Microbead body pillows come in many different shapes and sizes and are typically more than double the length of a standard bed pillow. The most common shape is a cylinder shape from 48 to 60 long with a diameter between 6 to 8. They also come in U, L, and crescent moon shapes catering to the needs of expecting moms and people recovering from back and knee surgery. Their large design complement side sleepers by providing support to the back, the pelvis, and the abdomen depending on how the pillow is positioned around the body. The most common use is to place one end of the pillow between your knees while hugging the opposite end providing whole body support from head to toes.
Three factors determine the quality of a microbead body pillow: the fabric of the pillow cover, the size and quality of the microbead filling, and the ease of cleaning. A perfect microbead body pillow must achieve a balance between moldability and support. When the pillow is too hard it loses the ability to conform to the contour of your body but when it is too soft it provides insufficient support and squishes down to nothing. It is important to consider all these qualities and the price when you make your purchase.
Polyester/Spandex and Nylon/Spandex are the two most used fabrics in making microbead pillows due to their lightweight, stretchy, wrinkle and shrink resistant qualities. Most believe nylon blends to be superior because it is more durable and a softer fabric, but polyester retains color better, resists pilling, and is less moisture absorbant. Both blends are machine washable and dryable on lowest heat setting.
Size does matter not only of the pillow but also in the filling! When the beads that fill the pillow are too big you loose the softness and form-hugging features of a microbead pillow. Imagine the difference between rubbing a ball filled with sand verses a ball filled with pebbles. Beads in a body pillow should be no larger than 0.5 mm in diameter. Smaller the beads, better the quality. The larger beads simply cant do the job right in a sleep pillow. Another important factor is the volume of the fill. When the pillow is overfilled, the beads cannot easily slide around each other responding to the form of your body and your movement, but when there is not enough filling, the pillow becomes too soft to provide adequate support.
Ease of Cleaning
Lastly, you should consider if the pillow comes with a removable cover for easy cleaning and if the pillow itself can be washed and dried in a machine. Not all body pillows are washable. You should always check the manufacturer's recommendation before putting your pillow in the machine. Accidents happen so it is important to be able to clean your pillow easily!