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14 Types of Pillows You Should Know

by | May 31, 2022 | Health, Pillow

We have come a long way from hard pillows crafted from stone in 7000 BC. Today, we have soft and fluffy down pillows made from bird feathers and synthetic fibres. Now, pillows are designed in shapes and stuffed with a filling that makes them suitable for a specific purpose. Let’s consider Orthopaedic pillows. These are generally made from memory foam, gel, or both combined. They are specially designed to help improve your sleep quality and offer neck pain relief.

Pillows come in different sizes and shapes. The normal pillow sizes range from Standard (20 wide x 26 long), super standard(20 wide x 28 long), queen (20 wide x 30 long), and king 20 wide x 36 long). Similarly, pillows also come in different shapes. The most common amongst them include Body pillows, U shaped, L shaped, Wedge Shaped, C shaped, horseshoe-shaped pillows. We’ll now talk about types of pillows based on the types of filling stuffed in them. First is the Body Pillow, the ultimate comfort and pain relief pillow.

1. Body Pillow

As one can surmise from its name, a body pillow offers support for your entire body. These narrow and long pillows are used as pressure relief and comfort aid and are great for pregnant women. The filling of your Body pillows can be down, or both down and feathers. Different vendors offer body pillows with different fillings, including memory foam, latex, microbeads, and polyester blend fill. Despite its many promising benefits, it takes up a lot of space and is difficult to clean.

Who should get a Body pillow?

Pregnant women, people with back pain, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, arthritis, people recovering from surgery, and people trying to correct their posture.

2. Down Pillow

Down pillow uses the chest, wing, and back feathers of birds such as a goose or a duck. These inner feathers are usually covered with another layer of feathers (outer feathers). The outer feathers typically have a waterproof coating. Down pillows made from inner feathers are much softer and fluffier and can be more expensive. The feathers are collected in two ways. They are either plucked from a bird’s bed for meat or collected after natural bird moulting. They offer very little support and aren’t hypoallergenic.

Who should get a Down pillow?

For people who move a lot when sleeping, want the luxury of soft and fluffy pillows, and to feel warm during the night.

3. Down Alternative Pillow (Synthetic)

Down pillows have a bit of an unethical side to them, especially when we talk about plucking birds’ feathers. Experts have given us a Pillow filled with a polyester blend with better benefits as an alternative to Down Pillows. These are just as soft and fluffy as down pillows but more affordable. Also, they are easier to clean. The only downside is they don’t offer the warmth of Down pillows.

Who should get a Down Alternative pillow?

People who are allergic to certain fibres or bird feathers but want to experience the benefits of Down pillow.

4. Feathers Pillow

Feather pillows are stuffed with feathers from the bird’s wing and back, the outer feathers that aren’t used in Down pillows. The bird feathers used in making Feather pillows are firmer and offer more structure to the pillow. It helps it retain its shape for a longer duration than a Down pillow. Feather pillows are cheaper than Down Pillows but not as durable. Similar to Down, it is not hypoallergenic.

Who should get a feather pillow?

People who sleep on their side or back, people who fold their pillows to fit underneath their neck or head.

5. Cotton Pillow

Cotton Pillows are stuffed with cotton filling. A cotton pillow is firmer than most pillows. Cotton, as an organic material, is naturally absorbent. It tends to compress and harden over time. Additionally, it is known to absorb sweat, making it unhygienic. It is not a great choice for people who sweat profusely. Typically, cotton pillows are hypoallergenic and cheaper than most pillows. Despite it being firm, it doesn’t offer much in the name of support.

Who should get a Cotton pillow?

People looking for hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and biodegradable (eco-friendly) pillows.

6. Latex Pillow

Latex pillows are made from latex (rubber) extracted from a rubber tree called Hevea-Brasiliensis. People prefer Latex pillows for their durability, softness, and firmness. They are also biodegradable. Look for pillows that are made from 100% natural latex. Otherwise, you might end up with latex blend pillows that aren’t as durable. They aren’t as breathable as us pillows. People with latex allergies should avoid them. Latex pillows can also be a bit heavy compared to the others.

Who should get a Latex pillow?

People looking for organic, cruelty-free, biodegradable, long-lasting, and soft pillows.

7. Memory Foam Pillow

Made from polyurethane, memory foam pillows are also known as Visco-elastic pillows. Memory foam pillows are made from chemicals that help them be responsive. When a person lays their head on a memory foam pillow, the pillow shifts, contouring your head and neck to itself. After you wake up, it will regain its original shape. They offer great support for the body, especially the spine and neck. It is not a good choice for people who sleep on their stomach. Memory foam pillows have a subtype, shredded memory foam pillow, which uses shredded memory foam to stuff the pillow. It isn’t as durable as a simple memory foam pillow and takes longer to dry.

Who should get a Memory Foam pillow?

People who have trouble sleeping, people with acid reflux, people who need neck and spine support.

8. Water Pillow

As the name suggests, the pillow, a special type, is made to be filled with water. Unlike the pillows made from feathers or other materials, it doesn’t lose their firmness regardless of the pressure applied. It is one of the most hypoallergenic options on the market. Simply removing or filling more water can help you adjust the pillow. You have to invest in a quality, leakproof water pillow. Not an ideal choice for stomach sleepers.

Who should get Water pillow?

People with chronic neck pain, people who have trouble staying asleep.

9. Wool Pillow

Wool pillows are filled with wool shorn off a sheep. It is warm and soft. Initially, it is also quite fluffy, but it flattens over time. It doesn’t lose its firmness and offers good support. It is an eco-friendly alternative. Furthermore, it is also antibacterial and antimicrobial. Wool pillows are safe from dust mites, which seem to plague the cotton pillows. And a wool pillow is also fire retardant. They can be a bit pricey and aren’t ideal for people with neck pain. They can also be difficult to clean and might have an unpleasant wool smell that some people don’t like.

Who should get Wool pillow?

People who have allergies, people who want dust mite resistant pillows with insulation, people looking for eco-friendly pillow that offers good support.

10. Kapok Fibre Pillow

Made from seed fluff of the Ceiba, a rainforest tree, Kapok pillows are as soft and light as Down pillows. As we can see, it is made from eco-friendly, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic filling, suitable for most people. Keep in mind that they are highly flammable and also a bit pricier than the other choices on this list.

Who should get a Kapok Fibre pillow?

People who are looking for non-toxic, chemical-free, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, durable, and easy to clean pillows.

11. Gel Pillow

Gel pillows are filled with Gel. They are cool, firm, and durable. They are great for warmer climates and also hypoallergenic. It is the type of pillow that a person has to try before getting it. It is not for everyone, but it does offer enough support and relieves pressure. But they don’t require much upkeep and are easy to clean.

Who should get a Gel pillow?

People who are looking for comfortable, adjustable, hypoallergenic, and cool pillows.

12. Polyester Fiberfill Pillow

These are the standard budget-friendly hypoallergenic pillows stuffed with fiberfill. Although it’s lightweight and easy to clean, it isn’t durable. Also, the fibre stuffing clumps, making the pillow lumpy and flat over time. It isn’t a breathable pillow. It can absorb body heat and will retain it. It is one of the least eco-friendly pillow types of the bunch.

Who should get a Polyester Fiberfill pillow?

People who are on a very tight budget and are looking for temporary hypoallergenic and warm pillows.

13. Buckwheat Pillow

It is filled with buckwheat hulls. They are hard shells of buckwheat seed. They offer great support for the neck and spine. Made from plants, they are bio-degradable and hypoallergenic. Buckwheat pillows are also breathable. They have a huge downside. The filling can be noisier than your standard pillow. While it may not bother many people, light sleepers should avoid getting this pillow.

Who should get a Buckwheat pillow?

People with neck and spine pain, people looking for toxin-free, brethale, odour-free, and highly durable pillows.

14. Microbead Pillow

Unexpanded polystyrene beads (EPS) is another name for Microbeads. Microbeads pillows are filled with EPS which are small styrofoam-like beads. While they aren’t commonly used in standard pillows, they are used to fill the U shaped travel pillows that allow people to sleep upright. EPS requires approximately 500 years to biodegrade, making a microbead pillow, not an eco-friendly choice.

Who should get a Buckwheat pillow?

People who need to get some sleep while travelling.


With the proper understanding of the different types of pillows available, you can make an informed choice that will help aid healthy sleeping habits. Besides helping you sleep peacefully, quality pillows have several other benefits. Some of those benefits depend solely on the types of pillows you choose.

For example, if you were to purchase organic cotton or cotton/latex blend pillow, you would get hypoallergenic and breathable pillows that offer optimal support. By providing recommendations below each pillow, we have made the tiresome process of choosing a type of pillow a teensy bit easier for you. Our informative guide to the 14 types of Pillows should help you make the right choice.

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