2 MIN READ | Wellness

Elena Deeley

Pillows Are Game Changer for Well-Being: Here’s the History of Pillows

Cite This
Elena Deeley, (2021, April 6). Pillows Are Game Changer for Well-Being: Here’s the History of Pillows. Psychreg on Wellness. https://www.psychreg.org/history-pillows/
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Before we can discuss when pillows were invented or what they are used for, it would be good to define the same. A pillow is a support for the body when it is at rest or when one is seeking comfort, decoration, or therapy. When we talk about a pillow, what comes to mind is mainly its use in the bed for elevation and cushioning the head and neck to give the spine a proper alignment while one sleeps. Well, this is mostly the biggest use of pillows. However, you can also have flour sitting pillows or pillows for couch that can be used on seats and sofas so that they can help align the backbone while one is seated or lying on the couch.

Types of pillows

There are many types of pillows. It is important to know that pillows are used by many species of animals. For humans, pillows are mostly used for comfort. We have types of pillows such as throw pillows, decorative pillows, and body pillows. When used in the bed, these function as a form of bedding and support the head and the neck so that one can be comfortable while they sleep.

The history of pillows

The exact origin of the use of pillows is unknown. However, it is believed to have evolved from prehistory when animals such as mammals and reptiles would rest their heads on one another or themselves as a form of support for the head and neck. With time, these animals started using objects as pillows in their sleeping nests. These were made of stone or wood. Between 5 and 23 million years ago, great apes that dwelled in trees began to build sleeping platforms that included pillows as a way of improving their sleep. Studies have shown that chimpanzees could sleep up to nine hours by use of selected ironwood pillows. This would enable these apes not to fall off trees as they slept.

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

The use of the modern pillow dates back to 7,000 BC during the civilisation of Mesopotamia. The wealthy were the only users of pillows. During this period and in this region, the number of pillows that one had symbolised how wealthy they were. Pillows have also been known to have been used on the mummies in the ancient tombs of Egypt. During the 11th dynasty, 2055 to 1985 BC, Egyptian pillows were made of stone or wood headrests. These were placed under the deceased person’s head as a form of support.

Ancient Europe

The Greeks and the Romans of ancient Europe made softer types of pillows and used these under their heads and necks as they slept. These were stuffed with feathers, straw, and reeds so they could be soft enough. The upper class was the typical user of pillows. However, with time, other people were allowed to use some kinds of pillows while lying down, sleeping, or sitting. Pillows were sooner being carried to church for kneeling on or for placing religious books on. This tradition is still common. It is also a well-known fact that the Romans and the Greeks placed pillows under the heads of the dead as was done in ancient Egypt.


Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


Disclaimer: Psychreg is mainly for information purposes only. Materials on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website. Read our full disclaimer here

Copy link