The Story of the Pillow

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Whether fact or folklore, here is a breakdown of the pillow’s humble beginnings. Its a long history – after all, humans have been sleeping as long as they have been living and it didn't take long for humans from different cultures all over the globe to start trying to fix one of the most common sleep problems- pain! The historical records differ slightly but here is a good start to appreciating how far our pillows have come.

A very long time ago, around 7000 BC: Those living in Mesopotamia began using pillows to support their bodies whilst sleeping. The more pillows one used, the more wealthy one was.

Fast forward to around 2500 BC: The Egyptians started constructing these neck supports. Luckily, the living were spared the discomfort as they were mainly used on beloved corpses and mummies to protect the most distinguished part of the body- the head.


The Chinese weren't far behind. In 518 BC, they started making head rests from their trademark material, porcelain. Of course each headrest was highly decorated and formed to look like an animal, plant or person. The porcelain headrest was popular until around the 10th century AD when softer materials were found.


The Romans and Greeks take the credit for introducing the softer, more modern pillow made from straw, feathers and reeds. It is thought that they did this around the 1st century AD (but clearly didn't tell the Chinese about it).

These soft pillows went on to be used for three main purposes: 1. for sleeping; 2. for decoration and 3. to relieve pain.

1. Bed pillows were used for sleeping- they were oblong and aimed to support the head and neck.

2. Cushions were used for decoration- they were usually square and highly decorated with embroidery, shells and beads.

3. Longer, softer pillows were used to relieve back pain- they were usually thinner and more oblong. The Indonesians made the Guling (a long hugging pillow) and is similar to the Abrazador made in the Philippines.

Pillows continued to be a sign of wealth and so the number of pillows within a home could be overwhelming- particularly for the cleaning staff who were required to beat the pillows regularly to remove dirt and maintain their shape. Here's How to refresh your pillows in the year 2016.

Fast forward another couple of hundred years and it seems that pillows have come a long, long way. Pillow cases are made from luxurious materials such as silk, linen, Egyptian cotton and poly-cotton. Common fillings include polyester, goose down and microfibre; find out more by reading Polyester, goose down or microfibre- what's the difference?

Investing in a specialty pillow that makes use of fillings such as gel, latex and memory foam, is wise if you suffer from allergies or neck and back pain. However, it is wise to buy yours from a trusted brand to avoid disappointment. Sealy has three great new pillows that you will never want to leave behind.

Find out more about Sealy's great products here.

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