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The Evolution of Pillowcases: How We Sleep Has Changed Over the Years

For centuries, people have been trying to get a good night’s sleep. Whether it was sleeping on the ground, in hammocks, or in beds made of straw, we have always been trying to find the perfect sleeping surface. However, one aspect of sleep that has often been overlooked is the pillowcase. Pillowcases have gone through many changes throughout history, and have played an important role in helping us get a great night’s sleep.

The Early Days

In the early days, people would often sleep on pillows made of rock, wood, or even horns. These early pillows were often uncomfortable, but they were the best option people had at the time. Pillowcases were not commonly used during this time, since pillows were often made of materials that were difficult to clean.

The Age of Linen

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that pillowcases became more common. During this time, linen was the most common fabric used for pillowcases. Linen was durable, soft, and easy to clean, making it the perfect material for sleeping on.

The use of pillowcases became even more common during the Renaissance. During this time, pillows became softer and were often stuffed with feathers or down. Pillowcases made of silk or linen were commonly used to cover these softer pillows.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought about many changes in the way we live, and it also brought about changes in the way we sleep. At this time, cotton became more widely available, and cotton pillowcases became more common. Cotton was cheaper than silk and linen, and it was also more durable.

During the 20th century, synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon were developed. Pillowcases made of these fabrics were often marketed as being more durable and less likely to wrinkle. These pillowcases also often had brightly colored designs.

The Modern Era

Today, we have a wide variety of pillowcase options to choose from. Cotton is still a popular choice, but we also have options such as bamboo and satin. Pillowcases made of these materials are often marketed as being good for your skin and hair. They also often have moisture-wicking properties that can help with nighttime sweating.

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the rise of personalized pillowcases. These pillowcases can be printed with anything from your name to your favorite quote. They are a great way to add a personal touch to your bedroom decor.

Failures Along the Way

While pillowcases have come a long way since the early days, there have been some notable failures along the way. One of the biggest failures was the use of asbestos in pillowcases. In the early 1900s, asbestos was commonly used in a variety of products, including pillowcases. However, it was later discovered that asbestos exposure could lead to serious health problems, and its use was discontinued.

Another notable failure was the use of fire-retardant chemicals in pillowcases. While these chemicals did help prevent fires, they were found to be harmful to both humans and the environment. Many of these chemicals have since been banned.


Pillowcases have come a long way over the years. From sleeping on rocks to personalized pillowcases, we have come a long way in our quest for the perfect night’s sleep. While there have been some notable failures along the way, it is clear that pillowcases will continue to evolve as we continue to seek out the best ways to get a good night’s sleep.

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