This article discusses 37 types of pillows because hey, the world with just one pillow type would be such a wasteland! How many of them are you familiar with? Tell us in the comment section below.
Let’s get started!
Pillow Types Based on the Fill Material
Here are the most popular types of pillow fill materials.
- Memory Foam Pillows
- Down Pillows
- Down Alternative Pillows
- Feather Pillows
- Latex Pillows
- Wool Pillows
- Cotton Pillows
- Kapok Pillows
- Buckwheat Pillows
- Millet Pillows
- Water-Based Pillows
- Gel-Infused Pillows
- Microbead Pillows
- Microfiber Pillows
- Hollow Fiber Pillows
- Inflatable (Air) Pillows
- Hybrid Pillows
Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam was invented by NASA in the 1970s and has since become a popular pillow material.
This synthetic fill material was originally developed for the aviation industry. Its shock-absorbing properties were useful in improving cushioning in aircraft seats, enhancing crash protection, and reducing takeoff impact.
By dint of the same property, memory foam gained commercial success and found application in varied industries – from medical to automobile, luggage and travel gear, and especially bedding.
Memory foam pillows offer excellent head and neck support and promote proper spinal alignment. However, they don’t appeal to all types of sleepers. This pillow type benefits side and back sleepers, but not stomach or hot sleepers.Read More About Memory Foam Pillows
Down pillows are stuffed with quill-free Down features sourced from the chest and underbelly of ducks, swans, and geese. They are ideal for people who prefer not to use pillows filled with synthetic materials.
They are designed to be super soft and fluffy, as opposed to memory foam. When you sleep on one, your head will feel like it’s resting on cotton candy.
Down pillows are lightweight and just right for stomach sleepers. However, side and back sleepers might not receive adequate support from them. Furthermore, while they are breathable, they retain body heat, which might irk hot sleepers.
Overall, Down pillows offer a luxurious feel but are expensive due to the limited availability of Down feathers.Read More About Down Pillows
Down Alternative Pillows
Down alternative pillows, as the name implies, are a synthetic alternative to traditional Down pillows. This fill material is typically petroleum-based, but polyester and synthetic cotton can also be used.
Down alternative pillows closely resemble the softness of Down pillows. Even then, they are a tad firmer. For this reason, they cannot be compressed as much as Down. Furthermore, they are cruelty-free and less expensive, but not biodegradable.Read More About Down Alternative Pillows
Natural feathers from the wings and backs of ducks, swans, and geese are used to fill feather pillows. They are quilled, flatter, and sturdier than Down. Feather pillows are thus firmer and heavier than Down pillows.
Nonetheless, they provide a luxurious sleeping experience and exceptional comfort, making them appropriate for all sleeping positions. However, they may not be appealing to light sleepers because the feathers rustle and make noise when they move.
Furthermore, detergents should never be used to clean feather pillows because the natural oils on the feathers are removed, making them brittle.Read More About Feather Pillows
A latex pillow is filled with either natural or synthetic foamed latex. If you’re unfamiliar with latex, it’s the sticky milky liquid that oozes from the bark of a rubber tree when you tap it.
Latex pillows are soft, supportive, and long-lasting. They are classified into two types based on how the latex is processed: Talalay and Dunlop. Other variations are determined by the state of the latex, which can be solid, shredded, cross-cut, or noodled.
Latex pillows can also be infused with gel particles to provide additional cooling. Some versions include memory foam for added firmness. Others are infused with activated bamboo charcoal, which imparts hypoallergenicity.
A disadvantage of latex pillows is that they cannot be machine washed. They are, however, the quietest pillows on the market that appeal to light sleepers.Read More About Latex Pillows
Wool pillows are stuffed with wool sourced by shearing sheep, lambs, llamas, cashmere goats, angora goats, camelids, bison, musk oxen, and angora rabbits. The process is painless and the resulting wool is 100% natural. However, it isn’t vegan.
Wool-stuffed pillows are firm and springy. They gently cradle the head without letting it sink too deeply into the pillow. Because of the thermal regulation properties of wool, this pillow type is suitable for all sleeping positions and especially appealing to hot sleepers.
On the flip side, such pillows are difficult to wash in the washing machine and shrink when exposed to water. It is also difficult to re-fluff them once they go flat or form lumps.Read More About Wool Pillows
Cotton is one of the most common and possibly the oldest fill materials used in pillows. Although synthetic materials have taken over the market, cotton still reigns supreme, at least among traditionalists.
It is toxin-free, cruelty-free, biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and completely vegan. It is also soft, supportive, breathable, machine washable, and recyclable. However, cotton pillows flatten quickly and become lumpy over time, which are significant drawbacks.
Nevertheless, cotton as a pillow stuffing material is here to stay.Read More About Cotton Pillows
Kapok pillows are stuffed with kapok fibers that are sourced from kapok trees. The material is similar to cotton, only finer, smoother, silkier, softer, lighter, and bouncier. Perhaps this is why it is known as “silk cotton.”
Surprisingly, kapok is 50% lighter than cotton. It does not easily lump, and when it does, it is frequently reversible. It is also toxin-free, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, biodegradable, and 100% vegan. Kapok is moisture-resistant and a great choice for winters.
However, it is not as supportive as cotton. Its main disadvantage is its high flammability, which can be a potential hazard.Read More About Kapok Pillows
Buckwheat pillows are stuffed with recycled hulls of buckwheat grains. They are firm but springy, and extremely supportive. The hulls are free of toxins, biodegradable, and 100% vegan. If they go flat, you can always refill your pillow with new hulls.
On the flip side, these pillows are bulky and cannot be washed. Although they help prevent snoring and migraines, they are not suitable for all sleeping positions. Stomach sleepers in particular wouldn’t enjoy sleeping on buckwheat pillows.
Furthermore, when moved, the hulls rustle, which will irritate light sleepers. On the other hand, buckwheat pillows are a hot sleeper’s dream. The hulls’ shape allows for adequate airflow to keep the head and neck cool during sleep.
Therefore, when it comes to recommending buckwheat pillows, we’d say to each his own.Read More About Buckwheat Pillows
If pillows can be stuffed with buckwheat hulls, why should millet hulls be behind? This is yet another natural filling material, which, when packed in the form of a pillow, conforms to the head and neck and promotes optimal spinal alignment.
However, millet pillows are lighter and quieter than buckwheat pillows and still supportive. Millet hulls are environmentally friendly and biodegradable. When the pillow flattens, simply fill in more hulls to reshape it.
On the other hand, pillows stuffed with millet hulls are not as breathable as buckwheat pillows. Also, they are high-maintenance, and washing them is far from easy.Read More About Millet Pillows
Water-based pillows have water as their fill material. Now that’s as natural as it can get! These pillows come with a special pouch that can hold water without letting it spill.
Water pillows were invented by Maurice Bard – the founder of Mediflow after he survived a car accident. The idea of a warm bottle under his regular pillow inspired his invention.
Overall, water pillows are soft, squishy, and cold to the touch. They are supportive and of course, don’t lump or flatten. However, they tend to be heavy and noisy. Also, with water inside the pillow, there’s always the risk of leakage.Read More About Water Pillows
Gel-infused pillows, like water-based pillows, are a type of cooling pillow. They have one or more layers of a special cooling gel inserted as gel pods, laminated pads, or directly infused into other fill materials like memory foam or latex.
They are moldable, supportive, and rapidly absorb and dissipate heat, resulting in a cooling effect. Such pillows are especially appealing to hot sleepers who tend to sweat a lot while sleeping.
Gel-infused pillows, on the other hand, are less durable, delicate, and environmentally unfriendly. The cooling effect is only temporary, and the pillows eventually become lumpy. They are not even machine washable. Off-gasing has also been reported in some cases.Read More About Gel-infused pillows
Microbead pillows are stuffed with small microbeads, a type of microplastic made of polyethylene or other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.
These pillows are moldable, breathable, lightweight, supportive, and reasonably priced. They conform well to the shape of your head and neck, making them extremely comfortable to sleep on.
However, due to off-gassing, microbead pillows frequently emit a strong chemical odor. They are also not environmentally friendly. Because the microbeads are smooth and rounded, these pillows lose shape quickly and require frequent readjustments.
As if that weren’t enough, they also flatten quickly. Nonetheless, they are quite popular in the market.Read More About Microbead pillows
Microfiber pillows contain microfibers, which are fine strands of tightly woven polyester or nylon that are finer than silk. One single strand of microfiber has a diameter of less than 10 μm!
Pillows stuffed with microfiber are durable and lightweight. They are low maintenance and can be machine-washed.
Such pillows also resist wrinkling and retain their original shape for a long time. Most of all, you can buy one without burning a hole in your pocketbook.
However, microfiber pillows tend to retain body heat, which is why they would never appeal to hot sleepers. They also flatten easily and attract static electricity, which can be annoying for any type of sleeper.Read More About Microfiber Pillows
Hollow Fiber Pillows
Hollow fiber pillows are filled with hollow fiber, which is a fine strand of polyester that is hollow on the inside. The material looks exactly like cotton but is silky, soft, and super fluffy.
Hollow fiber pillows are breathable, lightweight, cruelty-free, and inexpensive. They are not, however, eco-friendly or machine-washable. They are prone to becoming lumpy and have a short lifespan.
Nonetheless, because they are suitable for all sleeping positions, they are in high demand.Read More About Hollow Fiber Pillows
Inflatable (Air) Pillows
Inflatable pillows are exactly what their name implies. Before use, they must be inflated. Therefore, the “fill material” in them is essentially air. In other words, an inflatable pillow is simply a pillow shell, which has been designed to hold air without letting it leak.
Most camping and backpacking pillows are inflatable so they pack down small and can be easily inflated or deflated as required. Because such pillows don’t come with a real fill material, it is easy to clean and wash them.
The only disadvantage is the possibility of leakage. A leaking inflatable air pillow is difficult to repair. The solution is almost always to get another.
Hybrid pillows contain a mix of different fill materials – memory foam with latex, latex with cooling gel, Down with memory foam, Down with quilled feathers, memory foam with microfiber, memory foam with activated charcoal, and so on.
They are designed to bring the best of two or more worlds when it comes to pillow filling materials, and subsequently deliver enhanced comfort.
Pillow Types Based on the Size
Standard Size Pillows
A Standard size pillow usually measures 20” X 26” (51 cm X 56 CM). This is the most common type of sleeping pillow you will find in any household. It has another offshoot which is known as the Super Standard size. It’s not as common and measures two inches longer than the Standard size. Both the variants are designed to stretch perfectly on single beds.
Queen Size Pillows
A Queen size pillow usually measures 20” X 30” (51 cm X 76 cm), which means its width is the same as that of a Standard pillow, but the length is longer by 4”. Queen pillows are ideal for Queen-size beds, but can fit King-size beds, too.
King Size Pillows
A King pillow usually measures 20” X 36” (51 cm X 92 cm), which means its width is the same as that of Standard and Queen pillows, but the length is longer by 10” and 6” respectively. King pillows are ideal for King-size beds.
Read More About King Pillows
Pillow Types Based on the Shape
Wedge pillows get their name from the way they are shaped – like a wedge. They are triangular specialty pillows, which keep the torso of your body raised while you sleep. Ideally, wedge pillows are 7” to 8” high and keep the body slanted at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees
These pillows are often recommended to alleviate certain health issues such as acid reflux, sinusitis, snoring, sleep apnea, glaucoma, post-nasal drip, and neck and back pain.
Pregnant ladies are asked to sleep with a wedge pillow tucked between their legs to support their lower back and belly. The only downside of using a wedge pillow is the possibility of sliding down while sleeping.Read More About Wedge Pillows
Measuring 20” x 54” (51 cm x 137 cm), body pillows are perhaps the largest and longest pillows humans use (after Dakimakura, which is discussed later in this article). They have the same width as that of a Standard pillow but are usually elongated, like a long rectangle.
Body pillows are best suited for side sleepers who use them for a pain-free, comfortable slumber. Although rectangle is the general shape, they are also available in cylindrical, J-shaped, and U-shaped forms.
Lumbar Support Pillows
A lumbar support pillow is typically shaped like a cricket bat, with a flat back and a wedge-like triangle raised in the front.
It is intended to fit in the lumbar region of the human body, providing additional support and preventing back pain while sleeping or sitting.
A lumbar pillow encourages the natural curvature of the spine, which reduces muscle tension and relieves backaches.
Knee pillows are designed to reduce pressure on your knees (as well as hip and back) while you sleep. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes that are ideal for different sleeping positions.
For instance, a side sleeper’s knee pillow is flat and can be tucked between the knees while sleeping. Similarly, a back sleeper’s knee pillow is semi-cylindrical so legs are kept raised and bent in the knee area.
Neckroll pillows are shaped in a way they sit between the curvature of the neck and the mattress, thus offering support to the neck and restoring the original curve of the spine in that area.
They are also known by two other names: yoga bolsters and horseshoe pillows. The best thing about a neckroll pillow is that it can also serve as a lumbar support pillow and, on occasion, a knee pillow. For added comfort, some people place it even under their ankles.
Contour pillows, also known as cervical and orthopedic pillows, have multiple layers designed to support various parts of the body, particularly the head, neck, and spine.
Typically, these pillows are concave in the center and convex on the edges. The upper convex part is usually loftier than the lower, which aids in maintaining proper neck curvature while sleeping.
Contour pillows are known for helping to align the back and neck in an optimal posture, which aids in the relief of pain and discomfort while sleeping. Additionally, they help to prevent snoring, sleep apnea, back pain, and joint pressure.
Pillow Types Based on Sleeping Preferences
Sleeping pillows are exactly what they have been named: pillows used primarily for sleeping. As already discussed, they come in three main sizes: Standard, Queen, and King.
They can come filled with a variety of materials depending on your sleeping preferences. For instance, a sleeping pillow for side sleepers should be moderately firm and have a medium to high loft. Similarly, one for back sleepers should be moderately firm, but have a low to medium loft.
Although stomach sleepers are better off without sleeping pillows, they can use one that is super soft and has a very low to low loft. Remember, you don’t choose a sleeping position; your sleeping position chooses you! Likewise, you don’t decide which sleeping pillow to buy; your sleeping position decides it for you.
Camping and backpacking require specially designed pillows that are not the same as your regular sleeping pillows.
Such pillows must be able to withstand the dirt, dust, grime, and rough terrain that is typical of outdoor adventures. They must also ensure a good night’s sleep while not being too noisy or slippy.
Furthermore, other forms of travel that involve long-distance drives, warrant pillows that can provide comfort to the neck and shoulders. Remember, when you don’t have access to a real bed, you must make the most of what your pillow offers.Read More About Camping Pillows
Pillows With Speakers
Pillow speakers appeal to those who enjoy some background noise while sleeping but do not want to use earphones.
Initially, the term referred to pillows with built-in speaker systems. It has since expanded to include small music speakers that can be placed inside regular pillows.Read More About Pillow Speakers
Not every pillow is designed to provide physical comfort while sleeping. Some are also intended to provide psychological comfort.
Dakimakura pillows, which originated in Japan, fall into the latter category. They are similar to Western body pillows but do not provide the same benefits.
It wouldn’t be wrong to classify them as collectibles and comfort objects, similar to stuffed toys for kids.
Also known as ‘Waifu pillow,’ ‘Husbando pillow,’ and ‘Bamboo Wife,’ Dakimakura primarily appeals to Japanese and weebs who are patrons of Otaku culture. Those who aren’t fans of the concept think they’re weird.Read More About Dakimakura
Pillow Types Based on Decor Purposes
Euro pillows are square-shaped and of European origin. They are typically placed behind a Standard, Queen, or King pillow to accessorize a made bed. Euro pillows are usually 26″ X 26″ in size.
Although they are used to improve the aesthetic appeal of beds, euro pillows also provide additional benefits. Once in bed, you can use your euro pillow to support your back while sitting, reading, or watching TV. They are usually fluffy and do an excellent job of relieving back pain.
Throw pillows are just like euro pillows, only smaller in size. They are also known as deco pillows or toss pillows and are placed on sofas, couches, armchairs, and even on beds.
Unlike euro pillows, they are placed in front of the sleeping pillows and serve mostly as decorative pieces of furnishing. Of course, from a functional point of view, throw pillows could be useful for some extra back, neck, and head support.
These pillows usually come in three sizes: 20″ X 20″, 18″ X 18″, and 16″ X 16“.Cheapest throw pillows under $25
Bolster pillows are long, narrow, cylindrical, and similar to neckroll pillows. However, their use is mostly decorative. When arranging pillows on a bed, bolsters are usually placed in front of throw pillows.
However, from a functional perspective, they can be placed between the legs while sleeping and even hugged. Bolsters also provide comfort when you place them on your lap while sitting.
A boudoir pillow is small, rectangular, and used strictly for decorative purposes to adorn chairs, sofas, couches, and even floor seating arrangements.
It derives its name from the French term “boudoir,” which denotes a middle-class lady’s salon or private lounge area within an elegant accommodation – usually between the kitchen and bedroom.
Previously, these small, rectangular pillows were used to improve the aesthetics of boudoirs. Maybe that’s how they got their name. Boudoir pillows are frequently placed in pillowcases with flanges and shams to enhance their appearance.
A round pillow is usually a cushion that is both pretty and pretty useful! Apart from adding an aesthetic accent to your sitting or sleeping arrangement, these pillows can prop you up while you read, play indoor games, or watch TV.
They are shaped exactly like the emojis – a round smiley face, a wink face, a grinning face, a beaming face, a kissing face, a star-struck face, a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing face, and the entire motley crew! The poo pile and the ghost are also on the list!
Emoji pillows are commonly used for decorating purposes. They can easily add a fun element to an otherwise boring room. Additionally, they can also be used as comfort objects, similar to Dakimakura, or even as sleeping pillows!Read More About Emoji Pillows
Although they qualify to be called emoji pillows, we consider heart-shaped pillows to be a separate category of decorative pillows. The reason is simple: these pillows have been around for a long time, long before emojis were created.
Of course, with emojis winning hearts everywhere, this pillow type has received a boost in sales. Where we see its aesthetic value, some people have seen its medical benefits, too.
You might be surprised to learn that there is a Heart Pillow Project for breast cancer patients, which began in 2001 after Janet Kramer-Mai, a nurse at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her aunts made her a heart-shaped pillow to use as a post-op recovery tool after surgery. Interestingly, it worked wonders.
Bonus Information: 8 Types of Pillowcases to Try
- Bamboo Pillowcase
Bamboo pillowcases are made with bamboo fibers, which are basically a mixture of bamboo leaves and trunk flesh crushed up, processed, and hardened. The resulting material is usually bamboo-derived viscose rayon, which is silky and smooth.
Such pillowcases are quick-wicking and cool to the touch. The fabric is soft and naturally cling-free. It is further believed to be naturally hypoallergenic as well. Most of all, bamboo pillowcases are washable and easy to maintain.
Read More About Bamboo Pillows and Pillowcases
- Copper Pillowcase
Copper pillowcases have copper oxide particles embedded in polyester or nylon fabric.
The idea behind using copper is to leverage its antimicrobial and healing properties, which greatly benefit the hair and skin. Additionally, these pillowcases are believed to enhance the quality of sleep, too!
The copper oxide in these pillowcases fights bacteria, heals the skin, prevents wrinkles and fine lines, reduces acne breakouts, and safeguards the hair from damage due to friction.
Read More About Copper Pillows and Pillowcases
- Silk Pillowcase
Silk in pillowcases not only exudes luxury but also promotes healthier skin and hair. A silk pillowcase can turn even the dullest of bedrooms into something magnificent.
Additionally, silk is naturally smooth, which reduces its friction with the facial skin and hair while you sleep. As a result, your skin experiences fewer breakouts, and your hair tangles and falls less. In our opinion, every sleeping beauty deserves a silk pillowcase!
Read More About Silk Pillowcase
- Cotton Pillowcase
We don’t know of any person who has never used a cotton pillowcase ever. Cotton is the most basic fabric for pillowcases and rightfully so!
Cotton pillowcases are super comfortable and quick-wicking, thus keeping the head cool. Additionally, they are easy to wash and maintain. However, the friction from cotton can aggravate breakouts and worsen acne.
- Flannel Pillowcase
Flannel pillowcases are your best bet for winters. They are soft, cozy, breathable, and warm. However, flannel has its downsides. It shrinks upon washing and takes a long time to dry. Furthermore, it also leads to overheating and could particularly displease hot sleepers.
- Dakimakura Pillowcase
Dakimakura pillowcases are custom-made exclusively for Dakimakura pillows and come in either of the three standard lengths: 100cm, 150cm, and 160cm.
These pillowcases are printed on both sides with the full body of an anime, manga, or video game character, and sometimes even a real person. They are a real deal with people who follow the Otaku culture!
Now, this is where things get spicy! The printed characters on these pillowcases are positioned in a way they appear to be lying down when you hold the pillow and sleep. From cute to kinky – Dakimakura pillowcases come in an interesting variety!
- Silver Pillowcase
Silver pillowcases contain silver ions, which are known to inhibit bacterial growth. As a result, they have been dubbed “anti-acne pillowcases” and are thought to combat iky acne-causing bacteria.
The theory here stems from silver-impregnated sportswear that blocks odor-causing bacteria that live off sweat. Although this is theoretically feasible, there is no scientific evidence to support it. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in giving it a shot.
- Zinc Pillowcase
Zinc pillowcases carry zinc particles that are embedded right into the fabric. These pillowcases are believed to deliver three-fold benefits by preventing acne and other common skin conditions, promoting dandruff-free hair roots, and contributing to a calmer slumber.
While the antibacterial properties of zinc are definitely science-backed, we don’t know if the pillowcases work the way they are supposed to. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in getting one.