Do You Know the Types of Bed Pillow Filling?

Does Pillow Filling Matter?

Happy family on bed with pillows denoting healthy lifestyle pillow fillings

Pillow fillings determine qualities like the loft, softness, firmness and hypoallergenic properties of your pillow. If you suffer from allergies, experience headaches, back or neck pain when you wake up or have difficulty sleeping at all, your pillow may be the wrong one, and your filling plays a major role. Knowing what’s in your pillow is important to finding the right pillow for your sleep style and health.

The good news is that the choice of pillow fillings has grown over time as new materials and manufacturing technologies have been developed, and consumer tastes have changed. Research into sleep quality, comfort and chiropractic health, such as dealing with neck and back pain, have contributed to the development of a broad range of pillow types and pillow filling solutions.

The Many Types of Bed Pillow Filling

Young woman shopping for new pillow choosing the right pillow filling

Should you care if your pillow filling is “natural” or not? This depends on your goals with your pillow purchase. Natural or recycled materials may be important options for some. But many people may not realize that pillow fillings made with natural or man-made materials can both be a healthy choice, depending on what provides you with the healthiest and most restful sleep.

Here are some of the pillow fillings you may encounter when shopping for a new pillow:

Down Filling: The fluffy part at the base of a bird’s feather is known as “down.” Feather and down pillows have been in use for thousands of years. Most pillows that use down filling actually have a combination of feathers and down in them. Down holds its loft up to three times as long as many synthetic filling varieties. Our Bellazure Duo pillow uses a dual layer of duck feathers in the interior chamber and duck down in the outer chamber. People with allergies should avoid pillows with down filling.

Polyester Fiberfill: Also known as Poly-Fil, this man-made filling is one of the most cost-effective. The fact that it is also hypoallergenic makes it a popular choice for many people. They are sold in a variety of firmnesses and provide good support. They are easy care and can usually be machine-washed without major damage. Polyester pillows compress and flatten out over time and should be replaced every year or two. Our Dolce Notte II pillow provides great head and neck support using a quality polyester fiber filling for both softness and support.

Cotton Filling: Cotton is a common type of pillow fill, natural and hypoallergenic. It’s a little firmer than a down or Poly-Fil pillow, with the downside that cotton tends to flatten and harden over time. For this reason, 100% cotton-filled pillows are becoming less common, having been replaced by newer synthetic alternatives.

PETP Fiber Fill: This is an eco-friendly pillow filling. It is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, making it a sustainable product that is perfect for back and stomach sleepers. Shredded into microfibers, it is soft and plush for extra comfort. Environmentally conscious consumers will enjoy this product in Sobel’s Dolce Vita Eco Pillow.

Gel Fiber: Soft gel fiber filling offers an unparalleled level of comfort for sleep. It has the soft, plush feel of a down pillow, but without the allergens. Gel fiber is breathable, and provides gentle but firm support. Our best-selling Sahara Nights® pillow and fan favorite “Disney” pillow, the Sobella Supremo are examples of quality gel fiber fill pillows.

Microbead Filling: These synthetic beads create a very “breathable” filling that allows the pillow to stay cooler while you sleep on it. The filling is also referred to as “uniform polymer particles.” The downside to microbead filling is that it tends to flatten sooner than many other pillow filling types.

Cooling Pillows: Using the latest patented technologies, cooling pillows use a wicking process to draw moisture away from your face and head, creating a cooling effect as you sleep. These are made with man-made materials, generally polyethylene and polyester blends. Cooling pillows are great for hot sleepers and for those warm and sticky summer nights.

Kapok Filling: The ceiba pantranda is a tree native to Mexico. Its flowers make a natural and fluffy material that’s very similar to cotton. Kapok-filled pillows are seeing a revival in popularity due to their eco-friendly qualities, but they are not moldable like synthetic fillers. Kapok pillows quickly develop lumps.

Memory Foam: This type of pillow filling is more expensive but very popular because of its ability to retain its original shape. Someone can sleep on it night after night and it will bounce right back to its firm, rectangular shape. Some sleepers find memory foam a bit too firm. If you prefer a softer pillow, shredded memory foam is a good option. Memory foam is made from polyurethane, a synthetic compound which can be irritating to some people.

Buckwheat Hulls: This is an eco-friendly type of specialty pillow filling. Buckwheat hulls are very malleable and breathable. These pillows have a long lifespan and mold to the shape of your head and neck. However, buckwheat hulls are noisy — these pillows make a rustling sound when you shift them during the night.

Which Pillow Filling is Best for You?

Two luxury Sobel Westex hotel pillows piled on a hotel bed

The best type of pillow filling for you depends on your needs. Do you sleep on your back, stomach or side? Do you prefer firm support or soft? Do you have allergic reactions to certain products? Are you looking for a lofty pillow or one that is a bit thinner? Do you have health problems, such as back pain, that can be helped by better sleep position? You’ll want to take all of those factors into consideration when choosing the type of pillow filling that is ideal for you.

Sobel at Home offers a wide range of luxury hotel-quality pillows for home use. If you fondly remember the good night’s rest you had on your last hotel stay, there’s probably a reason for it: that high-quality pillow that allowed you to sleep like a king or queen. Browse our selection to find the pillow that is perfect for you and each member of your family.