Pillows affect not only the quality of our sleep, but also how healthfully we rest and recharge. Here are a few questions to ask to make sure you buy and maintain the right one.

Do you like a soft or firm pillow? 

The "loft" of a bed pillow is determined by the volume of its fill. In a firm pillow, the fill will be tighter. In a soft pillow, it will be lighter.

What size do you need?

For a twin bed, you'll most likely choose the standard size; for a queen bed, you'd want to get two queens or two standards. For a king bed, you'd get two king pillows or four standards. If you prefer a large pillow to snuggle with on a smaller bed, use a king on a twin. If you want a stack of large pillows to lean against, choose as many as is comfortable. You could easily choose four or six standard pillows for a king-size bed. Luxury hotels use four kings on a queen bed. The choice is yours.

Do you sleep on your back, side, or stomach?

The way you sleep will affect the loft of your pillow, and different positions require different types of support. The goal is to help keep your head in what is called a "neutral alignment," meaning it's sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back or forward too far. Most good-quality manufacturers give information about the best use for the type of pillow you're considering. Try out several variations to find what works for you.

  • If you sleep on your back: You'll  need less support, so your head is not thrown too far forward. Look for a pillow with extra loft in the bottom third to cradle your neck.
  • If you sleep on your side: You'll need a firmer fill to support the distance between your ear and outside shoulder while still maintaining comfort.
  • If you sleep on your stomach: Look for a very thin, almost flat pillow. You may find you don't need one for your head, but consider tucking one under your stomach to avoid lower back pain.

Are you worried about allergies?

Some people think they can't use down if they have allergies, but there are certain downs that have been specially cleaned to remove common allergens. Choose a fill that's synthetic if you're concerned — poly-cluster can be a great substitute for down, but any synthetic option can be considered hypoallergenic. And make sure you change your cases regularly.

Pillow protectors can help extend the life of your pillow. You can test whether a pillow is "dead" by seeing whether it springs back after you fold it in half. If it doesn't, it's time to get a new one.

How do you care for your pillow?

  • The general rule is to buy a pillow every 12 to 18 months. After two years, it's definitely time to replace.
  • It's important to clean pillows regularly. A good-quality one  will come with care instructions. You can launder some feather and down stuffing in a home washer;  others should be dry-cleaned. Save the cleaning instructions and follow them to ensure long life.
  • Dry and air your bedding thoroughly before returning it to your bed. Synthetic fibers will dry quickly and are relatively wrinkle-free.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, author of the upcoming book "Love Coming Home" and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer's blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.