Pillows support your head and neck while you sleep and keep your spine aligned. Today pillows are used as ornaments, for medical purposes, travel accessories, and whatnot. In this article, we have listed 16 different types of pillows based on their fillings and a lot more things that you should know before buying a pillow.
Different Types of Pillows
Below are 16 different types of pillows based on different types of pillow stuffing. We’ve also mentioned the pros and cons of these bed pillows to help you figure out the best one based on your needs.
1. Down Pillow
A Down pillow is made from the down of ducks, swans, and geese. They are suitable for all body positions.
- It is extremely durable. A well taken care of down pillow can last 10-15 years.
- It is exceptionally soft and warm.
- It requires regular fluffing to maintain its form.
- It cannot be confirmed if the down feathers are plucked ethically.
Best For : Stomach sleepers looking for an extremely soft pillow.
2. Down Alternative Pillow
A Down Alternative pillow is made from synthetic fiber like polyester to replicate the feeling of a down pillow.
- It is hypoallergenic.
- There is no ethical sourcing question involved.
- It is not as comfortable as a down pillow.
- It is also not as durable.
Best For: Anyone with an allergy with down pillows/ or looking for a budget-friendly option.
3. Feather Pillow
A feather pillow is made of feathers from the back and wings of the birds.
- They are extremely lightweight and cozy
- Quills of the feather may bother the sleeper.
- It requires regular fluffing to maintain its form.
Best For: Side and back sleepers
4. Cotton Pillow
A cotton pillow is made of cotton. It is completely natural and free from synthetic materials.
- It is breathable and lightweight.
- It is easy to clean and maintain.
- It does not contour to the neck and head properly.
- It loses its firmness over time.
Best For: Sleepers with allergies looking for comfort.
5. Latex Pillow
A latex pillow is made from natural or synthetic latex. It is available in block and shredded form.
- Natural latex is biodegradable.
- It is extremely durable.
- A latex pillow is relatively costly.
- It can give off a rubbery odor.
Best For: Neck pain sufferers.
6. Memory Foam Pillow
A memory foam pillow is made of a foam known as visco-elastic foam.
- It contours to the head and neck properly.
- It provides pain relief support.
- Its texture is not for everyone. It is more on the firm side.
- It can give off a chemical odor.
Best For : Relieving neck and back pain.
7. Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
It is an alternative to the traditional memory foam pillow. It contains shredded pieces of foam.
- It is soft and moldable.
- It can be adjusted to fulfill the requirements of any kind of sleeper.
- It needs regular fluffing to maintain its form.
Best For: Any kind of sleeper with neck pain
8. Gel Infused Pillow
A gel is usually infused with some other material like memory foam and used as a filling for a pillow.
- Gel has cooling properties and helps relieve neck pain.
- It can be too firm for some people.
Best For : Sleepers who want a cool head throughout the night.
9. Innerspring Pillow
An innerspring pillow is a pillow that contains an inner layer of steel spring and an outer layer of memory foam.
- It allows for good airflow to keep the sleeper cool.
- It contours to the head and provides proper support.
- The complex design of the pillow makes it expensive.
Best For : Stomach sleepers looking for firm support.
10. Bamboo Pillow
A bamboo pillow typically consists of memory foam as its filling and bamboo viscose as its casing.
- It regulates the temperature via moisture wicking.
- It has antibacterial properties.
- It can be difficult to clean.
Best For :Keeping a sleeper’s head cool and dry.
11. Polyester Pillow
Polyester pillow is the most common type of pillow used in households. It is made using small poly fibers.
- Soft and cuddly
- Triggers skin problems or allergies
Best For: Sleepers looking for a budget-friendly pillow.
12. Buckwheat Pillow
Buckwheat is a popular filling for pillows because it creates a split-yet-contoured surface. Microbeads are often used to replicate this sensation.
- It is made using natural materials
- It is durable
- It can be noisy
- It is heavy for some
Best For: This is one of the best types of pillow for side sleepers as it provides both support and pressure point comfort. It is also great for people with neck problems.
13. Microbead Pillow
Microbead is a mimic of buckwheat pillow stuffing. The microbeads inside the pillow allow better air circulation. They're also a more moldable option than a lot of other options.
- It's less expensive than most other pillows.
- It is more breathable
- Microbead pillows aren’t environmental-friendly
- It becomes lumpy and flattens out over time
Best For: People looking for ventilated cushions with a buckwheat-like feel.
14. Wool Pillow
Depending on weather conditions, wool can keep you cool or warm as it is a natural insulator.
- Easy to wash
- Flattens out with the use
Best For: People with night-time allergies
15. Kapok Pillow
Kapok is a fiber found on kapok trees. It is often used in a blend to provide excellent softness and comfort.
- It is softer than cotton
- More durable than wool
- Extremely flammable and hence unsafe
Best For: Sleepers looking for a fluffy feeling
16. Water Pillow
Water pillows are filled with water and the quantity of the water affects the comfort level.
- Supports head and neck
- Provides an enjoyable and comfortable sleep
- Heavy in weight
Best For: People with discomfort in the neck or head
Pillow types can also be categorized on the basis of their size. Below are 6 popular pillow sizes.
|Pillow Type||Measurements in cms||Measurements in inches|
|Standard||51 X 66||20 X 26|
|Super Standard||51 X 71||20 X 28|
|Queen||51 X 76||20 X 30|
|King||51 X 92||20 X 36|
|European||66 X 66||26 X 26|
|Travel||31 X 41||12 X 16|
A standard pillow typically measures 20 by 26 inches. A standard pillow is enough to be placed on a twin-sized bed.
- Super Standard
Although not easy to find in the market, super standard pillows measure 51 by 71 inches. They fit most beds.
Queen-size pillows measure 20 by 30 inches and 2 queen pillows placed side-by-side are perfect for a queen-size bed.
King-size pillows measure 20 by 36 inches, which makes them ideal for large mattresses. 2 king-size pillows fit a king-size bed comfortably.
Euro pillows are square-sized decorative pillows that measure 26 by 26 inches. These are ideal for enhancing your room’s aesthetics.
As the name suggests, travel pillows are ideal for traveling. For the same reason, they are short in size. Usually, they measure 12 by 16 inches.
Apart from a variety of fillings and sizes, pillows come in different shapes. Some of the most common ones are rectangular pillows, square pillows, and rounded pillows. Apart from those, below are two different types:
Body pillows are huge pillows that come in different types of pillow shapes for different purposes. The most common shape is rectangular. However, some other popular pillow shapes include U, L, J, and C.
They are ideal for queen or king-size beds and are difficult to wash because of their size.
Horseshoe-shaped pillows are ideally designed for pregnant women to relieve discomfort during sleep. However, they can also be used while traveling as they prevent the head from curving to the sides.
Pillows for Different Sleeping Problems
Just like wrong pillows can cause aches, some pillows can provide relief to your symptoms and treat certain medical conditions.
Below are some pillows that can help you.
Wedge pillows are orthopedic pillows used to elevate the head to offer benefits to people suffering from sleep apnea, lower back pain, or poor blood circulation. It can improve their posture and sleep quality.
Cervical or round pillows provide relief to strained neck and shoulder muscles. They hold your neck and shoulders to prevent any abnormal move that may trigger pain.
Contour pillows provide support to the head, neck, spine, and other joints. It can help people with joint pain and sleep apnea.
Bolsters are narrow and long pillows for the bed that provide support to your neck and spine. They can also be placed between legs to provide proper alignment of your body.
- Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea pillows have a high loft. They don’t lie flat because that obstructs the breathing passage. If you use a CPAP machine, these pillows can accommodate its tubes and cords as it has cutouts.
Pillows and Sleeping Positions
One of the key factors that should determine your perfect pillow is your sleeping position. Based on how you sleep, the loft and firmness of your perfect pillow will vary.
|Sleeping Position||Ideal Pillow Type|
|Back Sleeper||Medium loft with medium firmness|
|Side Sleeper||High loft pillow with medium firmness|
|Stomach Sleeper||Firm pillows with a thin loft|
|Combo Sleeper||Adjustable pillow types like shredded memory foam or latex|
- Back Sleeper
To keep the head and shoulders in alignment with the spine, a pillow with medium firmness and loft would be the ideal one. If it’s too high or too low, it would cause strain on your neck or back.
- Side Sleeper
Thick pillows are the best pillows for side sleepers. These are recommended to fill the gap between the head and shoulders and to allow the neck to rest.
- Stomach Sleeper
Stomach sleepers feel most comfortable in thinner pillows that do not stress their back. Firm pillows are the best pillows for stomach sleepers. However, you can go for a less firm pillow if you like.
- Combo Sleeper
Determining the exact loft and firmness is not easy since combo sleepers sleep in two or three positions. However, using a moldable pillow is going to be a good choice. So, you can go for a shredded memory foam or latex pillow.
How to Choose a Pillow
Enough about different types of pillows. Now it’s time to choose your pillow wisely to make sure it gives you the most comfortable sleep and body you can dream of.
So, below are the factors that you should consider before making the decision to buy a pillow.
- Your sleeping position: Based on whether you are a back sleeper, stomach sleeper, side sleeper, or combination sleeper — choose the right firmness and loft.
- Your mattress size: Keep in mind the size of your mattress to ensure its fitting. E.g. King size pillows can’t fit a standard mattress.
- Purpose of the pillow: What do you need it for? To decorate your bed or travel purposes? For medical use or generic?
- Pricing & quality: Consider your budget and pick the best available pillow under it.
- Fabric & filling used: Consider the weather, allergies, preferred material, and firmness.
Different pillow shapes, sizes, and fillings might seem overwhelming at first. So, make sure you don’t rush through the process and consider the above-mentioned factors to pick the best type of pillow for yourself.