There are two types of pillows: sleeping pillows and special needs pillows. There are also many different types of material that pillows are made from including visco-elastic memory foam, polyester, down, gel and latex.
Because we work extensively with health professionals we are mainly concerned about pillows that help provide a great night’s sleep with enhanced comfort and good sleeping posture. This is largely achieved by sleeping on the correct ‘Contour Pillow’ which is also referred to as a Neck or Cervical Pillow.
- Contour Pillows
Cervical or Contour are shaped to accommodate the natural contours of the head, neck and in certain cases the shoulders. They are usually higher at one side and drop in the centre where the head sits. This provides for greater support under the neck as well as comfortable positioning of the cervical spine and for this reason they are also often known as neck pillows. Contour pillows are usually made from foam, memory foam, gel or latex, or a combination. When these pillows are used to help alleviate a medical condition such as jaw tension and pain, headaches, migraines, insomnia, shoulder pain, snoring, sleep apnoea and other conditions they may be referred to as Orthopaedic or Therapeutic Pillows.
- Classic Pillows
Classic Pillows are pillows without a contour. These may be good for sleeping on your back or tummy (which is not recommended under most circumstances). Generally a contour pillow is preferred for a better, healthier sleep posture as a classic styled pillow will not provide the same level of support to your neck.
Special Needs Pillows
A special needs pillow is one that has been designed for a specific purpose. These include the dynamically-shaped Sona anti-snore pillow for sleep apnea sufferers, pillows designed for pregnancy or breast-feeding, and pillows designed to assist back sufferers. Usually made from foams, they are uniquely shaped and purpose-designed.
We are continually reviewing existing and new product available to bring you a comprehensive range.
Materials commonly used in pillows
We have put together a summary of the many materials that make up pillows today, used alone or in combination.
Visco-elastic is the result of adding chemicals to polyurethane that increase its viscosity level, thereby increasing its density. Depending on the chemicals used and its overall density, it is firmer in cool temperatures and softer when warm. Higher density visco-elastic foam reacts to body heat which allows it to mould itself to the shape of a warm body within a few minutes. Lower density visco-elastic foam is pressure-sensitive and will mould more quickly to the shape of the body. The example often used to demonstrate visco-elastic properties is a hand pressed into the foam and then removed, leaving a clear impression in the foam. The main advantage of visco-elastic pillows is that by moulding to your shape, they help achieve neutral spinal alignment quickly and comfortably. Visco-elastic is often referred to as ‘memory foam’.
Latex is a milky white liquid that is extracted from the rubber tree, Heveabrasiliensis. This is obtained by tapping into the bark of the tree and collecting the residual resin. This milky white sap contains small rubber particles dispersed in water, which is then converted into a moulded pillow by adding certain fillers and chemicals. The level of chemicals added determines to what extent the latex pillow can be considered a natural latex pillow.
Feathers have quills and are two-dimensional in appearance. They are the rigid plumage found on the exterior of waterfowl, and can range in size from one inch to several inches. Down is found on the belly of ducks and geese and is the light fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of waterfowl that protect them from the elements. Feather and down pillows may be very comfortable and warm, but they offer very little support for the neck and spine
These pillows are filled with tiny polyester particles and filled to various heights and densities that will help alter the feel of the pillow. This used to be the dominant filling; however, In recent times high tech foams and latex have become more popular, largely due to being more resilient and offering better support.
Gel is made from Silicone or Polyurethane materials. By nature Gel is neither a solid, nor a liquid, and its substance provides the benefit of body temperature regulation. It is used more and more in mattresses and pillows for its cooling properties as well as its ability to offer wonderful pressure relief.