The Different Types Of Pillows
Support is one of the most important aspects of achieving a good nights sleep. Understanding the different kinds of pillows gives you an idea of the type of support they provide and which one works best for you.
Feather pillows: Feather pillows are made of a traditional filling that’s great for providing support without losing their shape. Feather filling is an excellent option if you’re looking for a comfortable, supportive option. However, it’s important to note that many feather pillows are also filled with a small amount of down, so people allergic to down should be sure to look at the makeup of a feather pillow before purchasing.
Down pillows: Nothing beats the down pillows when it comes to softness. Down pillows are made from the soft fibers close to the skin of a goose, duck, or swan. Since these pillows are sometimes blended with feathers, be sure to look at the down to feather ratio when purchasing a down pillow.
Down Alternative pillows: Just like its name, down alternative pillows are made with a synthetic filling – most likely puffs of polyester – that is intended to mimic true down pillows. They can be good for those with down allergies as they are hypoallergenic. They’re also more likely to be cheaper than down pillows.
Memory foam pillows: You should stick with memory foam pillows if you’re looking for something that can adjust to your position throughout the night. Memory foam pillows are pain-relieving and contour well to your head and neck. The material responds to your movement quickly and cradles your curves. Some memory foam pillows let off a chemical smell called “off-gassing,” but CertiPUR-US® certified foams minimize this.
Latex pillows: Latex pillows are comparatively more breathable and snug than memory foam pillows. They are a great solution for people who fall victim to hot flashes and hot sweats in the middle of the night. Another great benefit of latex pillows is that they offer excellent neck and shoulder support. They’re naturally hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. Watch out for types of pillows labeled as latex blend pillows, the latter of which may be blended with polyurethane foam. Only pillows labeled as 100% Natural Latex will be polyurethane free.
Shredded memory foam pillows: These are very similar to memory foam pillows, except the memory foam is shredded into tiny pieces for better breathability. The reason why one would opt for shredded memory foam rather than memory foam is because it’s more moldable. Since shredded memory foam pillow filling can be added or removed depending on the individual’s preference, shredded memory foam is a good fit for nearly every sleeping preference. Some shredded memory foam pillows are hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant.
Polyester pillows: Polyester pillows sometimes referred to as poly-fill, are comparatively cheaper than memory or latex pillows. And for that reason, they’re easier to maintain, however, due to the cheaper material that poly-fill pillows are made from, they tend to absorb heat and become lumpy fairly quickly. Some studies show that a polyester pillow consists of certain chemical compounds that might raise some health concerns.
Microbead pillows: Microbead pillows are similar to buckwheat pillows in feeling, but are made with a synthetic material called uniform polymer particles. As a synthetic alternative, microbead offers lots of similar advantages like breathability and conforming to your head shape, but they may also lose their shape faster than true buckwheat pillows.
Cotton pillows: Cotton fill is a common material found in a lot of bedding and fabrics due to being affordable and easy to maintain. Cotton is breathable and soft but doesn’t contour to your head and neck very well. It also loses its firmness over time and goes flat, but regular fluffing can prolong your pillow’s life. Do note that as cotton gets older, it’s prone to sweat absorption and mildew build-up.
Wool pillows: Wool is a highly breathable, fluffy, and soft fill that helps regulate body temperature (as it does for sheep). Wool pillows tend to be very fluffy at first and then settle over time due to compression but this should not affect the support. It’s available in 100% wool or blended with other fills, though 100-percent wool is the fluffiest. Wool pillows aren’t as popular as other types, mostly because they’re more expensive and can only be dry-cleaned.
Water pillows: Water pillows, while uncommon, are an adjustable pillow type depending on the amount of water added to the pillow. Water pillows feel very consistent and aren’t vulnerable to sagging or lumping, as you can just add more water as needed. They are a bit firm and don’t contour to the shape of your head and neck. Since they’re only water, water pillows are hypoallergenic and require no fluffing, however, there’s the added risk of leaks soaking and ruining your mattress.
Gel pillows: Gel itself isn’t a standalone material, but rather is layered or infused with another material, most commonly memory foam. Similar to the water pillow, gel pillows are filled with gel and help keep the pillow cool, consistent and firm. The cool sensation of gel also reduces pressure and can relieve neck pain. Gel-infused pillows typically have a consistent firmness, don’t need to be fluffed, and are hypoallergenic. Gel filling keeps the pillow from flattening, but it can be molded or re-shaped for additional comfort.
Kapok pillows: Kapok fibers are actually the seed pod fluff of a rainforest tree called the Ceiba tree. The fibers are naturally buoyant and often used as a natural bedding filling. These fibers are hypoallergenic but can feel similar to down. They are soft, lightweight, and they’ll need to be fluffed on occasion. They should have good loft and maintain their shape as well.
Bamboo pillows: Bamboo pillows have been a rising trend in the sleep industry for a while, likely because of their antimicrobial properties and moisture-absorbing abilities. Most bamboo pillows are actually made of a shredded foam interior with a bamboo viscose shell, meaning you get the benefits of a shredded memory foam pillow with the cooling properties of bamboo.