For a long time, pillows have been stuffed with all types of fillings – goose and duck feathers, cotton, buckwheat, and more. However, did you ever think about using water to fill your pillow with? Why not, after all? During the 1980s and early 1990s, waterbeds were a hot item. So, it only stands to reason that water pillows would be something to consider, right?
The problem with this idea is the misconception people have about water pillows. They are often regarded as leaking, inconsistent, and sloshy. The reality is that water is sealed tightly in the bladder (internal reservoir) of the pillow with other materials enveloping it (fabric and foam, for instance). Therefore, water pillows do not leak or slosh. Instead, they offer users a distinctive sleeping experience that is sure to aid in comfort.
Water pillows can be both fun and therapeutic because they don’t waver when it comes to firm support. Traditional pillows, softer ones, will use fill-like down that will eventually collapse after being subjected to the weight of your head. This collapse will ultimately cause an uncomfortable bend in your neck due to the downward head position.
The great thing about water pillows is that their loft will stay consistent no matter how much pressure is applied to it. This means your head will be elevated to the right level all night long. Since water is an incompressible liquid, there are unique benefits to using it as a fill in a pillow: It is conforming and adaptable, yet it can’t be squashed down.
In this guide, we will cover what makes a great water pillow and how you can find the one that is right for you. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
The Best Water Pillows Comparison Table
- 300-thread count sateen cover
- Memory foam layer will conform to head and neck
- Dacron fiber filling adjustable upper layer
- Hypoallergenic fiber filling
- Superior-quality fiber filling
The Best Water Pillows Reviews
Mediflow Floating Comfort: The Best Down Alternative Water Pillow
This Mediflow Floating Comfort water pillow is loaded with hypoallergenic Micro Denier Fiberfill, which is made to mimic the feel of down. The insulated water base supports the soft layer of the down alternative filling, which will respond to head movement while sleeping. The down-like material retains its shape and will stay lofty for a long time. The Floating Comfort Down Alternative pillow is encased in a 200 thread count poly cotton sateen cover.
The pillow can be found in jumbo size; as with other Mediflow products, it comes with a 30-day trial and three-year warranty.
Mediflow: The Best Memory Foam Water Pillow
Another great product from Mediflow is their memory foam water pillow, which offers a balance between water and a standard memory foam material. There are many wonderful features in this product, including the original pouch water base and cooling gel infusion.
The upper side of the memory foam will keep the head and neck aligned, offering both cervical support and comfort. The insulated water chamber underneath will respond to movement, adding to your comfort. The memory foam has plenty of ventilation thanks to airflow pockets that keep it from overheating, unlike what you’d see with traditional memory foam pillows.
The pillow’s base is comprised of the company’s trademark water pouch that users can also adjust to get the appropriate firmness and comfort.
A hypoallergenic cotton 300-thread count cover comes in a single size and provides exceptional comfort for the head. The company offers a 30-day return policy with a three-year warranty.
Blissbury: The Best Adjustable Water Pillow
The Blissbury water pillow is not like others for offering great comfort at an affordable price, in addition to a waterproof seal and a water-filling funnel. Though all water pillows come with an adjustable water base, Blissbury gives users a chance to adjust the upper layer of the Dacron fiber as well by adding or removing the fill. When you order from the manufacturer, you get an additional portion of Dacron fiber to boost the loftiness and firmness to your comfortability level.
This pillow comes with a soft-to-the-touch, hypoallergenic bamboo cover in either Dolphin Grey or Summer White colors. You can remove the cover and throw it in the washer machine when necessary.
Blissburry manufactures a Large or Queen size pillow with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee trial and a one-year warranty against production defects.
Mediflow Original: The Best Overall Water Pillow
John Hopkins University led a clinical study focused on the Mediflow water-based pillow. Researchers wanted to know how effective the pillow was at giving users high-quality sleep and alleviating neck pain while sleeping. Those in the study found that Mediflow offered one of the best water-based pillows in its class, surpassing every testing standard.
The product has an upper layer of hypoallergenic, breathable Dacron Hollofill fiber on top of an insulated water pouch base that can be filled to your comfort level.
Like other water pillows on the market, Mediflow will adjust to the movements of the head, keeping the neck and head aligned with the spine. No matter what your sleeping position is, the pillow will support the neck, which is especially helpful for side sleepers who need to fill a gap between their neck and the mattress.
The pillow’s cover is a 200-thread count pure cotton jumbo that you can easily wash and dry. Mediflow comes with a 30-day sleep trial and a three-year manufacturing warranty.
Chiroflow: The Best Therapeutic Water Pillow
According to Chiroflow, their pillows have been clinically-proven to alleviate neck pain and improve sleep quality. Though they market mainly to the medical industry, ordinary buyers can purchase their pillow on Amazon as well, offering them an opportunity to try it out themselves without making a pit stop at the physician’s office.
Chiroflow’s water pillow closely resembles the Mediflow water pillow, with the exception of two things - its intended functionality and filling material. This product comprises of a special kind of fiber called Dacron stalest holfill fiber. It’s far superior to the typical polyester fiber filling and is said to improve comfort and durability.
Chiroflow has a water pouch that is encased in a thermal insulator to maintain a steady temperature without any heat loss. It prevents the water from getting cold from room temperature levels or heating up due to body heat. Hot water is also permitted for use if you need it for therapeutic reasons. Since the insulated core will maintain the temperature, this will help muscles get the needed relief from soreness and pain.
The outer cover is made of Dacron stalest fiberfill with a 300-thread count. A standard or queen size pillowcase can be used, which means you don’t have to go looking for an odd-sized pillowcase for your purchase. With this water pillow, you’ll get the optimal cervical support that has proven itself to reduce neck stiffness and pain.
Chiroflow offers a 30-days money-back guarantee as well as a three-year warranty.
A Closer Look At A Water Pillow
When people hear “water pillow,” they immediately think about a waterbed, which would slosh about when laid upon. However, this image is not accurate. Instead, water pillows are like any other pillow you’re used to sleeping on. They are made of the usual fillings such as polyester fiber and cotton but have an extra space inside (a bladder or internal reservoir) designed to hold the water.
This “bladder” is comprised of a durable, insulating material that keeps bacteria from growing and stops heat from seeping out. It can be filled with tap water to achieve the preferred height and firmness using a funnel through the pillow’s valve.
If it weren’t for the internal reservoir, a water pillow looks similar and works much the same as a traditional pillow. And, just like those pillows, water pillows can be filled using all kinds of materials that offer various levels of firmness, support, and feel.
There are common types of water pillow fill:
Down – Down is made from the underside feathers of geese and ducks, and is a very soft and lightweight material. Traditional down pillows often lose their shape, but the water chamber inside the pillow keeps it from sagging and compressing. However, the down fill tends to have an odor and may irritate allergies.
Down Alternative – Down alternative is just a polyester fiber material that’s created to replicate the lightness and softness of actual down. These pillows don’t usually last as long but are great for allergy sufferers or people who are sensitive to odors.
Memory Foam – Memory foam adapts to both pressure and heat, contouring to the neck and head and giving them the support needed to alleviate pain. Memory foam pillows are more expensive than the standard fills and may give off an odor when unwrapped. Sleepers who run hot may find that memory foam locks in more heat.
Polyester Fiber – Polyester Fiber is synthetic, which was created to look and feel soft like cotton. This type of material is hypoallergenic, lightweight, and has no smell. You can also buy polyester pillows in an array of firmness levels. Any drawbacks? They often clump up or flatten after repeated uses; however, the water base keeps them from flattening out altogether.
What is it about water pillows that make them so worthwhile? Are they really any better than your typical pillow? Traditional pillows comprise of either memory foam or cotton fillings, but they tend to flatten out over time, from the weight of your head.
Water pillows, on the other hand, maintain their height and thickness, conforming to your head’s shape. It’s all due to the water chamber, which will respond to head movement, support its weight, and ensure the neck and head stay aligned with the spine.
Thanks to the firm water pouch, you don’t wake up with the need to fluff your pillow.
Types of Water Pillows
Believe it or not, there are two kinds of water pillows on the market – both with their pros and cons.
Pouch Waterbase Pillow – This type of pillow is very popular on the market, as it contains an internal reservoir the user fills up with tap water. It’s hidden beneath the hypoallergenic polyester fiber filling, so you get the feeling of sleeping on a regular pillow with the added benefits that come with a water pillow. The water inside this pillow keeps it from flattening under your head’s weight and keeps your neck and head supported all night long.
Memory Foam Waterbase Pillow – Rather than a polyester fiber filling and the internal reservoir, these pillows comprise of memory foam. The water is soaked into the memory foam by way of a gel, which causes the pillow to act similarly to the one that’s filled with tap water (meaning you don’t add tap water to this type of pillow). Another significant aspect is that the gel produces a cooling effect and will still contour your head.
Benefits and Drawbacks
When it comes to owning and using a water pillow, there are some worthwhile benefits to them. Why should you consider buying this kind of pillow for yourself?
Temperature Regulation – The pillow’s inner pouch is insulated to prevent heat transfer, so you can remain cool while sleeping.
Customization – Everybody needs their own level of support, and each person wants their desired firmness and softness when they sleep. Water pillows can be adjusted to meet your preferences. You get a firm feel when the reservoir is filled up entirely while lessening the amount of water allows for softer support. The water level will also affect the pillow’s height (loft) so that you can get a neutral sleeping position.
Better Sleep Quality – In a Johns Hopkins study, researchers found that the waterbase pillow can improve one’s sleep quality because it alleviated the nighttime aches. Water pillows, unlike traditional pillows, can maintain their shape better, meaning sleepers don’t routinely wake to readjust or fluff up their pillow.
Pain Relief – According to the Johns Hopkins Study, water pillows, when properly filled, can alleviate morning pain and improve quality of life. This responsive support is aided through the water pouch, which can decrease both body and neck pain at night and into the next day. The pouch will contour the head and neck, even as the user moves around while they sleep. Thus, your spine, neck, and head stay in alignment.
Support – A water pillow’s best feature is the support it provides. If you properly fill it up, the pillow will ensure your head stays elevated at the right angle throughout the night.
Just as the positive aspects, there are some negative points to consider when you’re in the market for a waterbase pillow. What are some of the negative issues you should keep in mind?
Durability – Cheaper models, often leak before one year of use, which can be frustrating considering how much money is spent on one. However, their lifespan is usually longer than feather or polyester pillows, so that’s something to bear in mind.
Not Moldable – A water pillow will never change its shape, the water will continuously bounce back.
Complex Adjustments – It’s going to take some time to get your preferred loft and firmness, which means experimenting until you get it just right. This can be a tedious process, and, for some people, it’s a deal-breaker.
Sloshing Noise – Light sleepers may have a hard time resting on a water pillow because of the noise it can make when you move around. A way to cut down on the sound is to remove all of the air from the water pouch. This is done by applying a little pressure on the pouch before replacing the cap.
Weight – The biggest drawback of a water pillow is its weight. After they have been filled with water, they can be quite heavy (in some cases, weighing up to 15 pounds). If you want to move yours around, this is something to be mindful of.
Who Should Use A Water Pillow?
Since these pillows conform to a user’s head and neck and can be adjusted to a preferable firmness, they are ideal for many kinds of sleepers including the following:
People Who Sleep On Their Sides – Side sleepers may find a water pillow is much better for alleviating the pressure put on their shoulders and neck. They also do better when their pillows have a higher loft because it bridges the gap between the pillow and the neck.
People Who Sleep On Their Backs – Back sleepers can use a water pillow to alleviate the pressure points in their neck (along with other sensitive areas). These pillows are adjustable, so you can increase the loftiness and give our head and neck increased support.
People Who Sweat At Night – The water pouch’s insulating cover was created to prevent heat transfer with the upper layers of down, down alternative, and fiber, allowing for better airflow.
People Who Want Choices – If you’re not sure what level of firmness or loftiness you need, then an adjustable nature of a water pillow is right up your alley.
Head and Neck Pain Sufferers – This type of pillow helps in relieving neck pain during the night and the following day.
Who Should Avoid Using A Water Pillow?
Light sleepers may have issues with this pillow because they tend to make noise when compressed.
People who sleep on their stomachs may feel the loft is too high even with an empty water chamber.
Anybody looking for a simple-to-use pillow may find water pillows intimidating and tedious.
Things To Consider Before You Buy
You can purchase a water pillow in three sizes, but the exact specifications will vary by the manufacturer. The basic dimensions are:
- Travel – 13”x16” to 13.5”x21.”
- Standard – 16”x25” to 18”x26” (ideal for regular pillowcases)
- Large/Queen – 20”x28” (ideal for regular or queen pillowcases)
It’s important to keep in mind that certain water pillow fillings do better for some individuals than others:
- PolyFiber water pillows are ideal for any sleeper but don’t offer as much pain relief as the other materials.
- Down water pillows are ideal for side and back sleepers who overheat easily and weight no more than 200 pounds. Down filling is extremely breathable but doesn’t provide ample support for people over 200 pounds.
- Down alternative water pillows are ideal for side and back sleepers with allergies, as they replicate the feeling and support of down without any allergy issues.
- Memory foam water pillows are ideal for people who sleep on their side but don’t get too hot. Memory foam provides amazing pressure relief for the neck and head but often locks in heat.
While the pillow’s design is the most significant factor in choosing a water pillow, there are other important factors to consider:
Mattress Encasement – Reputable brands do what they can to protect the internal reservoir from damage, but it would still be a good idea to use a waterproof mattress encasement to give you that extra layer of protection from leaks.
Cleaning – It’s imperative to read the recommended manufacturing instructions on how to properly care for your pillow. Can you remove the cover and put it in the wash? Or is it spot clean only?
Shipping & Delivery – Be aware that each manufacturer has their own shipping and delivery policy, with some of them even providing free shipping to specific locations. If you order via Amazon, see if the pillow is eligible for free, two-day delivery under Amazon Prime.
Warranty & Returns – You also want to see what kind of warranty and return policy the manufacturer offers. The longer the warranty, the more confident the manufacturer has in their product. If you find a defect in the pillow after the return window has closed, you can take advantage of this warranty offer.
How To Properly Care For Your Water Pillow
As you see, a water pillow can be very useful to your health, but caring for it can be problematic if you don’t know how to do so correctly. Here are a few helpful tips to ensure your pillow stays in tip-top shape:
- Empty the water to wash the pillow. Put the casing in the washer machine, using cold water and on the gentle cycle. Never use bleach and make sure it’s mild detergent only.
- It’s best to air dry your pillow, but you can put it in the dryer on the low-heat setting as well. Never dry clean or iron it, as this can affect its durability.
- Empty and refill the water at least once a year, but adjust it to your preference as needed.
- Never use hot water to fill up the pillow. Instead, only use cold water (lukewarm is acceptable too as long as it doesn’t surpass 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Tap water is best, and if you use well water, add a touch of bleach to it.
- Let out the air in the pouch before you start filling it up with water. This will keep the water from sloshing around and making noise as you sleep on it.
What Is The Right Side Of The Pillow To Sleep On?
The pillow should be placed “cap down” against your mattress.
Can You Wash This Pillow Type?
You can wash your pillow using the manufacturer’s care instructions. Be sure to empty the water and air before you wash it. You want to replace the cap before you wash it as well. Do not allow the water to exceed the 105 Fahrenheit temperature. Be sure to air dry your pillow or toss it in the dryer on “no-heat.”
Can You Use Tap Water In Your Pillow?
It’s perfectly fine to use tap water. However, if you use well water, you may need to add several drops of bleach to it.
How Long Can Water Remain In A Pillow Before A Change Is Necessary?
The water is good for up to a year; then it should be changed. However, most people like washing their pillows, which is when you should really change the water out.
How Much Water Should You Put In Initially?
One significant aspect of a waterbase pillow is that you can customize it to your likeness. You can add as much water you want or decrease the amount. It’s best to begin with, three quarts of water and go from there to find your desired firmness.
Sleep is such an essential aspect of your life, so don’t sleep on a boring, feather-filled pillow. Water pillows are just like any other pillow type on the market other than they have a reservoir you fill with water. They can improve your sleep quality, reduce the number of times you wake up in the night, and can be adjusted to meet your firmness preference, and alleviate sore necks entirely.
While these pillows are heavier than your typical pillows, it shouldn’t be a major issue unless you plan on carrying it everywhere.
Now, there are all kinds of water pillows on the market – each one with its pros and cons. Do your homework, and you will find one that’s just right for you. With a little knowledge about water pillows, you can have a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling ready to bring on the day.