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Types of Bed Pillows

Using the right pillows can make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. To help you select the right ones for your bed, we at west elm have created this handy pillow buying guide. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of pillows that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Pillow Types

Pillows are available in different sizes to accommodate different mattress sizes and sleeping styles. Choosing the right pillow size for your bed will ensure you get a good night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Following are the five most common pillow sizes that are available in North America -- standard, queen, king and European -- as well as the different types of decorative pillows that can be purchased.

Standard - Standard pillows are generally the smallest bed pillows, with measurements ranging from 20 x 26 inches to 20 x 28 inches. These pillows are designed to sit perfectly side-by-side on a full-sized bed, but a single standard pillow will also work well on a twin-sized mattress. Standard pillows can be paired with queen-sized pillowcases without any reduction in sleep comfort.

Queen - Queen pillows are only slightly larger than standard pillowcases, measuring 20 x 30 inches. These pillows are designed to fit side-by-side on a full or queen-sized bed. Despite being slightly longer than a standard-sized pillow, a queen pillow will still fit inside of a standard-sized pillowcase.

King - King pillows are the largest bed pillows, measuring 20 x 36 inches. Their long length allows them to be placed side-by-side on a king-sized mattress with no extra room on either side of the pillows. King-sized pillows also tend to contain more filling, making this pillow size ideal for sleepers who require extra neck and shoulder support.

European - A European pillow, or Euro pillow, is a square-shaped pillow that is primarily used as a decorative accent. Euro pillows traditionally measure 26 x 26 inches. they are usually placed behind standard, queen and king-sized pillows to add visual interest to the pillow arrangement.

Decorative - Although decorative pillows are most commonly found in 18" x "18 and 20" x 20" varieties, larger pillows are also available. As their name suggests, decorative pillows are designed to add color, texture or dimension to your pillow arrangement. Decorative pillows can also be propped under hips, knees or elbows for added joint support throughout the night.

Fill Types

The filling used in your pillows will determine their density and firmness. Following is a brief description of the most common fill types that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Feather - Feather pillows are filled with the feathers of ducks, geese and other waterfowl. These pillows are very durable, with a lifespan of two to three years. They are also highly moldable, allowing the sleeper to "scrunch" them into a comfortable shape. Feather-filled pillows can be difficult to wash, however, as the feathers repel water and cause the pillow to float in top-loading washing machines. Feather-filled pillows also trap body heat, making them a poor choice for "hot" sleepers.

Down - Down pillows are filled with the soft, fluffy protective covering found on the belly of a bird. Despite being lighter than feather-filled pillows, down pillows are very durable and malleable. Down-filled pillows can be difficult to clean, although using a pillow protector can help extend the time between washings.

Down Alternative - Down alternative pillows are filled with tufts of polyester that mimic the fluffiness of natural down. These pillows are a great alternative to feather-filled and down-filled pillows for sleepers who suffer from allergies. Down alternative also makes for a cooler sleep experience than down and feathers. Although down alternative pillows are much cheaper than down- and feather-filled pillows, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than pillows with natural filling.

Memory Foam - Memory foam-filled pillows are stuffed with shredded pieces of polyurethane that move around independently, allowing the pillow to be easily molded. These pillows are available in different densities to provide varying degrees of neck support. They also retain their shape better than other types of pillows, which can flatten or become lumpy over time.

Choosing the right pillows is the key to waking up well rested and ready to face the day. Keep the above options in mind when deciding which pillow types are best for you.