You probably put a lot of time and money into obtaining the best mattress for you. If your goal is to sleep soundly, don’t forget to go through a similar process with your pillows. Just like your mattress, your pillows can majorly impact how well you sleep.
Pillows vary in a few ways. Different pillows contain different fill materials, which causes them to feel different. Also, just like mattresses, pillows come in different firmness levels and heights. Of course, price is another differentiating factor among pillow types.
With so many pillow options available, pillow shopping can feel overwhelming. Plus, there isn’t one single pillow that works best for everyone. Your sleep position and preferences factor in, as does neck pain and any other discomfort issues you face.
Our purpose is to simplify your search for the perfect pillow. In this guide, we share our top pillow choices, as well as the best pillow for side sleepers and the best pillow for neck pain. Keep reading to find out which pillow is best for your sleep situation.
Looking for more specific Pillow picks and guides? Check out the following pages:
Top Picks Overview
|Pillow||Fill||Firmness||Why We Recommend It||Price|
|Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow – Editor’s Choice||100% Polyfill||Plush, Mid-Plush, and Firm||The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is vegan, hypoallergenic, and available in three firmness options.||$59|
|Coop Home Goods Eden – Best Hypoallergenic||Viscoelastic Polyurethane and Polyester||Medium Soft||The cruelty-free Eden Pillow is unzippable and comes with extra fill, so customers can make the pillow softer or firmer to their liking.||$79.99|
|Casper Original Pillow – Best Value||Polyester Microfiber||Medium Soft||The Casper Original Pillow features an inner, firmer pillow surrounded by a softer outer layer.||$65|
|Luxe Pillow – Best Down Pillow||White Goose Down and Small-Game Waterfowl Feather||Medium||The outer layer of the Luxe Pillow consists of soft white goose down, while the firmer inner core is made of waterfowl feathers.||$129|
|Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze – Best Memory Foam Pillow||TEMPUR-Breeze Gel and TEMPUR Memory Foam||Medium||The TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze Pillow gives the hug of memory foam while providing medium-firm support.||$169|
Our Top Picks for 2020
|Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow – Editor’s Choice|
Who it’s best for:
|Brooklinen offers the Down Alternative Pillow for people who enjoy the soft cushion of a down pillow, but don’t want to sleep on actual down. Whether you are vegan and avoiding animal products or dealing with allergies that make you sensitive to down, this pillow is a good option for the down feel without the feathers.
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is made in the US and sold at value prices compared to similar pillows. Brooklinen also offers discounts to customers purchasing 3 or more pillows. This pillow is constructed with a 100 percent cotton sateen shell over a polyfill interior.
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is also available in three firmness levels, which provide plenty of options for various types of sleepers.
“Plush” is the softest option. Recommended for stomach sleepers wanting to maintain spinal alignment, the Plush option prevents neck strain by allowing sleepers to sink in deeply. It’s one of the best pillows for stomach sleepers with neck pain.
The “Mid-Plush” option is a medium-soft pillow. This firmness option is ideal for back sleepers who want their head slightly elevated, but not too much.
Finally, the “Firm” pillow is the firmest version of the Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow. This option works best for side sleepers wanting to keep their head level so they maintain spinal alignment.
For pillows, Brooklinen allows free returns and exchanges up to one year after purchase.
Interested in the Down Alternative Pillow from Brooklinen? Click here to see the latest prices and discounts!
|Coop Home Goods Eden – Best Hypoallergenic|
Who it’s best for:
|The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is filled with cross-cut pieces of memory foam and microfiber. This construction, along with gel infused into the memory foam, enables the pillow to sleep cooler than many other memory foam pillows.
A gusset, which is a panel around the perimeter of the Eden, also promotes airflow through the pillow. The gusset adds structure to the pillow, which helps the pillow evenly support weight.
The Eden Pillow is hypoallergenic, making it a good choice for allergy sufferers. The pillow doesn’t contain down, and it has been certified by CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD. Coop Home Goods also notes that the Eden is dust mite resistant.
One attractive feature of the Eden is its versatility when it comes to different types of sleepers. Sleepers can add or remove fill to adjust the pillow’s loft and density to fit their needs. This option makes the Eden a strong choice for sleepers of all position preferences.
The Eden’s cover and liner are both unzippable, allowing customers to access the innermost part of the pillow. The pillow also comes with an extra half bag of fill. This construction allows customers to adjust the pillow’s fill levels. Both the removable cover and inner pillow may be machine washed.
Coop Home Goods offers a 100-night sleep trial and 5-year warranty on the Eden Pillow.
|Casper Original Pillow – Best Value|
Who it’s best for:
|The Casper Original Pillow is a down alternative pillow filled with polyester microfiber. It mimics the soft feel of down, but doesn’t contain animal products. The pillow shares a similar construction with many down pillows in that it has a softer outer pillow surrounding a firmer core.
Although polyester microfiber feels similar to down, it doesn’t contain any feathers, making it suitable for those who avoid animal products. Casper doesn’t claim their Original pillow is hypoallergenic, but it is likely a good choice for people who experience allergy issues with down.
This pillow comes in one firmness level, which is medium-soft. Its firmness and loft make the pillow most suitable for side and back sleepers. Stomach sleepers might find that the Casper Original Pillow elevates their head too high, which can lead to neck discomfort.
The Casper Original Pillow is constructed with a gusset, or a 2-inch panel that circles the outer edge of the pillow. This gusset increases the pillow’s loft and adds structure.
Due to the gusset and other aspects of the pillow’s construction, sleepers will find that the contents of the Casper Original Pillow stay put and do not shift throughout the night. Although some down and down alternative pillows can become lumpy over time, lumpiness shouldn’t be a problem with this pillow.
Casper offers a 100-night sleep trial and 1-year limited warranty on their Original Pillow.
|Luxe Pillow – Best Down Pillow|
Who it’s best for:
|The Luxe Pillow is constructed with down and feathers. It contains a firmer, structured core of small-game waterfowl feathers. Surrounding the core are two chambers of soft, white goose down. This construction provides a mixture of support and plushness.
Generally, down and feather pillows aren’t recommended for people with allergies. However, the Luxe Pillow is certified hypoallergenic. The down and feathers they use undergo extensive washing, so they are less likely to bother people with allergies.
Also, the Luxe Pillow comes with a high-quality pillow protector. Pillow protectors help keep pillows in good shape. They also tend to help protect sleepers from inhaling allergens that might develop in the pillow over time, such as dust mites.
The Luxe Pillow comes in one firmness level, which is medium. The loft and medium firmness of the Luxe make it a strong option for side and back sleepers. Stomach sleepers might find that this pillow is too thick or firm for their liking, however. Stomach sleepers often prefer softer, less lofted pillows that allow them to maintain spinal alignment.
The Luxe Pillow comes with free shipping and a 100-night sleep trial during which customers may return the product at no cost.
|Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze – Best Memory Foam Pillow
Who it’s best for:
|The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze is made of a single layer of TEMPUR material, which is a type of memory foam. Since memory foam tends to trap heat, there’s a layer of TEMPUR-Breeze Gel surrounding it, to promote cooling.
This pillow comes with the traditional memory foam feel associated with Tempur-Pedic mattresses. Sleepers can expect a highly conforming pillow that “hugs” the body. The feel of the TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze differs greatly from the feel associated with down and down alternative pillows.
The TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze comes in one firmness level, which is medium. This firmness level makes the pillow most suitable for side and back sleepers. Most stomach sleepers tend to prefer a thinner pillow.
The cover of the TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze is removable and washable. Made of 100 percent cotton, the cover adds to the pillow’s breathability. Although the cover can be washed, the pillow’s inner contents cannot be washed.
Tempur-Pedic doesn’t have a sleep trial and does not allow pillow returns. They do offer free shipping and a 5-year warranty on the TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze Pillow, however.
How to Choose a Pillow
There is no single perfect pillow for everyone. To find your ideal pillow, you must consider your sleep position preferences, as well as many aspects of pillows you’re considering.
This section guides you through the various pillow qualities to evaluate while pillow shopping. Once you know what to look for, you can feel confident that you’re truly buying the pillow because it fits your needs.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Pillow
Marketing hype shouldn’t drive your decision-making as you shop for the perfect pillow. Companies may claim that their pillow feels like sleeping on a cloud, works well for all sleepers, and stays cool all night. Instead of being swayed by advertising, it’s best to evaluate the facts.
You should consider many factors when pillow shopping. First, your personal sleep position preference heavily influences which pillows best fit your body. Of course, many shoppers are limited by a budget. Keep these factors at the forefront of your mind while examining your pillow options.
Also, learn each pillow’s loft and firmness level to determine if it’s a good option for you. Identify the materials each pillow is made of, if it has cooling properties, and if it will relieve pressure in your neck and shoulders.
In this section, we provide more information about the factors to consider when pillow shopping.
- Sleeping Position: Your preferred sleep position majorly affects which pillows you find comfortable. Stomach sleepers tend to like softer, flatter pillows, since thick pillows can prop the head too high, causing neck pain. Side sleepers generally prefer thicker pillows, which keep the head up and the spine aligned. Back sleepers likely prefer medium pillows, though they are the most flexible group.
- Loft: “Loft” refers to a pillow’s height or thickness, specifically when the pillow is sitting flat with nothing on top of it. People with different sleep position preferences generally prefer pillows with different lofts. Loft and firmness level combine to determine a pillow’s height once weight is put on it.
- Firmness Level: Just like mattresses, pillows come in different firmness levels. Firmness affects how a pillow feels, as well as how high it holds your head. For example, a pillow with a high loft might not hold your head up as high as you’d expect if it is extremely soft and sinks under weight.
- Price: Pillows are available at nearly every price point, ranging from under $10 to upwards of $1,000. Most pillows are sold for under $200, however. The price of a pillow is generally determined by the pillow’s materials and construction. Price loosely correlates with quality, though there are plenty of decent pillows available at affordable prices.
- Pressure Relief: Like mattresses, pillows can be pressure-relieving or create pressure points. Since pressure points lead to discomfort or even neck pain, pressure relief is an important pillow quality for many sleepers. Pillow materials, loft, and firmness level combined with a person’s preferred sleeping position determines how well a pillow performs in terms of pressure relief.
- Quality Materials: There is no single pillow cover or fill material that stands out as being the highest quality. Varying qualities exist within each material type. Customers can research types of down, polyfill, memory foam, etc. to better understand what determines quality within each material type.
- Cooling Properties: Like mattresses, some pillows sleep cooler than others. Down alternatives tend to sleep cooler than down, and buckwheat hulls are known for sleeping exceptionally cool. Memory foam pillows can trap heat, but most contain cooling gel or another cooling material to counteract that tendency.
What Types of Pillows Are There?
Pillows are constructed with a variety of materials. Understanding what these materials are and how they generally perform will help you determine which pillows best fit your needs.
- Polyfoam: Polyfoam, or polyurethane foam, is a type of foam used in both mattresses and pillows. Although polyfoam can vary widely in terms of both quality and firmness, it’s generally lower cost than memory foam. When used as pillow fill, polyfoam is often shredded or cut into small pieces.
- Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows often provide a soft, conforming feel. Since memory foam tends to trap heat, manufacturers often infuse it with a cooling agent or construct the pillow in a way that encourages airflow. Some memory foam pillows are constructed of full blocks of memory foam, while others contain shredded or cut memory foam.
- Down: Perhaps the most traditional pillow fill, down is the soft, fluffy feather found beneath the outer, harder feathers of many birds. Most down pillows contain goose down, and some contain down mixed with feathers. Down is known for its durability, but it may bother some people with allergies or asthma.
- Down Alternative: Any pillow that was created to feel like down, but does not contain down, is considered a down alternative pillow. Down alternative pillows offer options for vegans and people with allergies who like the feel of down. They are most commonly filled with a polyester microfiber filling.
- Latex: Latex pillows are pressure relieving and extremely durable. They tend to have a high loft and be more dense, so they’re better for side and back sleepers than stomach sleepers. Latex pillows can be made of one piece of latex or shredded latex fill. Latex feels similar to foam, but is more cooling, especially when aerated.
- Feather: Generally, the term “feather pillow” is used to refer to pillows that contain both feathers and down. Since feathers are harder than down, 100% feather pillows are less common. Feather pillows are soft, breathable, and a good option for people who sleep hot and want a lower loft.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls, the small outer casings of buckwheat grain kernels. These pillows closely conform to the body, and some people liken their feel to that of a bean bag. Many buckwheat pillows are vegan and organic, making them appealing to eco-conscious shoppers.
- Wool: Wool is a less common fill material that is growing in popularity as customers search for natural pillow options. Most wool pillows are hypoallergenic, organic, and on the luxury end of the price spectrum. Wool is naturally temperature neutral and not extremely conforming.
- Water: Water pillows typically contain water along with another fill material, such as memory foam or polyfill. Most water pillows require customers to fill the pillow with water themselves. This system allows for adjustable firmness levels. Water pillows are known for being supportive and cooling.
Pillow covers also come in a variety of materials. Most pillow covers are made of cotton, polyester, or a cotton-poly blend. Some are made of other materials, such as bamboo-derived fabric or satin.
Cotton covers tend to be more breathable than polyester. Different cover materials feel different to the touch, but the feel is less important since most customers use pillow cases over their pillows.
What is Pillow Loft?
A pillow’s “loft” refers to its height when it is lying flat with nothing sitting on top of it.
Pillows are generally divided into low, medium, and high lofts. A low loft pillow measures 3 inches or less in height. A medium loft pillow measures between 3 and 5 inches thick. A high loft pillow measures over 5 inches in height.
Unfortunately, these measurements haven’t been universally adopted across pillow companies. Some companies might call their pillow “low loft” or “high loft” when it is in fact medium or average in height.
Check actual pillow measurements rather than descriptions whenever possible. Though some companies provide an exact measurement of their pillow’s loft, many do not.
Different people prefer pillows of different lofts. Your sleep position preference, head size, body weight, and mattress firmness are all factors that influence which pillow loft is ideal for you.
- Sleep Position: Stomach sleepers generally require low loft pillows. Medium and high loft pillows can push a stomach sleeper’s head up too high, putting strain on the neck. Back sleepers tend to prefer low or medium loft pillows. Finally, side sleepers tend to require high loft pillows. A high loft pillow can promote spinal alignment by keeping the sleeper’s head as high as their neck and shoulders.
- Head Size: Your head size also helps determine the ideal pillow loft for you. Larger heads tend to sink more deeply into pillows. Therefore, people with larger heads tend to prefer high loft pillows. Similarly, people with smaller heads tend to prefer lower loft pillows.
- Body Weight: Your body weight also influences your ideal pillow loft. The more a person weighs, the higher loft they should seek out. Lightweight sleepers tend to prefer pillows with lower lofts. Of course, other factors such as preferred sleep position and pillow firmness play a role. Body weight alone shouldn’t be used to choose which pillow to purchase.
- Mattress Firmness: Softer mattresses can make pillows feel softer. Likewise, firmer mattresses can make pillows feel firmer. For this reason, mattress firmness should be taken into account when choosing a pillow’s firmness and loft.
What Pillow Sizes Are Available?
Pillows come in a variety of sizes to fit beds of different sizes and people of different body weights and sleeping habits. Pillow size can be as important as firmness and loft when it comes to finding the pillow that best fits you.
- Standard: Standard pillows measure 20 inches wide by 26 inches long. Standard pillows are the smallest, and therefore the least expensive, pillows on the market today. They are also the most commonly sold pillows.
- Super Standard: Super Standard pillows measure 20 inches wide by 28 inches long. Like standard pillows, they are usually used one per twin or full bed, and two per larger bed. Standard pillows provide 2 more inches of length for sleepers who need it due to head size, body weight, or propensity to move during the night.
- Queen: Queen pillows measure 20 inches wide by 30 inches long, 2 inches longer than Super Standard pillows. Queen pillows give extra room to sleepers who tend to toss and turn throughout the night or find themselves slipping off of smaller pillows.
- King: King pillows measure 20 inches wide by 36 inches long. King pillows are much larger than most pillows, measuring 10 inches longer than standard pillows and 6 inches longer than queen pillows. King pillows work well with king beds and larger sleepers.
- Body Pillow: Body pillow dimensions vary, though 48 or 54 inches wide by 20 inches long are common sizes. Body pillows are meant to be hugged. Side sleepers and pregnant women tend to most enjoy them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pillows
- How much do pillows cost? Pillows cost anywhere from under $10 to over $1,000. That said, most quality pillows fall in the $50 to $200 range. Materials and construction greatly impact the price of a pillow. Certain materials such as down, wool, and latex tend to cost more than polyfill and memory foam. Certified organic materials generally cost more than those that aren’t organic.
- Can I wash my pillow? Most pillows are washable, but customers should closely read the manufacturer’s instructions before washing. Some pillows may only be hand washed or dry cleaned, while others can be machine washed and dried. Some pillows have removable and washable covers but inner cores that would be ruined by washing. Materials and construction determine if and how a pillow may be washed.
- How often should I replace my pillow? Most pillows need to be replaced every few years at the least. Materials such as latex and down are known to last longer, while pillows made with memory foam or polyfill need replacing more often. Generally, a pillow needs replacing when it’s showing signs of wear. If a pillow has become lumpy, developed a smell, flattened, or become less comfortable, it should be replaced. Sometimes people require new pillows after purchasing a new mattress because the old pillows aren’t ideal for the firmness level of the new bed.
- What are the best pillows for hot sleepers? Latex, down, buckwheat, wool, and water pillows tend to be the best for hot sleepers. All of these pillows generally remain temperature neutral naturally. Memory foam and polyfoam pillows trap the most heat. Cooling infusions can help counteract this tendency. Also, shredded foam pillows don’t trap heat as much as one-piece foam pillows do.
- Are pillows adjustable? Some, but not all, pillows are adjustable. Some polyfill, shredded memory foam, and buckwheat pillows have zippable covers and come with additional fill, so sleepers can make the pillows more or less dense to their liking. Water pillows are known for their adjustability and become firmer as more water is added. Many pillows are not adjustable, however, so shoppers should carefully look for this feature if it’s one they want.
- Which pillows are best for allergy sufferers? There are many hypoallergenic pillows available for allergy and asthma sufferers. Since dust mites, mold, and mildew are what generally bother people with allergies, pillows that do not retain moisture are the best for allergy sufferers. Polyfill and down alternative pillows are often hypoallergenic. Latex can also be an excellent pillow fill choice, unless the sleeper is also allergic to latex. Natural and organic covers are better than synthetic for this group, and a pillow protector is recommended for all allergy sufferers.