complete, I added to the mix. I combined the Pluto pillow with my fluffy down variety I had slept with in my previous pre-Pluto life. I slept with Pluto on the bottom, and placed the squishier pillows on top. Even though my other pillows provide zero support whatsoever, using Pluto as a foundation still helped my neck and shoulders feel supported throughout the night, and I actually fell asleep even faster (and stayed asleep).

Sleeping with Pluto alone as well as Pluto alongside my other pillows helped with my back pain, too. I woke up feeling more agile, and experienced less aches throughout the day. The takeaway? Pluto is a big win in my book.

How much does a Pluto Pillow cost?

The standard size (24 inches by 16 inches) starts at $95, and the king size (34 inches by 16 inches) is $115. Every pillow ships free of charge.

Pluto Pillow is the first of its kind—and here's why

For someone who's tested dozens of various pillows (some very fancy and expensive), it's interesting that a more customized experience hasn't come sooner. The founder of Pluto Pillow, Susana Saeliu, agrees, telling Well+Good that the motivation behind launching her company came from a personal place: She was experiencing neck pain, and couldn't find a pillow to help.

"I was trying to solve my own neck woes. After learning that getting a better pillow that’s better suited for me can help, I launched into intense research mode—learning about what’s best for my sleep positions, going into retail stores and squeezing pillows with my hands, reading what seemed like hundreds of dizzying Amazon reviews. I found the shopping experience and available options really frustrating. After buying and returning seven different pillows, I knew that there had to be a better way," says Saeliu.

We spend so much time researching mattresses (and spending so much money!), why don't we give pillows the same amount of attention? Saeliu's goal with Pluto is that pillows become more of a priority when we think about the tools we need to sleep. The mattress game has changed—and the pillow one should, too. "With the launch of several bed-in-a-box companies over the past several years, they have changed the way we shop for beds. However, pillows continued to be more of an afterthought—a product sold alongside the mattress—with many of these same brands offering one-size-fits-all pillows. Adjustable pillows didn’t quite do the trick either as they were cumbersome and wasn’t very precise," she said.

What's more, is that what's "firm" in one store, may be too firm for you—or not firm enough. The same goes with softness. There had to be a better solution. "My co-founder [Kevin Li] and I then approached the process with a lot of curiosity and wanted to bet on offering a level of custom that was unprecedented in pillows—and do so in the scalable way," says Saeliu.

As a whole, Pluto has been met with a lot of success. On its site, it has a 4.8 out of 5 stars, and 1,132 5-star ratings you can read here. As we continue to optimize our sleep and allow algorithms to maximize personal comfort, it'll be a shock to absolutely nobody if more and more customizable pillow brands began popping up on the market. For now, I give Pluto my full blessing and will continue to use it.

Sweet dreams are made of, as it turns out, the curiosity for a better pillow market.

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