Pillows in short, as most commonly known, are soft supports for the head during sleep or lying in bed. The main purpose of a pillow is to provide physical support to the head or the body during sleep, nap, rest, or other leisure activities in lying down or sitting positions. It can also have a purely decorative function. Culturally, the uses and forms of pillows can be even broader. They can be used for comfort and games, as well as for therapeutic purposes. Very interesting is to know that the first pillows were made from hard materials while the soft versions we know as the standard today have only evolved with the course of development of human civilizations. Pillows are types of cushions used in beds to provide head and body support during sleep mainly, whereas the cushion is a broader term for a comfort or support provider to the body during interaction with other types of furniture or surfaces in and outside of the home. Cushions are also a major part of the decoration of the rooms nowadays. A bolster is usually for ancillary support and can be used as a pillow or cushion for sleeping or decorative purposes.
BED / SLEEPING PILLOW
A main pillow type and an element of bedding for head and neck support, which usual shape is rectangle or square, and can be also found in the form of a bolster. While its size is determined by that of the bed, it in its turn gives the size of the cover that contains it. The choice will depend on sleeping positions whether back, front, side or a combination of these. Bolster pillows are regionally known as traversin or polochon in France where they are mostly used as bed or sleeping pillows.
A main pillow type which is primarily used as part of the decoration of rooms and domestic spaces. Usual locations where it is found can be on beds, sofas, chairs, benches,window seats, and other pieces of sitting furniture. It can be additionally used for sleeping or orthopaedic purposes. Shapes can be different, but the usual are square and circle. Decorative pillows can come in the form of cushions and bolsters.
THROW / TOSS PILLOW SCATTER CUSHION
A decorative pillow or cushion that is placed mainly on sofas, couches, benches, chairs and armchairs, and other sitting pieces of furniture in the particular random or loose manner that the name suggests. This way, it can create a casual decorating effect and be relocated as required. As a furnishing element of the Interior Design, it is available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, textures, colours and decoration styles. However, the most common type is the small square cushion. It can be without opening or with a separate filler and cover. Functionally, it is also used to provide support for the back, arms, neck and head.
A decorative pillow used as an accent to emphasize certain parts of the home decor.
SOFA / COUCH PILLOW
A decorative pillow likely to be found and used on sofas and couches.
A decorative pillow that is used on the floor. It is usually larger in size.
A decorative pillow that can be also used to support the neck. It usually has a cylindrical shape.
NOVELTY / SPECIALTY-SHAPED PILLOW
A decorative pillow in the shape of cartoon or other objects intended to bring fun or romantics into a room or area of the home.
DECORATED / WELTED / RUFFLED / SHIRRED / TRIMMED / TUFTED / TENT-FLAP PILLOW
A decorative pillow ornamented or shaped with the particular technique or ornamentation.
ORTHOPAEDIC / THERAPEUTIC PILLOW
A main pillow type used with the purpose to adjust the position of the body when lying down or sitting. It usually consists of a foam filler and a fabric cover. There are orthopaedic pillows and cushions for most parts of the body and for different medical and sleeping problems, such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, snoring and other breathing difficulties, issues with blood circulation, acid and gastroesophageal reflux, sciatica, lower back and neck pains, whiplash, rotator cuff and other neck and shoulder related injuries. They are often available with multi-use and multi-position designs in compliance with the health and safety guidelines for the right body’s placement and support.
TRAVEL / NECK PILLOW
An orthopaedic pillow that provides support for the neck usually during travelling. It is usually horseshoe or U-shaped and is placed around the back and side parts of the neck to keep them straight and prevent the head from leaning uncomfortably during sleep in a sitting position in vehicles.
CERVICAL / CONTOUR NECK PILLOW
An orthopaedic, and sleeping, pillow with a curved shape that is specifically designed to support the neck during sleep via a concave part which keeps it aligned with the spine while the head rests on a convex part. It is suitable for back and side sleepers adapting finely to the head-neck-shoulder contour, for providing comfortable position after therapeutic, orthopaedic or surgical interventions, and for relieving of sleep-related pains and symptoms.
SPINAL SUPPORT PILLOW
An orthopaedic pillow used for cervical support of the back during sleep.
An orthopaedic pillow with the shape of a half moon that is designed to support the lower back curve while leaning onto the back of a chair or a seat in a seated working or driving position. It provides comfort and lumbar pain relief by padding the created space and thus adjusting the body’s position. It can be used under the knees to lift the legs while sitting and for neck support during rest or massage.
A firm orthopaedic pillow with a shape of a torus, which is used to alleviate pressure on the tailbone area after an injury while sitting. It is also suitable for providing pain relief to colon ailments.
KNEE / CONTOUR LEG PILLOW
An orthopaedic pillow with the shape of a hourglass placed between the legs during sleep with the purpose to provide a straight side position of the lower body and relieve lower back pain. It is usually applied at the level of the knees for alignment of the pelvis and prevention of friction between the legs.
A body-length curved orthopaedic, and comfort, pillow or bolster for full body support, which includes the head, neck, shoulders, back, lower back, legs and knees. It combines the functions of all support-providing pillows for the different parts of the body and is especially useful for side sleeping positions and for pregnant women. It can be used for hugging as with the Dutch wife and Dakimakura, which regional variants can be held or wrapped around the body during sleep.
SIDE SLEEPER PILLOW
An orthopaedic pillow that facilitates the right adjustment of neck, arms and shoulders and relieves neck and shoulder stiffness due to body’s pressure over arms and shoulders during side sleeping.
BACK SLEEPER PILLOW
An orthopaedic pillow with neck contour and a wedge for under the knees, which provides soft and firm support for the three critical body curves, neck, middle and lower back. It eases down snoring, sinusitis and back pain during sleep.
An orthopaedic triangle-shaped pillow that provides the necessary slope for the diagonal positioning of the body. It can be used both upright and downright. It has multiple usages and mainly for symptom relief of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) while sleeping. Versions of leg wedge pillows can be used as leg spacers and to improve blood circulation in this area.
MEMORY FOAM PILLOW
An orthopaedic, and sleeping, pillow which is made from memory foam, a heat-sensitive material with the property to acquire the shape of the body when lying on it and then recover its initial shape after the body’s removal from the pillow.
An orthopaedic, and sleeping, pillow with buckwheat hulls filler. Its shape is therefore ductile and can be easily adapted to the shape of the head, neck and shoulders.
ACUPRESSURE / SPIKE / NAIL / FAKIR PILLOW
A therapeutic pillow constructed from a sponge filler in a fabric envelope with a cover of plastic nails intended for neck relaxation.
A therapeutic pillow with an incorporated loudspeaker, generally used to play relaxing music, radio shows or audiobooks in order to aid asleep and alleviate sleeping problems. It also helps with the symptoms of tinnitus.
EYE / DREAM PILLOW
A therapeutic, and comfort, pillow, usually small size, used to cover the eyes and protect against light during sleep. It can have further sleep-soothing characteristics and provisions.
For combination sleepers who tend to sleep in a combination of positions such as on side, stomach or back. It facilitates the easing down of neck, shoulder and back pains while turning to different sides during sleep.
Its main purpose is to provide comfort and support during certain types of resting, relaxing and leisure activities.
HUGGING / HUG / BESIDE / ROLL PILLOW
A comfort, and orthopaedic, body pillow or bolster which is used and has forms for hugging. Different regional types and variants are known as dakimakura in Japan, abrazador in the Philippines, goi om in Vietnam, khnaeyaob in Cambodia, baozhen or lan zhen in China, bantal peluk in Malasya, monkhang in Thailand, or bantal guling in Indonesia. A traditional version of the latter, the Dutch wife or Bamboo Wife, as is wider known regionally, is a body-length bolster made from bamboo cane, and now widely replaced with modern fabric versions. It is used during sleep to hold or wrap around the body for ventilation purposes. The regional versions of the hugging pillow, known as lode and gao-takkiya in India and Pakistan are also used for back support while the Hotdog pillow, known as tandayan in the Philippines is yet another version used as a leg pillow.
READING / MATERNITY / HUSBAND / BOYFRIEND PILLOW
A comfort pillow, usually large, which is with a backrest and arms. It supports the upright position of the body during sitting in bed or on the floor while reading, watching TV, working on the computer, or other leisure activities. These are also very suitable for pregnant and nursing women.
“Photo: Lapuan Kankurit Oy”