All of us are different sleepers and so there is no one rule fits all for how we can get quality sleep. Backaches, neck and shoulder pain, feeling tired when you wake up and even experiencing difficulty moving some parts of the body may be directly related to using poor quality sleep pillows. Pillow Insider helps you make informed decisions by presenting you with a variety of pillow options to choose from. Depending on what kind of a sleeper you are, we recommend the best pillows that will help you sleep better. By taking into account the pros, cons and thousands of customer reviews about all kinds of pillows, we do all the research for you so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

The type of pillow stuffing material you choose has a direct impact on your quality of sleep and overall wellness.

Healthy sleeping habits have for long been regarded essential for a fit and active lifestyle. Unless the pillow that you use while resting is ideally suited to your comfort, you can say goodbye to any chance of achieving a restful sleep.

This is where the type, material and characteristics of the pillow filling you use become irrevocably important. Even a slight deviation, for example being slightly firmer or moderately softer from your comfort level can render you sleepless for the night.

With so many pillow filling options available in the market, how do you determine the perfect fit

Read on to learn more!

Types of Pillow Stuffing Materials

In case you don’t intend to wake up with sore shoulders or an allergy you did nothing to provoke, choosing the material for your pillow stuffing wisely is indisputably the most important thing to do. Since no pillow material works the same way for all, you therefore should ideally try out the various available options yourself before choosing one.

Keeping in view the plentiful options available in the market these days, the following pillow stuffing types can help you narrow down your filling options.



Duck or goose down filled pillows are undoubtedly the most luxurious option available for those searching for the softest pillow filling in the market. The pillow’s softness is attributed to the texture of the undercoating of the bird’s feathers, clusters of which make up hundred percent of the filling of a pure down pillow.

In addition to being extremely light, down pillows are highly durable and can even survive for an entire lifetime, granted proper care is taken. That precisely, is where the problem arises.

Taking care of the down pillow isn’t that easy because not only is it extremely difficult to give it a nice wash, doing which can cause lumps to form and take away the characteristic softness, but it also requires timely fluffing without which it can flatten out. As a side note, down pillows also happen to be quite expensive!

2. Down alternative pillow filling

Unlike original down, down alternative filling is not natural and is instead made of synthetic polyester microfibers. These microfibers are processed to a standard that aims to match the down filling in its supple and luxurious attributes

Known for its hypoallergenic properties, down alternative pillow filling is frequently demanded by those who fear allergic reactions from pure down yet do not aim to compromise on down’s softness. Since these pillows are synthetic and not natural, you can rest assured that your night’s restful sleep didn’t cost a bird its comfort.

However the down alternative comes with its fair share of cons. Unlike a down pillow, these are not highly malleable due to the ability of synthetic fibers to clump together before long and make you feel like your head is resting on cotton balls.

Even the best quality of a down alternative pillow will last for about 1-2 years after which it will start degrading. However, since they are cheaper than a down pillow, replacing them won’t be too heavy on your pocket.

3. Feather pillow filling

Feather pillow filling is another alternative to the down filling, crafted especially for those who cannot afford the luxurious and highly expensive pure down pillow. Feathers taken from the wings and back of the bird are used to make filling for your pillow. Similar to down, feather filling gives the pillow a moldable character, enabling it to adjust its shape according to your head and neck.

Since feathers are known to be less efficient at trapping heat as compared to down, feather filling therefore enables you to sleep cooler without making your pillow warm and uncomfortable, keeping night sweats at bay. A feather pillow however requires even more maintenance because the feathers can easily poke out of the pillow causing discomfort.

Moreover, the higher the number of feathers that escape from your pillow, the less likely it is to hold its shape. Feather pillow filling therefore requires regular fluffing to retain its malleability. Some people even complain about having to bear with an unpleasant odor characteristic of feathers.

4. Polyester fiberfill.

Similar to alternative down filling, polyester fiberfill is also a synthetic pillow stuffing option. However, it is produced to mimic the softness and look of cotton instead of down. Since polyester products are extremely cheap, such pillows are widely available in a larger variety of shapes and sizes.

Unlike its expensive counterparts, a polyester fiberfill pillow is extremely lightweight and washing machine friendly. Polyester fiberfill pillows can be conveniently used by people with respiratory problems, thanks to its hypoallergenic properties. However, these too require significant maintenance since fiberfill tends to lose its shape very easily, the resulting pressure from which on the head and neck can cause pain.

Moreover, due to the lack of breathability of polyester fiberfill, you might find yourself sweaty and clammy upon waking up.

6. Memory foam

People who suffer from sleep apnea or recurring neck and shoulder pains often find memory foam pillows a life-saving option. This is attributed to the ability of memory foam to react to temperature and pressure changes which enables it to mold its shapes according to the contours of the person resting their head or neck on the pillow. Once set in a certain position, it can retain its shape providing firm support to the user.

Unlike most other softer pillow options, memory foam does not require maintenance in terms of regular fluffing, neither do they clump easily, which makes them highly durable and long lasting. However, cleaning memory foam pillows require special protocols.

Some other issues to consider with memory foam fillings include their high density and thus heavy weight, the ability to build up on the body heat and exorbitant cost.

10. Traditional Cotton pillow stuffing

One would think of cotton to be the most common type of filling material for a pillow. On the contrary, polyester and other synthetic counterparts have long since replaced the natural filling type by becoming the cheaper alternative. However, cotton fillings are still preferred by those who can pitch in some extra bucks for a safer and non-toxic pillow filling.

Cotton fillings, being natural, are also recommended to people who develop allergies against the synthetic ones. They are essentially odor free, thereby considerably more comfortable to use.

The most common problem identified with cotton fillings is their steady degradation over time. Cotton fails to retain its fluffiness and forms lumps instead which causes it to become hard. The hard filling therefore needs to be continually replaced with a supple one.

Even though cotton filled pillows are the easiest to maintain since they are machine friendly, they take a long time to dry and can also lose their shape after a few washes.

So What is the Best Pillow Stuffing Material?

There’s no single best pillow stuffing that works for all. Since different people are allergic to different types of products and have varying preferences for sleeping comfortably, the best pillow filling is therefore highly variable.

Looking at it from a broader perspective and excluding the prospect of allergies, people who generally require softer pillows and do not complain of consistent neck or shoulder pains should generally opt for down pillows. Since these are expensive and difficult to afford, their cheaper counterparts such as the feather filled or synthetic ones can also be used.

Whichever pillow stuffing you ultimately choose, make sure to give it a try first before continuing long term use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Which pillow is better, microfiber or polyester?

Microfiber pillow, which is made of a very fine synthetic fiber, is a result of a newer and more sophisticated manufacturing technique, making it a better choice as compared to polyester. These pillows combine the breathability of cotton filling and the softness and longevity of down, to create a highly efficient pillow material. Polyester on the other hand is known for its gradual degradation and shorter lifespan.

2.How much stuffing goes in a pillow?

The amount of stuffing you need for your pillow generally depends on your personal preference. If you prefer pillows with a harder feel, you would be needing more fill. On the contrary, for a softer and more supple effect, you would need your pillow to be less filled. The amount of filling is also dependent on the type of pillow material being used

3. Is sleeping with two pillows bad for your neck?

Whether or not sleeping with two pillows is bad for your neck depends entirely on your sleeping position and pillow thickness. Sometimes additional pillows can assist in maintaining spinal alignment and proper posture. However, if your pillows are too thick, then using two under your head might be an overkill and may cause muscle strain on your back, shoulders, and neck region.

4. How many pillows is too many on a bed?

Over eight pillows on a bed is considered excessive. This is because you will have more pillows than actual bed space for yourself. More importantly, if you are sleeping with eight pillows under your head or other limbs, you are susceptible to severe aches, cramping, or even injury that may take a very long time to heal. It is best to invest in one or two high quality, comfortable pillows for sleeping, and use a selection of bed shams, accent, sheets, cushions, or throw pillows for decorative purposes.


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