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What Is The Best Pillow Filler For You?

Feb 24, 2023

hotel room with bed near table under lamps | What Is The Best Pillow Filler For You | Featured

The best pillow filler for you will depend on what you need. Do you need support for your neck pain or do you need something cool to rest on?

Whatever it is, we break down what pillow works best for your specific needs.

RELATED: Advantages of Using A Nano Gel Pillow And How Can It Make You Sleep Better?

Best Pillow Filler for Hot Sleepers

Nano Gel Pillows

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Gel fibers are usually added to memory foam or latex foam pillows to keep your pillow from overheating. They pull heat from your body to keep you cool as you rest.

Gel pillow inserts are usually made with foam materials to provide you with a lofty, pressure-relieving sleeping surface. This makes it ideal for bed-ridden sleepers nursing an injury or a bad back. The foam insert will provide you with unyielding support, while gel beads keep you cool even with your back pressed against your pillow for hours at a time.

Most gel pillows are made with other hypoallergenic materials, like latex foam, memory foam, or down alternative.

The downside — is off-gassing, not machine washable.

Because they’re usually paired with foam materials, they may release an odor the moment you open the packaging. And you may have to wait it out for up to three days because you can’t machine wash them either.

But if you want a durable, heavy-duty pillow that will give you both a super comfy and pressure-relieving sleeping surface, a nano gel pillow is our choice pick.


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Cotton fabrics are naturally cool and breathable. They’re often made dense, giving you pressure relief and a balanced sleeping surface. Allergy-prone sleepers can also cuddle with their pillow because they’re typically hypoallergenic (just make the pillowcase allergy-friendly too).

These pillows are very affordable and very easy to find. Unlike memory foam, they are odorless as you unbox them. And if you do want to freshen it up, you can toss it into the washing machine for both washing and drying.

The downside — is not durable.

Cotton pillows are due for replacement within two years after you buy them. They’re soft, plush, and dense straight out of the box. But over time, they’ll grow lumpy and uncomfy.

Best Pillow Filler for Neck, Shoulder, or Pain

Memory Foam

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Most known as the pillow filler that NASA made, memory foam pillows are great at cradling your aching muscles and providing you with reliable support.

You may notice that these pillows have a large hump where the curve of your neck would be. Other pillows may also taper towards your neck. Unlike other pillows stuffed with loose materials, memory foam pillows are one piece of memory foam with an intentionally designed shape. With firm support and a shape that holds, this pillow stuffing is best for sleepers dealing with neck, back, or shoulder pain.

The downside — is off-gassing odor, sleeping hot, price tag, and longevity.

Once you unpack your new memory foam pillow, you will notice a strange odor. Don’t worry! It happens with mattresses too, is perfectly normal, and will be good to go in about three days.

The material is also known to retain heat. But this isn’t a complete deal breaker for many brands. You can still get the awesome benefits of memory foam if you find a pillow that’s also packed with cooling gels. These gels blend well with memory foam, also capable of providing heft support as well as a cool sleeping surface.

Memory foam pillows typically come with a hefty price tag and a short lifespan. These pillows typically last three years until they lose their shape. That said, with that premium price, you’re still sure to get your money’s worth.

Latex Foam

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Unlike memory foam, latex foam pillows are often shredded. This means they’re moldable and adjustable to the height and shape that works for you. It also means they’re ideal for all types of sleepers — back sleepers, side sleepers, starfish sleepers, log sleepers, and so on.

Because they’re both firm and adjustable, they’re also ideal for sleepers dealing with chronic pain. But at the same time, they’re soft and plush, making them great for sleepers that just want comfort. This pillow stuffing is flexible, versatile, and suits all types of sleepers.

They’re also much better at staying cool than memory foam. Even if you tend to sleep hot, you can stay cool with a latex foam pillow. However, make sure to wrap it in a breathable pillowcase as well.

Natural and biodegradable latex pillows tick boxes for sleepers that are looking for both eco-friendly and allergy-friendly pillow fillers.

The downside — is the price; not easy to wash.

Latex pillows are not machine washable. And if you do get them dirty, their casing is often not removable. For spills, immediately dab the fluid, and make sure not to spread it. Keep in mind that pillows do expire and a stain you can’t wash away eats away at its useful life. And because they often come with a hefty price tag, they may not be easy to replace for many sleepers.

RELATED: The Science Behind Memory Foam Mattress

Best Pillow Filler for Allergy-Prone & Health Conscious Sleepers

Down Alternative

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In the market for a down pillow but are allergic to down pillow fillers? A down alternative pillow may be your best option.

It still boasts the soft and cushiony feel you love from down pillows but without the sniffles.

Where down pillows have whole feathers, down alternatives have synthetic polyester fibers and cotton to give you a similar effect. And while down does not trap as much heat as memory foam, it can still grow warm at night. But with a breathable down alternative pillow, you won’t have the same problem.

Because the pillow fibers are loose, you can shape them however you want. Note, however, that it won’t retain the shape for long.

The downside — low to no support, flattens quickly.

While the loose stuffing allows you to mold your pillow, this also means that it’s incapable of providing you with support and pressure relief. If you’re a side sleeper and need a lofty pillow, you can purchase a high-loft down alternative. Manufacturers fill your pillow with more cotton and polyester to give you a taller pillow, but it will flatten over time.

Down alternative is very affordable — a benefit you may fully take advantage of since it’s not very durable.

Still, down alternatives are great pillows for back sleepers that don’t need lofty pillows. Allergy-prone sleepers can also take comfort in the fact that this pillow filler type is generally hypoallergenic. And for hot sleepers, this pillow provides a cool and comfortable sleeping surface.


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Along with durability and softness, more and more sleepers are placing eco-friendliness at the top of their list.

Bamboo fibers provide you with the supportive feel of memory foam and the plush comfort of a cotton or down pillow. But unlike memory foam, it’s fairly light and has an adjustable loft.

Durable and supportive, bamboo pillows made purely of bamboo fiber fillers can provide outstanding support. And with a shape you can mold to your liking, you will find that it can comfortably cradle your neck and head. And for side sleepers, a lofty bamboo pillow can provide pressure relief for your neck.

This organic fiber is also antimicrobial to give you a completely sanitary sleeping surface.

The downside — all this quality comes at a cost.

Bamboo bedding, be it your duvet, sheets, or pillow filler, are pricey. However, when well cared for, your bamboo bedding can live as long as your Serta mattress.

Keep in mind that not all bamboo pillows are made sustainably. Make sure to do your research before subscribing to a brand.

The price tag may put you off, but consider that we spend a third of our lives in bed — wouldn’t you want to spend that on a cool, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and eco-friendly sleeping surface?

Choosing Your Pillow Filler

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Work backward when deciding between pillow fillers.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I deal with any neck, shoulder, or back pain?
  • Do I need something that will keep me cool the entire night?
  • How often have I been replacing my pillows? Was the cost worth it?
  • How important is quality over price to me?
  • Have I been struggling with allergies while using my current bedding?

Reflect on your answers then choose the pillow that ticks all your boxes. But don’t forget that your pillowcase is almost as important as your pillow filler. Choosing the wrong pillow cover can make your pillow hotter and rougher and can trigger your allergies.

A great pillow protector can also protect your investment, keeping your pillow truly sanitary and prolonging its life.

While choosing the right pillow filler can lead you to your new favorite pillow, also take into consideration that sleep science and technology have greatly advanced — and so have pillow manufacturers. Premium pillows are a concert of multiple high-tech materials, cooling fabrics, and pressure-relieving innovations.

Instead of narrowing your focus on the type of filler you want, go back to your wish list and look for pillow models that meet your needs.

Memory foam pillows are often paired with cooling gels so that you can get both pressure relief and a cooler sleeping surface. A down alternative and gel pillow combination can also give you a denser sleeping surface.

It may take some trial and error, but once you find your dream pillow, you’ll find that dreamland is never too far away.

Suite dreams!

What do you look for in a pillow filler? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.