History Of Pillows 🛏️ A Beginner’s Guide

When you think of pillows, you think of relaxing in your comfortable bed. Pillows provide support and cushioning for your head and neck, and they help you sleep better. Although pillows have been around for many years, they haven’t always been the same as they are today. 

The first known pillows were in Mesopotamia, which is modern-day Iraq, in 7000 BC. They were made of stone and supported the head and neck, but they weren’t very comfortable. Only the wealthy had pillows, and their purpose was to keep insects out of their ears, noses, and mouths while they were sleeping. 

Throughout history, the pillow evolved into what it is today. Continue reading to learn all about that process. 

The Pillow in Ancient Civilizations

The first known pillows in 7000 BC were made of stone, and the Mesopotamians used them to prevent bugs and insects from entering the mouth, nose, and eyes during sleep. In ancient Egypt, pillows were made of stone, as well as marble, ceramic, ivory, and wood. These pillows were carved with images of gods, and they rested the heads of people who had died on them to protect them from bad spirits. 

The ancient Chinese civilization also used pillows, and they were made of stone, bamboo, wood, jade, porcelain, and bronze. They decorated them with pictures of people, plants, and animals. They also believed that there were health benefits for people who used pillows, and they varied depending on the materials used. They used hard pillows to bring health and intelligence to people. 

In Japan, the Geishas used pillows, but they were smaller and still hard. They used them to keep their neck elevated when they were sleeping. This way, their hairstyle would remain perfectly intact. 

The first civilizations to use soft pillows were those of ancient Greece and Rome. They took a cloth and filled it with cotton, straw, or reeds, and the wealthy citizens filled them with down feathers. This type of pillow is more similar to what people use today. 

The Pillow During the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, most of the progress and advances of mankind slowed, and this included pillows. Pillows were not commonly used during the Middle Ages in Europe. It was expensive, so only the wealthiest people could use them, and King Henry VIII actually banned its use for everyone with the exception of women who were pregnant. Men viewed pillows as a tool for the weak, so they didn’t want to use them. This lasted until the 16th century when the pillow became more widely used again. 

The Pillow in the Industrial Revolution

When the Industrial Revolution came in the 19th century, everyone had a pillow. Pillows were mass-produced, and they were more affordable. The advances in technology helped bring about these changes. During the Victorian period in England, decorative pillows for furniture were produced. Once pillows became standard in every home, many improvements were made to protect them and make them more supportive. 

At this time, it became normal to have a pillow on the bed, and people also had them on chairs and sofas for decoration. The first-world countries had good pillows that were made from cotton and synthetic materials. They stuffed them with cotton, polyester, down, foam, latex, and more. They were more comfortable, and they tried to make them more sanitary as well. 

Modern Pillows

In modern times, pillows have evolved into many different forms. There are different shapes, including standard pillows, boudoir pillows, neckroll pillows, doughnut pillows, body pillows, and more. In addition, there are different types of fill, including latex, memory foam, goose down, and cool-gel. No matter what size or shape your body is, there is a pillow that can help you sleep better and more comfortably. 

Types of Pillows

There are different types of pillows that work best for different people. Whether you sleep on your back or your side, or if you snore or have an injury that you are recovering from, there is a pillow for you. Take a look at the following types of pillows made with different materials. 

People who sleep on their sides do well with medium-soft pillows, while those who sleep on their backs do best with medium firmness. If you sleep on your stomach, you will want a pillow that is medium to firm. Take a look at some of the different pillow types and their features. 

Down Pillows

These pillows are made from the down that comes from geese, ducks, or swans. You should always look at the down to feathers ratio as down is often blended with feathers. They should also be ethically sourced because down comes from animals. 

Down pillows are easy to mold, and they provide good head and neck support. They are durable and lightweight, and they are soft. They are also insulating. You do have to fluff them, and they are not easy to clean. In addition, some people are allergic to down. However, these pillows are one of the most popular, and they are good for people who sleep on their sides, backs, and stomachs. In fact, because they are soft and easy to mold, they are ideal for stomach sleepers. 

Down Alternative Pillows

These pillows are similar to down, but they are synthetic. They are usually filled with polyester, and they feel very similar to down. They are hypoallergenic, and they are also more affordable. One of the benefits is their affordability, and they are easy to clean and hypoallergenic. 

They are great for people who are allergic to down. However, they have less insulation, and they can develop lumps over time. This type of pillow works best for people who sleep on their backs or their sides. 

Feather Pillows

If you want a pillow that gives you support without losing shape, feather pillows are a great option. They are comfortable and supportive, and they work well as long as you aren’t allergic to them. They are often affordable, and they are lightweight. They hold their shape, but they are easy to mold. 

Keep in mind that they will retain your body heat and they are difficult to clean. They also need to be fluffed. They work best for people who sleep on their backs and sides, and they are similar to down. They have a higher loft, which makes them more supportive. 

Cotton Pillows

Cotton pillows used to be a lot more popular than they are today. New technology has made it possible to have pillows made of other materials that are easier to care for and more supportive. However, there are benefits to using cotton materials, especially if you are allergic to synthetic materials. Cotton pillows tend to be hypoallergenic, and they are made with light, breathable fabric. They don’t emit an odor, and they are easy to wash. 

At the same time, they must be cleaned regularly because they can accumulate dust mites and mold, and they can become lumpy over time. They don’t contour to your head and neck, which can make them less comfortable. They work for all types of sleepers, but they aren’t going to mold to your head, neck, or body the way other types of pillows will. 

Latex Pillows

Latex pillows are a newer type of pillow, and they are growing more popular because they are very supportive. They are comfortable and soft, and they mold to your head and neck. They come with material that is shredded or solid. It is important to pay attention to how the pillow is made because some are blended with polyurethane foam, which can be less safe. 

These pillows are durable, easy to mold, breathable, cooling, and biodegradable. However, they can emit an odor, and they have the potential to cause allergic reactions. They are also very expensive. They have a higher loft than other pillows, so they are best for people who sleep on their sides and backs. 

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows are also growing in popularity because they can form to your body. This means that no matter how you prefer to sleep, you can have the support you need. Your head and neck can fit naturally and comfortably. They offer pain relief by holding your body firmly in position, and they contour to your body. They don’t clump. The only downside is that they can retain body heat and make you hot while you are sleeping. 

Shredded Memory Foam Pillows

As an alternative to memory foam pillows, shredded memory foam pillows were created. With these pillows, you can add or remove part of the filling, which means they are customizable. They are also very easy to mold, and they don’t clump. This type of pillow is easy to clean. You have to be cautious of chemical off-gassing, and they can wear out over time. They work best for people who sleep on their backs or sides.

Bamboo Pillows

Another type of pillow that is rising in popularity is the bamboo pillow. They have antimicrobial properties, and they are excellent at absorbing moisture. They are usually made with a bamboo shell and stuffed with shredded foam. This combines the technologies of two pillow types to improve your sleeping experience. 

The benefits are that they are antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and they wick moisture and cool you while you sleep. You do have to be aware of potential chemical off-gassing, and they are difficult to clean and heavy. They are dense, which makes them a little too firm for people who sleep on their sides or stomachs, but they work well for people who sleep on their backs. 

Gel Pillows

Another popular modern pillow is the gel pillow. They are best known for their ability to keep you cool while you are sleeping. They are often made by combining gel with foam or latex to soften the pillow while still allowing it to mold. This way, they are firm and soft, and supportive at the same time. They mold your body.

These pillows are hypoallergenic, cooling, and easy to take care of. However, they are expensive, and some people find them uncomfortable because they are too firm. They are ideal for people who sleep on their backs or stomachs. Those who sleep on their sides find them too firm. 

Polyester Pillows

These pillows are also called poly-fill pillows, and they are a good choice for people who are looking for a less expensive pillow. They are light and hypoallergenic, but they can absorb heat and become lumpy. They don’t last very long. They work for any sleeping position.

Buckwheat Pillows

These pillows originated in Asia, and they are emerging in other continents for several reasons. They are made with buckwheat shell filling because it allows breathability and is still firm. They last a long time, and they are easy to mold. They also have cooling properties. However, they can be noisy, and they are heavy. Some people find them uncomfortable because they are too firm. They are better for you if you sleep on your back or stomach, as they can be too firm if you sleep on your side.

Microbead Pillows

Finally, another new type of pillow is the microbead pillow. They feel similar to how buckwheat pillows feel, but they are filled with uniform polymer particles. This is a synthetic material that is still breathable and moldable. They are firm and offer support, but they can lose shape faster. They don’t last long, and they can retain heat. You also need to look out for chemical off-gassing. As with the buckwheat pillows, they aren’t ideal for people who sleep on their sides because they are too firm. 

Final Words

Pillows have come a long way from the stone headstands that people first used more than 9,000 years ago. As technology has improved, the concept has evolved so that pillows can provide you with the best option for a good night’s sleep. 


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