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Types of Pillows – Pros and Cons

by John Stewart
sleeping on pillow

Generally, a pillow can be defined as a bag stuffed with soft materials, which can either be feathers, polyester or cotton, used to support the head when lying or sleeping. The first pillow in history is mapped back to ancient Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq. They were made of stone.

Pillows became commonly used in the nineteenth century during the beginning of the industrial revolution. They were mass produced due to the advancement in technology and became more affordable.

Types of pillows

One getting a good night’s sleep depend on a variety of factors. Most people think that the only key to a good night sleep is a good mattress (which is true), but the pillow is just as crucial and is also as important as your mattress.

Of course some people do not use a pillow at all but for those who do, it is important to pick the right one. For you to easily get to dreamland, your head needs to be resting on the best possible pillow.

The good news is that there are a variety of pillows to choose from for you to have your good night’s sleep. As you are about to see, most pillows derive their names from the material used to fill them.

1. Body pillow

body pillow

This is a type of pillow, normally almost the size of your body, designed to give comfort to the entire body during sleep.


  • It is useful for expectant women. The body pillow accommodates bodily changes that that the expectant woman experiences.
  • Unlike other regular pillows, it does not shift around the bed while sleeping.
  • It can also act as a prop to sit against.


  • Their pillow cases can be very hard to find since they are of different shapes and sizes. One has to be very careful not to put stains on them.
  • They deform when frequently washed.

2. Memory foam

memory foam pillow

As it is made out of memory foam, this type of pillow reacts to the pressure and heat from the body, in that, it molds itself to the shape of your neck and head. It reverts itself to its original position once pressure is released.


  • It gives most comfort to those prone to neck and back problems.


  • Since it traps heat, it can be uncomfortable during warm climate.
  • Since they are chemically made, some may give off an irritating chemical odor.

3. Contour pillow

contour pillow

 This is a type of pillow designed for back and side sleepers. Some of the materials used to make the contour pillow are; water buckwheat and memory foam. this makes it inherit some of the pros and cons of the type of material used.


  • It prevents snoring. This is achieved by supporting the head and neck in a way that breathing becomes smooth for you.      


  • It is not designed for stomach sleepers.

4. Down pillow

down pillow

They are soft and fluffier. Stomach sleepers tend to go for this since they like their pillows cushiony.


  • They are washable and it being a natural pillow, they are long lasting.
  • Very light and fluffy.
  • They tend to regulate temperature are also breathable.


  • It requires frequent shaking and fluffing for maintenance.
  • It is expensive

5. Feather pillow

feather pillow

Like the down pillow, feather pillows are soft.


  • They are light in terms of weight and have a superior softness.
  • They tend to last for a long period of time.
  • The pillows are flexible


  • Like the down pillow, they require a lot of shaking and fluffing for maintenance
  • Some people may be allergic to feathers
  • They can sometimes be uncomfortable since the feathers tend to sink further and because of the quills.
  • Chemicals produced to sanitize the feathers may produce odor.

6. Buckwheat pillow

buckwheat pillow

They are stuffed with hard outer shells, known as buckwheat. These are husks that protect kernels.


  • They are cost friendly
  • Long lasting.
  • The husks are renewable.
  • They are ideal for most type of sleepers, especially the back sleepers.
  • The husks provide air circulation in between them hence do not retain heat.


  • They are difficult to clean and tend to develop an unpleasant smell if not well ventilated after washing.
  • They are heavy compared to other ordinary pillows.
  • Unlike the memory foam pillow, they do not revert back to their original shape once deformed.

7. Latex pillow

latex pillow

They are made from rubber that is harvested for rubber trees.


  • They are biodegradable and 100% natural. This makes it last for a long period of time.
  • Like the memory foam pillow, it can mold itself to the shape of your head and neck hence providing a firm sleeping surface.
  • It does not retain heat and it’s much more breathable than memory foam.
  • Easy to clean
  • Resistant to parasites such as dust mites and bed bugs.


  • They are heavier than memory foam.
  • They are expensive.

8. Polyester pillow

polyester pillow

They are made of polyester textures, sometimes referred to as poor man’s cotton.


  • Cheap
  • Easy to wash     
  • Extremely tear resistant.


  • They have poor ventilation
  • Provide poor neck support during sleep
  • Vulnerable to parasites such as dust mites.

9. Bead pillow

micro-bead  pillow

It is filled with round polystyrene beads (microbeads).


  • It easily molds itself to the shape of the head and neck.
  • It supports good air circulation


  • To some, they may be too firm.
  • It does last for a short period of time.

10. Cotton pillow

cotton pillow

They are filled with a hundred percent pure cotton.


  • They are allergy free
  • Firmer then the down pillows


  • They deform over time.

Sleeping with pillows

Believe it or not, the number of pillows that you may decide to sleep on could be the blame of the frequent bad nights one can have. Most people, in the morning, wake up with a crick in the neck feeling groggy and unrest.

This has everything to do with pillows. Some people prefer sleeping with two to four pillows and this can be a problem. The correct number of pillows recommended for you for a comfortable sleep is just one.

The purpose of having a single pillow to rest your head on is that it keeps your neck aligned with your spine thus preventing neck strain.

How do you know that it is time to replace your pillow?

Pillows needs replacement after 17-18 months. Others tend to last even longer than this duration of time. Such an example of a pillow is the memory foam pillow that last up to three years.

If you are not sure whether or not your pillow needs replacement, carry out the following simple tests; Is it torn? Does it have a distinctive smell, especially an unpleasant one? Does it have stains due to frequent sweating?

All these are signs that a pillow needs to be replaced. If it passes the above test, the next step is folding it in half. If it does not fluff back up, then it is a dead pillow quite literally.