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Beds & Bedding

Which Type Of Natural Pillow Is Best For You?


Have you been pillow shopping lately? Or just taken a look at the types of pillows on offer when browsing through your local Bed Bath & Beyond? Well if you have, you would know that we consumers are faced with almost endless choices when it comes to pillows: do you want feathers, down, latex, polyester, or memory foam filling? Cooling gel pad included? What is the loft of this pillow? Not that I’m complaining about the large amount of choices of course, but it can be a daunting task thinking about which pillow to choose when you have so many to choice. No one wants to succumb to buyer’s remorse, and buyer’s remorse is naturally more easily felt when you have more options. Therefore, we will give you a quick rundown of the various types of pillows as well as their associated pros and cons. For this article we will be focusing on ‘natural stuffing’  or ‘organic’ pillows only.

Down and Feather Pillows

feather-pillowsFor those who enjoy that luxurious feel. Down is made from the tufts from the underside of the bird and do not have quill shafts, making them softer than feathers. As such they are usually the most expensive type of pillow, although there are cheaper options that use a combination of both. These pillows are differentiated by fill power (ounces of down per pillow), which determines the pillow’s fluffiness. Generally speaking, the higher the fill power (and weight) of the pillow, the more expensive and higher quality it is.

Pros: Extremely fluffy and soft, generally high loft (the height of a pillow when laid flat) and if you take care of it extremely durable. Down and feather pillows with good fill power make excellent side sleeper pillows due to their high loft. Pillows with high loft are generally better for side sleepers because of the straightened alignment that the neck and shoulders will have. For some of the best pillows for side sleepers, check out this link.

Cons: Can feel hot and sweaty during the summer months or if you live in a tropical climate. Because they are so easily moldable, changing positions during the night can be tedious as you have to constantly coax the pillow into the desired shape. Further, its softness can also be a drawback for people with heavier heads, who may find the neck support provided inadequate for their needs.

Cotton Pillows

Cotton pillows are probably the most common natural pillow.

Pros: Cheaper compared to down and feather pillows, more firm with a lower loft which some people might prefer.

Cons:  Compresses easily which can make them feel overly firm or lumpy. It also does not contour easily to the curvature of the neck, spine, or head. Cotton is also highly absorbent, and without regular cleaning, the excessive moisture creates a suitable environment for various molds and dust mites to flourish.

Wool Pillows

Wool pillows are similar to cotton pillows, but are less absorbent and more breathable. They are also significantly heavier.

Pros: As wool is a natural insulator (that’s why we wear it in winter months!), it doesn’t transfer heat easily meaning that you won’t wake up at night due to an overly warm pillow. Wool pillows stay warm in the winter but cool in the summer.

Cons: Similar to cotton, wool easily compresses which can make the pillow feel too hard and lumpy. Wool pillows are also rather heavy and do not contour to the body’s natural curvature easily.

Buckwheat Hull Pillows

buckwheat-in-pillowFor those not in the know, buckwheat is a seed and not a grain (meaning it is not related to wheat at all). Buckwheat can be used to make buckwheat flour (which is gluten-free for all you hippies and hipsters out there) while the hulls of the seed are used to make pillows.

Pros: Because each hull is so small, buckwheat hull pillows can easily be contoured to the curvature of the head, neck, and spin, providing a very high degree of spinal support. And despite being easily contoured, buckwheat hulls do not compress so the level of spinal support would remain constant throughout the night. And if you are one of those people who constantly wakes up in the middle of the night due to a sweaty and overheated pillow, buckwheat hulls are an excellent options as they are the driest and coolest organic pillows around. The structure of the hulls allow for excellent ventilation. They are also highly durable and can last for 10 years or more. You can also remove and add buckwheat hulls to your pillow to alter its loft according to your needs.

Cons: The firm neck and spine support may prove to be a little too firm for some. An unavoidable side effect of the use of the hulls is that when you shift positions, the pillow makes little crunchy noises, which may not be ideal for very light sleepers. Many buckwheat pillows are also said to have an ‘earthy’ smell.