Pillow Filling and the Environment: Pros and Cons of Each Type

Did you know you sleep on your pillow for approximately 2,500 hours annually? You probably didn’t think you were having such a tight relationship with it but it turns out a pillow is much more than just something you lay your head on each night. Today we talk about pillow filling and the pros and cons of each type.

Just like a comfortable bed, a good pillow is important if you’re looking for a restful night’s sleep. We somehow give little thought to the pillows we use, even though the right pillow and the correct position play an important part in achieving a good night’s sleep. In addition to providing you with the necessary comfort, the right pillow will also support your neck and spine the right way.

Choosing the right pillow for you could even alleviate many common forms of neck and back pain. On the other hand, incorrect pillows are not just causing neck and back pain, but they can also trigger allergic reactions. After two years of use, a pillow’s weight is one third dead skin, oil, dust mites, and dirt.

Buying the Right Pillow

A good pillow is all about the firmness; buy one that allows your neck and spine to be positioned properly, depending on your needs. The right one will leave no gap between your mattress and your neck. For the correct sleeping posture, sleep only with your head and neck over the pillow.

Shoulders should not be on the pillow, because it elevates your upper body much higher than your lower body. If necessary, roll up a hand towel and place it in your pillow to fill the gap between your neck and shoulders. Also, place a pillow between your bent knees if you sleep on your side. That way, you can maintain the balance of your entire body by achieving the midline position.

What Pillow Filling Is Best for You?

There are several different fillings that you can choose from. Each one of them provides various advantages and degrees of firmness, but they also come with various disadvantages. The differences do not lie in the price range alone. Depending on the state of your neck and back, you will need you pillow to provide a specific kind of support, which influences your preference for the pillow filling.

Synthetic Filling

synthetic pillow

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Synthetic pillows are the most common in the pillow world, as well as the most versatile. For most people, the synthetic filling is a decent and inexpensive choice. At the same time, they are suited to many different sleeping styles. However, make sure you invest in a decent one, for a good night’s sleep.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Great for people with allergies
  • Easy to shape to desired height
  • Easy to wash and care for

CONS

  • Synthetic pillows have the shortest life-span (6 months-2 years)
  • Filling can gather into clumps
  • Flatten quickly
  • Easily damaged by heavy or repeated washing
  • Lose shape too quickly

Feather Pillows

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It used to be the popular alternative to down, but not so much anymore. While they have similar properties to down, feathers are not as soft, lightweight, and durable. This pillow style is not particularly recommended for side sleepers. However, it might be right for you if you sleep mostly on your back or front. If feather pillows are your cup of tea, then make sure your employ regular washing.

PROS

  • Quite inexpensive
  • Super soft
  • Easy to bend into the desired shape
  • A better lifespan than synthetic
  • Easily washable

CONS

  • Rarely offer enough support and height
  • Feather quills can poke through even the toughest cover
  • Will need regular shaking and fluffing to maintain original shape
  • Not great for allergy sufferers

Cotton Pillows

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Cotton is not just good for you, but also for the environment. It’s a natural filling that you can find easily. The pillows with cotton filling are easy-to-care-for and breathable. However, as a downside, the fibers in the pillow filling will clump after a few months. For a more durable pillow, opt for cotton blended with synthetic fibers.

PROS

  • Cooler than synthetic and foam fills
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Washable & soft

CONS

  • Cotton clumps over time
  • Can be quite noisy
  • Filling will need to be replaced more frequently than other pillow filling
  • Support is depending on your sleeping style

Down Filling

Even though it’s a bit pricier than the other options we presented, down filling offers a soft and luxurious feeling as you enjoy your night sleep. If you’re looking for neck pain relief and back support, down should not be your first option, but they will work perfectly in almost all other circumstances.

PROS

  • The softest pillow filling
  • Cool and airy
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to shape
  • Durable & quiet

CONS

  • Down feathers can sometimes poke through the cover
  • Do not offer enough support and height
  • Can be rather expensive
  • Pillows require occasional fluffing and shaking
  • Not ideal for allergy sufferers

Memory Foam

When it first entered the market, memory foam simply revolutionized our relationship with pillows. This material prides in providing ultimate spinal and neck support. Memory foam pillows are ideal for back and side sleepers, so don’t go buying one if you sleep mostly on your stomach. A technology developed by NASA, memory foam can often get expensive. However, if you’re looking for superior support, the extra buck will be worth it. In spite of the hefty price tag, this just might become your favorite pillow.

PROS

  • Is firm and soft at the same time
  • Smooth (sans lumps, like cotton)
  • Offers pain relief and good support for back and neck
  • Will contour itself and closely match your head and neck based on body heat
  • Not noisy at all
  • Easy to wash and care for
  • Extended durability

CONS

  • Not flexible; difficult to bend and shape as desired
  • Only for back and side sleepers
  • Initially carries the smell of polyurethane foam
  • Very heavy
  • Becomes warm during sleep
  • Doesn’t ventilate heat well, given that the heat helps it shape to your body
  • Quite expensive

There are other types of pillow filling – more alternative kinds – you can try, such as latex or water. Either way, it’s clear now that different pillows address to different sleepers. All you need to do is find out which type of pillow is best for your sleep position.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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