What Is A Pillow Insert? 🛏️ What You Need To Know

When you sleep at night, the quality of your sleep depends on a number of factors. You need to consider your mattress, your sheets and blankets, and your pillows. Choosing a pillow is more than choosing the size and shape; there are many different types of pillows on the market. Your pillow insert determines how well your pillow meets your needs. 

A pillow insert is the filling inside of your pillow. It can be made from many different materials, including down, poly-fill, memory foam, gel, and more. Each type has benefits and drawbacks, and they determine how well your head and neck are supported while you sleep. It is important to understand the different types and what they can do for you.

You should learn everything you can about the benefits of different pillow inserts so that you can select the one that is best for your needs or preferences. Continue reading to learn what you need to know about pillow inserts. 

What Is a Pillow Insert?

A pillow insert is the filling inside of your pillow. It will determine how soft or firm your pillow is, and it influences your level of comfort. There are different materials for people with different needs. The fill is usually inside the casing, and then you can use a pillow protector and pillowcase. 

Many factors help you decide what is the best pillow insert for your needs. If you have allergies, there are insert materials that you should avoid, and you should choose a hypoallergenic fill. If you have back pain, you might want a firm fill that can offer more support, and if you get hot when you sleep, you may want a pillow insert with cooling properties. 

There are many different types of pillow inserts on the market today, so it is important to understand what they are and what they can do. 

Types of Pillow Inserts

Take a look at the different pillow inserts that are available.


Most people are familiar with down pillow inserts. Down is the soft fibers that are around the chest of the bird near its skin. It can be called the undercoating of a bird, and it usually comes from ducks, geese, or swans. Higher quality down is often referred to as Hungarian goose down or European white goose down. The down keeps birds warm because it has an insulating quality. Some down pillow inserts are mixed with feathers, and they will show the ratio. It is important to know the ratio when you are choosing this type of pillow insert. 

There are several benefits to using down. It is soft and lightweight, and it offers insulation and warmth. It is a great choice for people who sleep on their stomachs because it offers cushioning. This type of pillow also lasts longer than synthetic versions. 

However, some people are allergic to down. In addition, these pillow inserts are hard to clean, and they can be expensive. You need to fluff them to keep their shape. 

Poly-Fill (Down Alternative)

Poly-fill is a synthetic type of pillow insert, and it is usually made with polyester. This type of pillow is meant to resemble a down pillow, but without the allergens. They are soft yet supportive, and they are more affordable. They retain their shape well, and they are easy to clean. The only real drawback is that they don’t have the same insulation as down. 

Feather Filling

When you choose a feather pillow insert, it is filled with feathers from the wings and the backs of ducks or geese. The feathers have quills and are flat, and they are fluffy and soft. They are larger in the clusters, and they are able to hold their shape longer than down. They are more commonly used than down because they are stronger, and they bounce back when pressure is applied. 

That said, they can make you hotter when you are sleeping. You will need to fluff them because they flatten pretty easily. You need to look for quills sticking out through the pillowcase, and they can cause allergies. 

Memory Foam 

Memory foam pillow inserts are made from polyurethane, which is a chemical that is sometimes called visco-elastic. It is manmade, and it can retain heat. These pillows contour to the shape of your head and neck when they are activated by your body heat. They offer support, and they come in a range of forms. 

You can get them as slim pillows or lofty ones, and they come in different shapes. They are designed to support and align the back and spine. They are durable and help relieve pain. They have a range of health benefits. 

They do lack breathability because they are made with a solid piece of foam. People who sleep on their stomachs sometimes think they are too firm. 

Shredded Memory Foam 

This type of material is designed to alleviate the problem of using a single piece of foam. The shredded pieces make it more flexible and adjustable, and it allows you to mold the pillow for different sleeping positions. It is not as firm as a memory foam pillow, but it is still dense and responsive and can be shaped easily. 

This type of pillow insert is great for people who sleep on their sides and backs, and they are easy to clean and take care of. They offer support, and they are easily molded and shaped. 

The only downside is that they need fluffing because they can flatten as time goes by. They also take a lot of time to dry when you wash them. 


Buckwheat is starting to be used by more people. This type of pillow insert is filled with buckwheat hulls, which are the outer shells of buckwheat seeds. They are hard, and they are natural. They have good breathability, so they allow airflow. They are hypoallergenic, and they offer support. They are easy to mold and durable, and they help you keep your spine aligned. 

Some people dislike how they make noise when the hulls rub against each other. They can feel crunchy, and they are heavier than other materials. 


Microbead pillow inserts are made with small polystyrene beads. This is a popular material for travel pillows in particular. They are breathable and offer airflow. They are easy to mold to any shape, and they offer support. However, they aren’t eco-friendly because the beads have very slow biodegradability. If there is a hole and the beads escape, it can be hard to clean up. 


Kapok is a fiber that comes from the mature seed pods of the ceiba tree in the rainforest. These pillows are similar to cotton, and they are soft and lightweight. They are also hypoallergenic. People often choose this type of pillow insert when they want something natural. They have a good loft and maintain their shape easily. They are naturally biodegradable, and this makes them eco-friendly. 

The biggest drawback to this material is that it can be flammable, and they need to be fluffed from time to time. They are often more expensive than other materials. 


Latex comes from a rubber tree that is called the Hevea Brasiliensis tree. They are popular because they are natural, soft, supportive, and long-lasting. They are durable and offer some breathability. They also hold their shape and are responsive. 

When you find latex blended with other materials, such as polyurethane foam, they are less durable. They don’t offer a lot of airflow, and they are heavier than down and poly-fill pillow inserts. People can have latex allergies, as well. 


This type of pillow insert is filled with water. They maintain their consistency, and it doesn’t matter how much pressure you apply. You can choose your comfort level by choosing how much water to fill inside. They are supportive of the head and neck, and they won’t move around. You won’t need to fluff them, and they are hypoallergenic. The only downside is that if they leak, they can ruin your mattress. 


This type of pillow insert is filled with gel-infused fibers, and it has gel layers that help the pillow stay cool. They draw the heat in from the surface of your skin, and it gives you a cooling sensation. They don’t require any fluffing, and they can relieve pressure. They are also easy to clean and hypoallergenic. Some people don’t like them because they don’t sink into the pillow as they do others. 


Wool is a natural fiber that comes from sheep. It has many uses, including pillow inserts. They are soft and breathable, and they regulate body temperature. They do compress over time, but this doesn’t make them less supportive. They are eco-friendly, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. They are resistant to dust mites, and they are a natural flame retardant. However, they absorb odors and can only be dry cleaned. 

Normal Sizes for Pillow Inserts

There are standard sizes for pillow inserts, which include the following:

  • Standard
  • Super standard
  • Queen
  • King
  • Body

They have different purposes, and they work well for different people. You want to consider your mattress size and what you are looking for in a pillow when you are choosing. 

  • Standard Pillow Size: Standard size pillows are usually 20 x 26 inches. They work well on twin and full size mattresses, and this is the smallest size. 
  • Super Standard Pillow Size: This size is 20 x 28 inches, and it falls between the standard and queen for people who need a few more inches. 
  • Queen Pillow Size: These pillows are 20 x 30 inches, and they are best for queen size mattresses. 
  • King Pillow Size: These are large pillows at 20 x 36 inches. You also need to buy special pillow cases to fit on them. 
  • Body Pillow Size: This pillow is 20 x 54 inches, and it is designed for you to hold against your entire body. It is great for spinal alignment while you are sleeping. 

Throw Pillows

You often hear about pillow inserts when people are choosing them for throw pillows. You can also make a pillow using a pillow insert. Throw pillows can add decor to any room in your house. You can place them on your couch, a chair, or a bed, and they come in different sizes. 

If you are looking for a full pillow, you will want to choose a pillow insert that is two inches larger than the pillow cover. For example, if your pillow cover is 20 x 20 inches, then you should choose a pillow insert that is 22 x 22 inches. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pillow Insert

When you are choosing a pillow insert, you need to decide on more than the type of fill and the size. It is important to consider the weight and density, your sleeping style, and how much temperature regulation you want and need. 

The fill density will determine the firmness level and your pillow’s responsiveness. Some fill materials, such as memory foam or latex, have medium firmness and density, whereas down is lighter and softer. If you want firm pillows with high density, you can choose cotton or wool. 

The fill weight tells you how much of the filling your pillow insert contains. When it has a higher fill weight, it makes the pillow more durable and supportive. 

Sleeping Style

People who sleep on their backs will prefer a medium thickness pillow to help keep their spines aligned with their heads and necks. Side sleepers like a slightly thick and firm pillow, while stomach sleepers may want a body pillow to place under their knees. 

Final Words

When you are looking for a pillow, you need to choose the best pillow insert for your needs. You can cover it with a pillow protector and pillowcase, but you need to know what you want. Choose the best material and size, and then look at the density and fill weight. Having the right pillow insert is the key to a good night’s sleep. 


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Team SafeSleep

Hi! We're a team of scientists, doctors, teachers, and coaches experienced in helping people with special needs. We hope you like our research and share it with others who might find it helpful too :)

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