Pillow Filling Materials
The pillow's filling material provides the overall support and comfort of the pillow. Pillows can be filled with natural or synthetic materials. Natural materials include cotton, wool, duck or goose down and feathers. These are the softest pillows on the market. Cotton filling provides a firmer, flatter pillow that holds its shape reasonably well. Cotton is also cooler and "breathes" better than other materials. These types of pillows are best for individuals who require firm support while sleeping. Wool provides a fuller feeling pillow and wool is also durable, maintains warmth and absorbs moisture away from the surface of the pillow. Down pillows are the softest and provide a "light as air" feeling. Down filled pillows can be "squished" and reshaped often and the down should not bunch or clump.
Down is a common allergen, thus the effectiveness of "hypoallergenic down pillows" is debatable. Some pillow manufacturers claim to use special cleaning techniques to remove dust from the down (as they argue it is actually the dust and not the down that is the allergen). Others state that a hypoallergenic down pillow is impossible as both down and dust are true allergens. In any event, use your judgment. If you are allergic to either down or dust you will likely want to avoid down pillows altogether. The best thing to do would be to try one out and see if it works. If it does cause you to suffer more from allergies, surely there is someone who would be grateful for a new pillow.
Synthetic pillow filling materials include foam, latex and polyester. In the case of polyester, the filling can be 100% polyester or a polyester/cotton blend. Polyester fibers are often arranged in three-dimensional clusters that help the pillow hold its shape and provide optimal neck support. Synthetic materials have some benefits over natural fibers; they are allergy and odor free, they tend to last longer and they are generally more affordable.
The type of pillow filling you choose will highly depend on your personal preference and how much money you are willing to spend. Down pillows generally cost more than cotton or wool pillows, so you may want to take this into consideration when purchasing these items. Choose carefully, the pillows you choose can have a great impact on the quality of sleep you receive.