Understanding and choosing the right pillow fill impacts more than comfort - it is also a crucial component to delivering perfect support and spinal alignment for a great night’s sleep.
Think about this - if the average adult gets seven hours of sleep per night, that accounts for about 2,555 hours each year with our heads on the pillow. That’s out of 8,760 hours in a year! With so much time dedicated to recharging our bodies and rejuvenating our systems, why do we spend so little time focusing on how to maximize comfort and wellness during these critical hours?
One of the most affordable and quickest ways to immediately improve sleep quality is by replacing existing worn out or subpar bed pillows with new pillows that feel great and provide appropriate support at all times. When you’re looking for new pillows, one of the key considerations will be the fill materials used in each iteration. There are several different pillow fill types available to determine what will deliver the absolute best night of sleep for you and your loved ones.
From buckwheat to bird feathers, recycled shredded foam to simple H2O, you’ll find that the options are almost limitless. The question is, where should you start?
Polyester – Cheap but Dependable
Owing to its low price and comfortable feel, polyester is a super-popular choice when it comes to low-cost pillows. Polyester is cheap and can be thrown in the washing machine when it gets dirty or simply needs a refresh, but it also clumps easily and doesn’t last quite as long as other fill types available today. There is also some research that polyester can emit some potentially harmful gases when produced. The good news is polyester pillows are often available for as little as $10 each - but considering we spend almost 30% of our lives sleeping, maybe it makes sense to invest in a little extra comfort and durability?
Down – Comfortable but Costly and Difficult to Maintain
Down pillows are crafted from the fluffy bottom part of a bird’s feathers (hence its name). They are lightweight, comfortable, and tend to offer good head and neck support when used appropriately. Conversely, down pillows are some of the higher priced pillows on the market, and there is no real way to find a “firm” down pillow. Expect to pay upwards of $150-200 for a top-quality down pillow. Keep in mind that a “feather” pillow isn’t the same as a down pillow, as true down pillows only use the light, fluffy underside of a bird’s feathers, while full feather pillows include the needle-like feather shaft, too.
Memory Foam – Supportive and Durable, but Largely Non-Adjustable
If you’ve spent much time using a traditional memory foam pillow, one thing is clear - it must be configured the right way or it will never reach the right comfort level. Regular memory foam can’t be fluffed or molded, and it comes from the factory with a predetermined amount of elasticity that can be quite supportive and comfortable if it matches the sleeper’s needs. Memory foam runs anywhere from $30-$200. You can opt for a shredded memory foam configuration so it’s easier to mold to your preferences. Keep in mind that a common complaint with these pillows is that they’re too soft, especially for stomach sleepers.
Latex – Supportive but Rubbery
Latex pillows are becoming more popular these days, with two key benefits that separate them from most memory foam pillows on the market. The first is the supportive design that somehow manages to be quite soft at the same time. The second benefit is the inherent breathability of the latex material that can help keep you cool when other pillows fail. It will never be called cuddly, as latex always feels like rubber, but they are rated highly by back sleepers who demand a firm pillow. Stomach sleepers often complain that latex pillows are too thick and have too high a loft factor. $100-$200 per pillow is typical.
Water – Supportive, Adjustable, and Affordable
Two basic elements - hydrogen and oxygen, never felt so good to a tired head and neck. Water pillows are becoming extremely popular today, as they combine the support of a memory foam or latex pillow, the temperature management benefits of latex, the flexibility and comfort of top-quality down or synthetic fill, and the weight and heft of the finest pillows on the market.
Better-quality water pillows feature a customizable reservoir that allows you to adjust the pillow’s loft by simply adding or subtracting water. This enables you to adjust the pillow to your desired comfort level while maintaining proper support for your head and neck. Their adjustable comfort eliminates the expensive and frustrating process of testing out dozens of pillows until you find the ideal one.
Responsive support, a customizable feel, and the ability to choose your desired top cushion all contribute to an enhanced sleep from water pillows. Regardless of your sleeping type (stomach, side and back sleepers), you can expect to get a better night’s sleep when using water pillows. According to a John Hopkins University study, the Mediflow Waterbase Pillow was clinically proven to reduce neck pain and improve the quality of sleep.
Plus, the affordable price point makes these pillows a recommended option for anyone looking for the best quality of sleep. Expect to pay from $40-$100 for a top-quality comfort pillow like the Mediflow Waterbase Pillow.
While there is a variety of different pillow fill types available today, water pillows are quickly becoming the preferred choice for those who value a restful night of sleep and real value.