Would you believe if someone told you first pillows were made from stone and could only be accessed by the wealthy? Well, it’s great that stone no longer features anywhere near the materials used for making modern pillows and we all can now select the best pillow for our needs from a range of eight or so stuffing materials.
In modern times choosing a pillow is something you need to give a little more attention to because there are a number of factors you have to consider. First, you need to know what stuffing you want your pillow to have.
Secondly, you have to consider your preferred sleeping position. It’s also important to consider if you are allergic to any of the materials used in stuffing the pillows.
Now that you have an idea of the main issues involved in buying a pillow, let’s start by looking at the materials used in stuffing modern pillows.
Pillow Stuffing Options
It’s important to consider the type of stuffing you want your pillow to have because this is what will determine whether you will have a comfortable sleep or not. Your comfort depends on a number of things such as whether you prefer something soft or firm. Also, some pillow stuffing materials are made to address specific problems such as neck and back pain.
The stuffing on your pillow also determines how much it will cost. So, if you are working within a tight budget, you may discover that your choices are limited. If you have a deeper pocket, then you can enjoy the best of both worlds by selecting a pillow with more than one type of stuffing.
A memory foam pillow is manufactured from a kind of foam made specifically to provide support for the body and neck by being malleable to the shape of your body.
Foam pillows are generally heavier and thicker than pillows made from other materials. If you want a pillow which remains firm with a height that’s comparatively fixed, this is the pillow for you. It’s also the type of pillow you want to use in winter because it retains warmth as it doesn’t circulate air very well.
Best Memory Foam Pillow – Comfylife
If your idea of a good night’s sleep is resting your head on a flexible but firm pillow, you may want to try the Comfylife memory pillow. The pillow’s wave design is specifically made to make sure that it supports and cradles the head, neck, and shoulders. It’s also been made to suit your needs whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach.
Considering that memory form can get hot during summer, the pillow’s biomechanically correct design and bamboo cover is made to offer cooling capacity. The manufacturers of this pillow have made it antimicrobial and resistant to allergens.
- Alleviates neck ache
- Firmness provides great support
- Affordable for someone working within a tight budget
- Great for people with allergies
- Too firm for someone who prefers soft
- Smell takes time to clear
Shredded Memory Foam
Shredded memory foam is the right pillow filling for you if you want the qualities of memory foam but still looking for a pillow that’s moldable. The foam is torn into many small pieces which have the capacity to move independently.
So if you ever get frustrated by your single piece memory foam as you turn and toss through the night, you may want to try this type of pillow. You can push the memory form to the two ends and create a dip in the center where you’ll lay your head if you prefer. This quality makes it a great material for someone who sleeps in different positions.
Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow – Plixio Deluxe
The Plixio Deluxe memory foam pillow is infused with cooling gel; ideal if you want to sleep cool. The bamboo pillowcase material ensures good air circulation and makes it easier to wash. This pillow is designed with the specific objective of providing relief for sleeping problems including a migraine, allergies, back pain, and snoring.
- Good for side sleepers
- Bamboo material helps resist allergens and dust mites
- Easy to mold into the desired shape
- Too thick for someone looking for something lower
As the name suggests, the filling in this type of pillow is buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat is favored as a pillow filling for someone who suffers from allergies when using other materials. The material neither reflects nor conducts heat well. The major advantage of pillows made from this type of material is that they are adjustable and offer great support.
While this type of material would be great for someone looking for a durable and adjustable pillow, they can also be too firm, heavy, and also noisy. These pillows also tend to be more expensive although this is not always the case.
Best Buckwheat pillow – Magnolia
The Magnolia Buckwheat pillow is ideal for you if you’re looking for the therapeutic qualities offered by this type of material. It’s also the ideal pillow for someone looking for a pillow that can be shaped according to the contours of their neck and body while also providing different levels of support.
This is a great pillow for a warm night because it retains less heat. Even though buckwheat is famous for being very expensive, it’s certainly not the case with this particular pillow.
- Cooling effect ensures you never have to flip it
- Not suitable for stomach sleepers
- Big enough to provide great neck support
- In the beginning, the noise can be irritating
- Too firm for someone looking for softer pillow
Gel is used as a material in pillows in response to the fact that memory foam has a tendency of getting hot because it traps heat. The layer of gel generally ensures that the body heat generated by your body is drawn away from you.
The gel used in this type of pillow usually depends on the manufacturer, with several of them having their own proprietary brands. Consequently, some are better than others.
Best Gel Pillow – Beckham
The Beckham gel pillow is a great product if you’re looking for two qualities: soft and cool. The pillow’s flexibility also makes it a great product for someone who sleeps on different sides.
Even though the pillow is on the soft side, it’s still firm enough to offer good support. The gel in the pillows also makes them great for use on a hot summer night; you’ll never have to flip the pillow over. This is an ideal pillow for someone who wants a large pillow.
- Cool for hot days
- The gel ensures they keep their shape for longer
- Too thick for a short neck
- Slippery if you move around a lot
Latex pillows are made from material obtained from a tree known as Hevea-Brasilienis; popularly referred to as the rubber tree. In recent times, latex has become a popular material for making pillows because of its durability and its capacity to offer support.
Pillows made from this material are often presented as being natural and safe because latex doesn’t have a lot of chemicals added to it. Latex pillows can come either blended with other materials of just natural. The natural pillows would be suitable if you suffer from allergies.
Best Latex Pillow –
With up to 95 percent natural latex, the YiiMO latex pillow can claim to be natural with confidence. The contour ridge on this pillow makes it great for you if you’re looking for relief from neck and shoulder pain.
This pillow is not only eco-friendly, its perforations ensure air moves in and out easily; preventing any dampness that could lead to bacteria, dust mites, and mold.
- Good for people allergic to synthetic materials
- Latex smell is not harmful to health
- Good for someone looking for a firm pillow
- Even though latex smell is not harmful, it’s pretty strong in the beginning
Wool is one material that’s been used in making pillows for a long time because apart from being warm, it provides a number of other advantages such as being free from chemicals. It’s also a sustainable method of making pillows that don’t destroy the environment. This is the reason why this type of pillow would be great for someone who cares about both their own health and that of the environment.
Wool pillows provide great support and comfort, especially those with zippered covers as you can open them and remove some wool if your pillow happens to be too thick.
Best Wool Pillow – Paragon
The Paragon wool pillow comes with a zippered cover so that you can remove any extra wool to arrive at the most comfortable size for your needs. This is a pillow suitable for you if you don’t want a pillow with too much synthetic material.
- No off gases to irritate your nostrils
- Zippered cover allows you to create your own pillow
- Peanut sized wool balls can be lumpy and uncomfortable
- Smells like sheep in the beginning
Further/Down pillows are filled with the upper and inner covering of geese or ducks. Feathers form the layer that makes it possible for the animal to fly. Down, on the other hand, is the layer underneath the feathers which is softer and keeps the bird warm. Compared to Down, feathers are less expensive but don’t come with as much comfort.
Both feathers and down make great filling material for someone who sleeps well in different sleeping positions. You’ll also like them if you want a pillow you mold into different shapes.
Best Down/Feather Pillow – Homelike Moment
The Homelike Moment down feather pillow would be best for you if you are looking for a combination of softness and support. Support in the inner part of the pillow is provided by feathers while the outer part, filled with down, provides comfort. This pillow provides a solution if you don’t want any of these materials that make a sound when you turn around.
- Down makes the pillow fluffy
- Can be molded into the shape you want
- Soft but firm enough
- No possibility to increase the filling if too flat
- Some spaces have feathers poking on your head
There are no prizes for guessing that water pillows are filled with water. Essentially, this is a sealed plastic container shaped like a pillow. This plastic container can be covered with different materials including down or foam.
Water is becoming popular as a filling for pillows because the firm support it provides does not change. Some designs allow you to remove or increase water to a thickness of your choice.
Best Water Pillow – Chiroflow
The Chiroflow water pillow is your solution if you suffer from neck pain; the reason why it’s recommended by chiropractors. The pillow can be filled with ordinary tap water up to the firmness level you require.
The outer cover is made from hypoallergenic polyester to provide added comfort. Because this pillow can be filled to a firmness of your choice, it is great for side, back, and stomach sleepers.
- Consistent loft which can be adjusted
- Can be adapted to different sleeping positions
- Heavy when filled to the maximum
- Compartment with water makes a noisy sound
Things to Consider When Buying a Pillow
Now that you have an idea of the different fillings that go into pillows, I’m sure you have an idea of the one that would be most suitable for you. However, before you click that checkout button, you still have to consider one more thing: your sleeping position.
You’ve probably noticed that the different pillows I’ve reviewed above have different thicknesses. The reason behind this is that different sleeping positions require different sizes of pillows. Generally, as a side sleeper, your pillow needs to be thicker. On the other hand, if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, you would want a thinner pillow and back sleepers may want something in-between.
Whatever the case, your pillow needs to allow your neck to be in alignment with your position when you’re sleeping. If you have no idea of the side you mostly prefer to sleep in, then you may want to get a pillow which allows you to remove or add filling to create a pillow suitable for your needs.
Sleeping on the side is the most common sleeping position and is also considered the best positions for your neck and back. As a side sleeper, you would prefer a pillow that’s thicker in order to have enough space between the mattress and your head. However, you still need to ensure the pillow, is thick enough to keep your spine straight but not too thick to end up bending the neck.
Best pillow for side sleepers – BioSense
BioSense 2-in-1 Shoulder Pillow for Side Sleepers is thick enough to provide the right body alignment. It’s designed to be soft while still being supportive. The perforation patterns are included to ensure that the pillow allows air to move freely. It’s designed in a way that conforms to the contours of your head and neck.
- Soft enough to take the shape of your head
- Alleviates shoulder and pain
- High-quality materials make it durable
- Too firm for someone who wants very soft
- Thick cover lumps after washing
- Weird smell when still new
A back sleeper is someone who mostly prefers sleeping on their back. This is the second most common position. As a back sleeper, the most suitable pillow for you will be one that elevates your head high enough, supporting your head without bending it too high. Again, if your pillow happens to be too thin, you head ends up tilting too low.
When you’re sleeping on your back, the best pillow is one that’s malleable. This allows you to change the shape of the pillow to attain a comfortable position.
Best pillow for back sleepers – Bluewave
The Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow is thin and flat to ensure that your head doesn’t tilt either too high or too low when you’re sleeping on your back. It’s also an ideal pillow if you want a pillow that doesn’t allow heat to build up excessively.
- Certipur-US Certified Foam means the pillow is safe
- Cover is designed to wick moisture from the skin
- Minimal odor even when new
- Too firm
Even though sleeping on your stomach is something that should be avoided because it makes it difficult to maintain a proper spinal position, many people still do. Sleeping in this position for extended periods of time puts pressure on your neck and back.
If this is your sleeping position, you will want a pillow that’s thin. A pillow which allows you to remove some filling is great for this sleeping position. If you experience some discomfort, you may also want to place another pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to attain some alignment.
Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers – TruContour
The TruContour Soft Super Thin Memory Foam Gel Pillow for Stomach sleepers is specifically designed to be extremely thin and have low profile, to ensure spinal alignment when you sleep on your stomach. This pillow would be great for you if you prefer a soft pillow.
The pillow comes with a full year warranty, showing that the manufactures have faith in this product. If it doesn’t work for you within the first year, they are willing to give you a new one.
- Good air circulation prevents heat build up
- Zippered cover makes it easy to wash
- Small enough to be a travel pillow
- Sharp smell when still new
While there is a great deal of information to digest in this article, I’m sure you now have an idea of the pillow that’s best for your needs. It’s important to note that a pillow that may have been great for you last year may not necessarily still be the best this year. After looking at all the pillows in this review, my clear winner will be the Paragon wool pillow.
I like Paragon pillow because of its zippered cover which allows me to either add or remove the filling to create a perfect pillow for any sleeping. I may be a side sleeper now, but who knows, I may want to sleep on my back or stomach sometimes which might require my pillow to be a little thinner. I also like the fact that the source of wool, as a raw material, is sustainable.