Learn About the Different Types of Pillows

Did you know that thousands of years ago, pillows were not always made for comfort? This is because the earliest types of pillows, which were used by the Chinese and by the people in Ancient Mesopotamia in 7000 B.C., were made using stone and wood. The Greeks and Romans were the ones who invented the soft pillows by using reeds, straw, and other kinds of stuffing. When the 1900s came, the pillows that we know today began to be mass-produced.

Today, pillows come in different sizes, and they are stuffed with various materials, such as feathers, foam, latex, and more. This means that we are free to choose pillows based on our personal preferences and sleeping patterns.

Did you know that pillows are as important as your mattress for sleep health and quality? However, a lot of sleepers overlook the value of a pillow and just opt for generic ones. Standard, rectangular pillows are quite supportive. However, there are also innovative pillow shapes out there that can help people ease chronic pain and other sleep conditions, which can make them sleep more comfortably. 

If you are looking into buying pillows for your home soon but can’t decide what to buy, we’re here to help you. In this post, we are giving you the different types of pillows and what each of them has to offer.

Sleeping Pillow Size Chart

Type of Pillow Size
Standard Pillow 20” x 26”
Queen Pillow 20” x 30”
King Pillow 20” x 36”

Decorative Pillow Size Chart

Type of Pillow Size
Euro Pillow 25” x 25”
Deco Pillow 20” x 20”
Deco Pillow 18” x 18”
Deco Pillow 16” x 16”
Boudoir Pillow 12” x 16”
Neckroll Pillow 6.5” x 13”

Different Types of Pillow Fillings

Here’s a list of the different types of pillow fillings that you can choose from:

white pillows

1. Down Pillows

Down pillows are luxurious and made from an ultra-soft material. Mostly, they are made from duck and goose underbellies. The material of down pillows is hypoallergenic. However, they are not suitable for those who have allergies to ducks and geese. This type of pillow requires regular fluffing, but they are very sturdy and flexible. This type of pillow is warm and cozy to use, making it great during cold nights. However, they are not very supportive. There are manufacturers that mix regular feathers for more support. However, those are less soft and warm.

When buying down pillows, you need to consider their fill power or how much down a pillow has, which is measured in cubic inches. Ideally, a fill power of 600 or higher makes the pillow high-quality and long-lasting. But pillows with high fill power are also quite expensive.

2. Feather Pillows

Compared to down pillows, feather pillows are more affordable. The feathers used are from the topcoats of duck and geese. These are durable and supportive. However, feather pillows are not very soft alone. This is why brands sometimes mix feathers with down for a cozier feel but still affordable.

In feather pillows, the feathers clump together. Therefore, they also need regular fluffing to stay comfortable and lofty. One downside is that feathers can poke through the fabric, and there are times when they release a strange smell.

3. Memory Foam Pillows

If you are looking for pain-relieving pillows, then memory foam pillows are perfect for you. This type of pillow contours well to the head and neck. It is made of a material that responds quickly to the user’s movement, cradling the curves of the body.

There are two sorts of memory foam pillows, which are shredded and blocked. The shredded kind is made of ripped-up pieces of polyurethane, which is blended occasionally with polyfill. They are moldable and soft, allowing you to adjust them to suit any sleeping position. However, they also need regular fluffing. Block memory foam, on the other hand, is made of a firm and solid piece of polyurethane. Unlike other pillows, it does not clump, and it is highly supportive.

4. Latex Pillows

Latex pillows have a soft, breathable, and supportive fill. It can give excellent pressure-point relief. In addition to that, it is also resistant to dust mites, mold, and mildew, giving you a clean sleep environment. This type is also available in shredded and block forms, just like memory foam pillows. However, people who are allergic to latex should avoid this type of pillow. 

Pillows that are made of natural latex are biodegradable and eco-friendly. When buying latex pillows, you need to ensure that they are made from 100% natural latex, as these are more durable and comfortable to use. 

5. Cotton Pillows

Cotton is a fairly common material in various bedding and fabrics. This is because it is affordable and can be maintained easily. It is a breathable material, but it does not contour to the head and neck very well. Also, over time, cotton pillows lose their firmness and go flat. But regular fluffing can prolong its life. Keep in mind that as cotton gets older, it gets prone to sweat absorption and mildew build-up. 

6. Innerspring Pillows

This type of pillow contains a steel spring inner layer and memory foam or polyester outer layer. Similar to innerspring mattresses, innerspring pillows are made for extra head and neck support. They also have good airflow, so they stay cool. However, since they have complex construction, they are also expensive.

7. Gel-Infused Pillows

Gel is not a standalone material. It is layered or added with another material, most of the time memory foam. It has a cool sensation that can reduce pressure and relieve neck pain. Pillows that are gel-infused usually have a consistent firmness. They are hypoallergenic and don’t require to be fluffed.

8. Wool Pillows

Wool is known to be a highly breathable material, and it is a soft and fluffy fill for pillows. You can choose from 100% wool or blended with other fills. However, it may not be suitable for vegan individuals since wool comes from sheep. Wool pillows are not as popular as other types of pillows as they are more expensive. They are also only allowed to be dry-cleaned. 

9. Microbeads Pillows

Microbeads or unexpanded polystyrene beads (EPS) are soft, contouring pillow fill. Many horseshoe neck pillows out there contain microbeads, and they provide great support when you sleep upright. This material is also cooling and breathable. However, there is a risk of your pillow ripping apart and the beads spilling everywhere. Also, microbeads are not eco-friendly. 

10. Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat is a plant-based fill that is popular in Asian countries. The feel and texture of buckwheat pillows are similar to microbeads. However, they are biodegradable and more durable. It is soft and comforting to the head. But the pillow can be noisy as the hulls rub against each other.

Different Pillow Shapes

In addition to rectangular pillows, there are also many curved and circular pillow shapes that are made for different purposes, like when traveling or if you are looking for full-body support.

a sample of memory foam

1. Body Pillows

Body pillows are usually rectangular in shape and can measure around 20” x 54”. There are also some body pillows that come in other shapes, such as U, L, J, and C shapes. These give different kinds of support and comfort to users. A body pillow can be used as a long head pillow. You can also sleep against it lengthwise with it between your knees for extra spine support. 

2. Horseshoe Pillows

Horseshoe-shaped pillows are also called neck pillows. They are usually used when traveling by car, train, or plane. They are small pillows that wrap around the neck to prevent the head from curving to the side and sleeping upright.

Different Pillows for Various Sleeping Conditions

Choosing the right type of pillow can help soothe the symptoms of health conditions like lower back pain, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. Here are the various types of pillows for different sleeping conditions.

1. Wedge Pillows

These are orthopedic pillows for back sleepers. They come in many sizes, but all feature an angled, triangle shape. When you sleep at an incline, it supports your back, improves blood flow, and reduces pressure on your lumbar spine. It can also help ease the symptoms of acid reflux, GERD, and obstructive sleep apnea.

2. Cervical Pillows

These are also known as rounded pillows. They are made specifically for neck and shoulder pain. They feature a divot around the neck area, and they hold the neck and head in place while sleeping to prevent the head from turning over. It helps minimize strained or stiff neck and shoulder muscles. 

3. Contour Pillows

Contour pillows feature a wavy shape, an arch under the neck area, and another above the head. It is recommended by chiropractors for side and back sleepers as it gives excellent neck support, reduces neck and shoulder stiffness, and promotes a neutral spine.

4. Bolster Pillows

Bolster pillows are also known as rolled pillows. Most of the time, they are used for decoration, but they also offer excellent neck and leg support depending on where it is placed. It can be used between or under the knees or under the neck. It aids in healthy spinal alignment and relieves pain and pressure from the neck and lumbar spine. 

5. Sleep Apnea Pillows

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea can use sleep apnea pillows. These feature cut-outs to accommodate the CPAP machine’s tubes and cords. They are also a high loft, so people won’t sleep with their heads flat. Sleeping flat can obstruct the airways and aggravate sleep apnea symptoms further.

Conclusion

Since there are many different types of pillows in the market today, taking time to choose quality pillow size, shape, and fill can help you sleep more comfortably. While mattresses are very important for spine health and comfort, the type of pillow that you choose also has as much of an impact and should be selected wisely, too. The right kind of pillow to choose depends on individual preferences, but it should help you prevent achy neck and shoulder muscles, prevent headaches, and improve the quality of your sleep. We hope this post helped you learn more about different pillow types.