While many of us would crave a high fill luxurious down pillow, it can be a little (a lot) outside of our pillow budget. Or maybe you can afford a nice down pillow but had the misfortune of being allergic. Either way, synthetic pillows are probably just as common (if not even more) common than natural pillows, and many people find them highly preferable compared to natural pillows for various reasons, which we will explore in detail later. That said, many people who are interested in switching to a synthetic pillow may become overwhelmed by the number of choices available on the market today. That is why in today’s article, we will be taking a look at the various types of synthetic pillows available on the market today, as well as their associated advantages and drawbacks.
Your basic ‘starter’ pillow, we are sure that almost everyone in the world (or at least America) has slept on a polyester pillow at least a few times in their lives.
Advantages: Polyester pillows are everywhere, meaning they are extremely easy to replace. They are also the most affordable type of pillow (can be as low as half the price of other types of pillows) and they come in many different degrees of firmness, so you have a wide variety of options at your disposal depending on your individual needs. They are the easiest to maintain; machine washable and can dried in the dryer (and quickly too), which is a distinct convenience advantage over most types of pillows.
Drawbacks: Being cheap usually comes with reduced comfort. These pillows, particularly the ones on the lower end, tend to feel lumpy (think hospital or cheap motel pillows), and they can get overheated quite quickly as the material is not that breathable. They are also highly flammable, although some types are treated with flame retardant (check the label). Their shelf life is also short, necessitating replacement every year or two as the synthetic fibers compress easily and turn your once fluffy pillow into a flat yet lumpy burrito. They also don’t cause allergies.
Synthetic Fill Pillows
These are synthetic fibers that were designed to mimic the texture of down.
Advantages: Much more comfortable compared to the regular polyester pillow, being much softer and fluffier. Due to their synthetic nature, consumers also have many options when selecting the desired firmness and loft level of a pillow. Generally though, they tend to be firmer compared to natural down pillows and thus provide more head and neck support. They are also highly durable and easy to maintain; being machine washable just like its polyester cousins. Also doesn’t cause allergies.
Drawbacks: While soft and fluffy, they don’t contour very well which can be a significant cause of discomfort for some, particularly for those with neck or spine issues. Quality is also important, lower quality fibers have a higher tendency to get lumpy. These pillows also have a ‘break-in’ period; people usually need an adjustment period of about one to two weeks to get used to a new pillow. While they come in varying levels of quality and thus, varying levels of price, synthetic fill pillows are, in general, significantly more expensive compared to regular polyester pillows.
Memory Foam Pillows
Developed by NASA so the seats in their shuttle could spring back to their original shape after experiencing multiple Gs of force from the astronauts’ behinds, they came into commercial application with the TempurPedic mattress in the early 1990s. Today, memory foam pillows are ubiquitous, and come in two basic forms, foam and gel. Some memory foam pillows also shred the foam, known as shredded foam memory pillows.
Advantages: A memory foam pillow is naturally firm, meaning it provides excellent head, neck, and spine support, making it the best neck pain pillow by far. These pillows are specifically made for people with neck issues such as slipped or herniated discs. If you’re one of many who wake up with shoulder aches or neck pain, you should definitely consider getting a memory foam pillow. Many people also find its combination of firmness and easiness of contouring makes for a very comfortable slumber experience.
Drawbacks: Many memory foam pillows can become overly hot during the night, which is the most common complaint against memory foam pillows, especially the ‘first-generation’ ones. However, current memory foam pillows do not experience this to the same degree, and the ‘shredded foam’ options, which are increasingly common, also provides increased ventilation within the pillow. Gel memory foam pillows (third-generation memory foam) also stay much cooler throughout the night. Nonetheless, some people find memory foam pillows too soft, particularly for those with heavy skulls. New pillows also give off a distinct chemical odor.