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12 Types of Pillows For a Good Night Sleep

Pile of Pillows
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updated: April 18, 2024

It's no secret that getting a good night's sleep is crucial for a productive day, in addition to helping you maintain your overall health and well-being. But what about your sleep environment? Your pillow is an essential aspect of your sleep environment—and achieving a restful snooze without a good one is a tall order. Plus, there are a plethora of pillows on the market in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and firmness levels from which to choose.

Different people prefer different types of pillows, so it can be tough to find the perfect one for you. In this article, we'll compare the various types of pillows and help you find the best one—so you can unlock deeper, better sleep every night.

Materials of Pillows

The materials used to make pillows vary from synthetic fibers to natural options like feathers and down. Synthetic fibers are generally more affordable, but some may find them too firm or uncomfortable. Natural materials can be expensive, but they often provide better support and comfort.

The types of materials used in a pillow can affect how well it holds up. Synthetic materials may start to lose their shape and become lumpy after a few months of use, while natural materials often last longer.

Here are the most common material types and what makes each of them unique.

  • Down pillow: Down pillows are filled with feathers, down, or a combination of both. They provide great support and comfort, but can also be expensive. Some find them too soft, so they may not be ideal for people who need more support.
  • Down alternative pillow: Down alternative pillows are filled with synthetic fibers that provide similar support and comfort to down pillows. They tend to be more affordable, but may not last as long.
  • Memory foam pillow: Memory foam pillows are made from synthetic materials and molded to offer comfortable support. They’re often more affordable than down pillows and provide great neck and shoulder support.
  • Shredded memory foam pillow: Shredded memory foam pillows are made up of small pieces of memory foam that provide a more customizable level of comfort than traditional memory foam. They tend to be firmer and may not last as long as traditional memory foam.
  • Latex pillow: Latex pillows are made from natural materials and offer good support while being soft to the touch. They also don't need fluffing or adjusting like some other types of pillows—so they’re a good choice for those who don't want to fuss with their pillows every night.
  • Gel pillow: Gel pillows are made from synthetic materials and filled with gel beads. They offer support while being responsive to your body's heat, helping you stay cool throughout the night.
  • Buckwheat pillow: Buckwheat pillows are filled with small, naturally-grown, and harvested buckwheat hulls. They are great for people who need a lot of support and need to adjust the pillow's shape to fit their needs.
  • Cotton pillow: Cotton pillows are made of natural cotton and provide good support. They are often less expensive than other types of pillows and can be machine-washed for easy cleaning.
  • Bamboo pillow: Bamboo pillows are made from natural bamboo fibers and offer good support. They are usually more expensive than other types of pillows, but they can also be machine-washed for easy cleaning.
  • Polyester pillow: Polyester pillows are made from synthetic materials and offer good support. They are often less expensive than other types of pillows, but they may not last as long.
  • Microbead pillow: Microbead pillows are filled with tiny beads that provide comfort and support. They can be a good choice for people who need extra support, but they may not last as long as other types of pillows.

Pillow Sizes

Pillows come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit your specific needs. Here are the most common types.

  • Standard pillow: Standard pillows measure 20 inches x 26 inches and are ideal for back or side sleepers.
  • Super standard pillow: Super standard pillows measure 20 inches x 28 inches and are slightly larger than a standard pillow, making them great for people who need more support.
  • Queen pillow: Queen pillows measure 20 inches x 30 inches and offer extra space for those who like to sleep on their stomach.
  • King pillow: King pillows measure 20 inches x 36 inches and provide maximum support for people who like to sleep on their back, side, or stomach.
  • European pillow: European pillows measure 26 inches x 26 inches and are perfect for people who like to sleep on their back or side, as they offer plenty of support.
  • Body pillow: Body pillows are usually much longer than other types of pillows and measure 48 inches x 20 inches. They offer great support for pregnant women or those who need extra support while sleeping.
  • Travel pillow: Travel pillows are smaller than other types of pillows and measure 12 inches x 16 inches. They can be used while traveling, of course, or to provide lumbar support while you’re at home.
Best cooling memory foam pillow
Serta Arctic Cooling Queen Medium Memory Foam Bed Pillow Polyester in White | 500442799-8050

Serta Arctic Cooling Queen Medium Memory Foam Bed Pillow Polyester in White | 500442799-8050

Pillow Shapes

A pillow’s shape can have an impact on comfort. Here are some of the most common pillow shapes.

  • Round pillow: Round pillows are perfect for people who like to sleep on their stomachs, as they offer plenty of support without being too bulky.
  • Contour pillow: Contour pillows are shaped like a horseshoe and provide more support by cradling your head and neck.
  • Neck roll pillow: Neck roll pillows are designed to provide extra support for the head, neck, and shoulders. They can be used as an alternative to traditional pillows or for additional lumbar support.
  • Wedges pillow: Wedge pillows are shaped like a triangle and can be used to support the back, legs, or neck. They can also provide extra height for people who have difficulty reaching their traditional pillow.
  • Cervical pillow: Cervical pillows are designed to provide support and comfort for the head, neck, and shoulders. They can help to improve posture and reduce neck pain.
  • Roll or bolster pillow: Roll or bolster pillows are cylindrical-shaped and can be used to elevate the head or add lumbar support. They come in various sizes and can be filled with foam, feathers or buckwheat hulls.

Read more: Best Pillows for Neck Pain and a Better Night’s Sleep, According to Experts

Specialty Pillows

Specialty pillows are designed to address specific needs, such as pregnancy or nursing. They can provide additional support and comfort during these special times.

Here are some of the most common specialty pillows.

  • Adjustable pillows: Adjustable pillows are designed to be filled with air or water, allowing you to customize the firmness and support.
  • Pregnancy pillow: Pregnancy pillows can provide extra comfort and support during pregnancy by helping to reduce pressure on the hips, back, and stomach.
  • Nursing pillow: Nursing pillows can help to support your body while nursing, allowing you to feed your baby without strain.
  • Sleep apnea pillows: Sleep apnea pillows are specially designed to reduce snoring and improve breathing by providing optimal positioning for the head and neck.
  • Cooling pillows: Cooling pillows are designed to help keep you cool throughout the night by providing extra ventilation and breathability.
  • Organic pillows: Organic pillows are filled with natural materials such as cotton, wool, or buckwheat hulls. They are great for those who are looking for an eco-friendly alternative to traditional pillows.
Best cooling pillow for side sleepers
The Eden Cool+ Cut-Out

The Eden Cool+ Cut-Out

Finding the Right Pillow for You

No matter what size pillow you choose, make sure it provides the right amount of support and comfort for your specific needs. Materials, sizes, and shapes will all offer different levels of support, so make sure to select the one that is best for you. Here’s what to consider when shopping for a pillow.

What kind of material is it made out of?

Pillows materials can be made out of feathers, down, foam, buckwheat, microbeads and more. Depending on how firm or soft you want your pillow. You will need to consider the material it is made out of. In addition, if you have allergies to latex or down, you will want to skip any pillows that contain these materials.

What size is the pillow?

Like most bedding, pillows come in all kinds of sizes from a standard measuring 20 inches x 26 inches that is great for back or side sleepers to an oversized king pillow measuring 20 inches x 36 inches and should provide maximum support for sleepers. The largest sized pillow on the market is a body pillow. This large pillow is often used to support pregnant women or people who need a ton of extra sleep support. Body pillows are normally 48 inches x 20 inches but like most things, you may be able to purchase a custom-made pillow, if you need something bigger or smaller for your bed.

With so many options available, you are sure to find the perfect pillow to give you a great night's sleep. Here’s to finding the perfect place to rest your head. Happy Shopping.

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