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Panda’s hybrid bamboo pillow gave us the support we needed in every sleeping position

The Independent logo The Independent 26/09/2022 Emma Henderson

Sleep is one of those magical things – it just seems to happen. Until it doesn’t. It’s then you realise how much you take it for granted, when you can’t seamlessly drift off to the land of nod. After sleepless nights, life becomes overwhelming – the smallest thing can send you over the edge. And when you’re tired, exhausted and running on near empty, you can think spending money on anything sleep related can help.

We know that’s not always the case, though. We spend a third of our time on Earth sleeping, which is a huge part of our lives, regardless of the fact we’re not awake for it. How we sleep, our surroundings and comfort do matter. You just need to find what’s right for you.

If you’d asked me a few years ago about my pillow, it would have been a fairly short conversation. And not just because it’s a topic that’s unlikely to start any sort of engaging chat, but I didn’t really have an opinion on my pillows. I bought them goodness knows when (I hate to think it was when I was going to uni), and that’s what I slept on.

But now, I feel I know my pillows. I also know what I like and what I don’t, and I’m no longer just indifferent. A pillow was a pillow in my mind. How wrong I was.

After initially thinking I’d prefer a soft pillow to something that had any sort of memory foam type feel to it, I realised I wasn’t getting enough support when it came to resting my weary head. I’ve now tested a few pillows from some of the big bed-in-a-box brands, so I know what comfort and support works for me.

How we tested

I’ve been using this as my only pillow, instead of another firmer pillow from a bed-in-a-box brand, for more than three weeks. Thanks to our bizarre climate, it’s been very hot and much cooler within a short space of time. I’ve even taken it to other people’s houses as well as a hotel, to ensure I could keep testing.

Panda London hybrid bamboo pillow

© Provided by The Independent

Design

The pillow is a real tech step up from your average feather or microfibre offering. Instead, this has five layers to it, and follows in the footsteps of the bed-in-a-box pillow brand that is bringing innovation to the forefront of our most basic everyday products. This means the pillow is certainly not small and not particularly light. It’s pretty hefty, making travelling with it a bit of a pain.

Panda’s USP is using bamboo, so, naturally, the external cover is made from it. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, making it a viable material to use en mass, and Panda only uses organically grown bamboo from managed forests.

The pillow’s cover is very soft to the touch and, perhaps more importantly, it’s hypoallergenic, making it friendly to those prone to allergies or with sensitive skin. The exterior is 100 per cent bamboo, while the combination filing is 80 per cent bamboo, and 20 per cent recycled polyester. It’s machine washable and has a little concealed zip, so it can be easily removed and put in the washing machine.

Read more: The Panda memory foam bamboo pillow is a cool and comfy remedy for neck pain

There is foam inside the pillow, but put to bed any preconceived misconceptions you might have about this material. It’s no longer extremely dense and more akin to something you’d expect a child’s booster seat to be made out of. Insead, this core is made from charcoal-infused memory foam that has ‘give’ in it, and is still quite soft when squeezed. It’s designed to mould to your sleeping style, and Panda says the charcoal promotes airflow and spreads heat around, which we found mostly to work.

Lastly, the pillow comes with an impressive 10-year guarantee. There’s a QR code on the box, so you can register the pillow to be covered.

Performance

I’m going to get a little bit Goldilocks and the Three Bears here – not too hot, not too cold, just right! But the pillow, being hybrid, is designed to be a middle-of-the-road product. Not in quality, of course, but in design and performance, so it appeals to a wider audience. As, in reality, no one is really just one type of sleeper, as we all move about during the night. You might fall asleep in one position, but then wake in another – or at least I do. And it’s not like I’m going to reach for different pillows during the night. I need an all-rounder.

The pillow is super soft on the exterior, which is the thinner jacket layer (mentioned above) made from very soft bamboo. In its entirety, the pillow has a slightly fluffy feeling about it while still having a proper stable structure to it.

Read more: Soak&Sleep’s Hungarian goose down pillow gave us that five-star feel

Instead, it has body, where the core is firm, but not solid, meaning it’s still able to properly support my neck and spine. The pillow doesn’t compact down to be completely substanceless either – i.e., my head doesn’t end up essentially lying flat on the bed and giving me neck ache.

I’m a front or side sleeper, and, using this pillow, I feel like my head is no longer practically on the bed, as it was with much softer pillows. Instead, it’s slightly raised, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve got two chunky pillows, nor is my neck forced to be at a very awkward or uncomfortable angle.

Read more: This pillow from The White Company is filled with shredded memory foam, so we just had to try it

What I like most about it, is that there’s a little ‘give’. So it feels like you’re resting on a cloud once you lie down on it, with a little sinkage that’s still supportive. The core middle provides sturdy support that most feather or microfibre only pillows just cannot offer – or if they do, it soon dissipates as time goes on and it loses structure.

When it comes to breathability, about which Panda has quite big claims, I did wake up one morning quite hot and had to do the classic pillow flip to get the cooler side. But that’s only been one night out of the entire time I’ve been testing it, so I don’t think it’s a long-term problem.

Buy now £89.95, Independent.co.uk

The verdict: Panda hybrid pillow

While I certainly don’t advise the hybrid pillow to be used in any sort of pillow fight, as it’s pretty hefty, the change in support and comfort is instantly noticeable. My head and neck are properly supported.

Although it claims to help airflow, I did wake up a bit warm once, which ended up in me flipping the pillow for the cool side, but it’s not a regular occurrence. I was disappointed the pillow was wrapped in plastic though, considering the bamboo eco-credentials and the rest of the packaging is plastic-free, including the box handle.

Overall, it’s a super comfy and supportive pillow that caters to my ‘hybrid’ needs of moving around. Pillows have really taken a step up in terms of technology, and with that comes a high price too, but this one has firmly taken root on my bed.

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