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Like mattresses, pillows play a major role in how well you sleep – and finding the right one can be challenging. Shoppers today have a lot to consider in terms of composition and fill, thickness, durability, temperature regulation, and pain relief.
You should also take personal factors into account when searching for a new pillow. For example, a side sleeper who weighs less than 130 pounds will probably need a completely different pillow than a stomach sleeper who weighs more than 230 pounds. People with neck and shoulder pain may need a pillow with an orthopedic shape, while heavy snorers often require a high-loft pillow to keep their heads upright.
This guide includes a complete rundown on pillow types and important criteria for pillow buyers. First, check out our top picks for pillows sold today. The selections listed below are based on experiences from verified pillow owners and our own in-house testing.
Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklinen pillows
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.
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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.
Best for Side Sleepers
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The Layla Kapok Pillow combines shredded memory foam fill with kapok fibers. The kapok fibers are sustainably harvested from the seed pods of the kapok tree, which grows in Indonesia. These two materials come together to provide a mix of cushioning and support.
The pillow also features an innovative cover that is woven with copper fibers that are designed to draw heat away from your face and neck to prevent uncomfortable heat build-up over the course of the night. Copper is also naturally antimicrobial.
The cover also has a zippered opening so that users can remove the cover for washing. This opening also allows for loft adjustments. The pillow arrives overstuffed, which may be perfect for larger side sleepers, but those who sleep on their backs or stomachs will want to remove some fill to achieve the appropriate loft level for proper spinal alignment. This customization enables the pillow to suit a wide range of sleepers.
Layla backs the pillow with a 120-night sleep trial and a 5-year warranty.
Best Memory Foam Pillow
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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.
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The firmness and thickness of any given pillow make it best suited to people that fall into certain groups based on sleep position, body weight, head size, and other factors. The Dual Comfort Pillow from Amerisleep caters to a wider range of sleepers thanks in part to its reversible design. One side of the pillow is medium soft and will contour closely to the head and neck, while the other is medium firm for less conforming and more overall support.
Additionally, the pillow is available in a thickness of 5 or 6 inches. These medium to high profiles will be particularly comfortable for side and back sleepers, both of whom often need more pillow loft to maintain even alignment and reduce pressure around the head, neck, and shoulders. You may choose from queen or king sizes.
Hot sleepers should also be satisfied with the Dual Comfort Pillow, especially if they’ve had bad experiences with memory foam pillows in the past. A breathable cover promotes airflow and reduces heat buildup to keep you comfortable. The core consists of Bio-Pur memory foam, a proprietary material known for its dense composition and above-average longevity. Both sides of the foam are ventilated with holes for added cooling and temperature control.
The cover can be removed and machine washed for affordable, convenient care. Ground shipping is free for all orders in the contiguous U.S. Although Amerisleep does not offer a sleep trial or allow returns for the pillow, each order is backed by a 10-year warranty against physical defects.
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The Chamber Down Pillow by Standard Textile, also known as the Chamberloft pillow, is constructed with two outer chambers filled with hypoallergenic polyester surrounding an inner chamber filled with sterilized feathers. The cover is made from breathable 100 percent cotton and is double-stitched for durability.
Standard Textile is known for supplying luxury hotels around the world with quality bedding, and as a result, their pillows are built to withstand regular washing and drying without losing their loft. The three-chamber construction of the pillow ensures that the fill remains evenly distributed through the laundering process. The outer chambers of polyester provide plushness, while the inner chamber of natural feathers provides support to help keep the sleeper’s neck properly aligned.
The pillows are sold as a set of two and are available in standard and king size. They have earned the OEKO-TEX certification, ensuring that all components are free of harmful substances. Standard Textile offers a 90-day return window, during which unsatisfied customers can receive a full refund, minus any applicable shipping and handling fees.
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The Pluto Pillow is a customizable pillow designed specifically for your needs and preferences. Every customer completes a detailed survey that includes questions about height, weight, sleep position, optimal loft, and desired feel. A pillow is then crafted based on your specific feedback. Compositions will vary, but all pillows contain at least one piece of solid adaptive polyfoam that is CertiPUR-US certified, meaning it does not contain any hazardous materials.
The cover is also made to order, and may be quilted or smooth depending on your survey answers. Material composition of the cover also varies. According to Pluto, more than 25 different variations are available for the pillow. You can also choose between standard and king sizes.
You can’t view the pillow’s specs before purchasing, but Pluto offers a 100-night trial to let you decide whether or not to keep it. The trial requires a two-week break-in period, but after that full refunds are issued for all returns. Additionally, the Pluto Pillow is backed by a one-year warranty. Shipping is free for all orders in the contiguous U.S.
Best Down Pillow
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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.
Best for Back Pain
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The innovative SpineAlign Pillow is designed to alleviate aches, stiffness, and tension around the neck. Its ergonomic, asymmetrical design features two side chambers containing adaptive polyfoam. The thinner side chamber is designed for people who stand at 5 feet 6 inches or shorter, while the thicker side chamber is geared toward taller people. Both of these components feature raised edges for neck support and a grooved center to cradle the head, which can be beneficial for side sleepers.
The pillow also includes a center chamber that sits lower than either side. Back sleepers can rest comfortably on this middle section. If you need to adjust how supportive the pillow feels, each chamber can be accessed using a zipper; simply reach into the chamber and manipulate the foam to make it feel thicker or flatter. The SpineAlign website features a helpful tutorial video that explains how to sleep on and adjust the pillow.
Shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S., and customers in Alaska and Hawaii will incur minimal delivery charges. The SpineAlign Pillow comes with a 60-night sleep trial. Those who wish to return their pillow must wait until at least 30 nights have elapsed if they wish to receive a full refund. The pillow also comes with a five-year warranty.
Best for Neck Pain
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The EasySleeper Pillow from SleepEasy helps side and back sleepers achieve proper spinal alignment, which in turn helps alleviate neck pain. The pillow is made from memory foam, which provides contouring and pressure relief. Using an ergonomic design, the pillow features contoured cut-outs to adequately support the head and neck whether you prefer to sleep on your back or your side.
The cover includes a full length zipper, which allows you to easily remove the cover for machine washing. SleepEasy sells the pillow either alone as a single pillow, as a partner pack (two pillows), or as a family pack (four pillows). The pillow comes in one standard size.
SleepEasy ships internationally and offers a 30-day return policy for products in their original condition.
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The Hullo Pillow is a supportive, adjustable pillow with a Buckwheat fill. Buckwheat pillows, which are pillows filled with the outer casings of buckwheat kernels, are known for their advanced support, breathability, long lifespan, and comfort. The Hullo is one of the most popular buckwheat pillows on the market.
The cover of the Hullo is made of a 100% organic cotton twill. The buckwheat hulls that make up the inner fill are carefully sourced and grown in the US. Users can adjust the firmness, malleability, and loft of the Hullo by easily adding or removing buckwheat halls from the pillow. This allows you to carefully tailor your pillow to suit your sleeping position, weight and personal preference. For example, back sleepers can adjust the amount of buckwheat hulls in the Hullo so the pillow has a lower loft, while side sleepers can add more hulls to achieve a higher loft.
The Hullo comes with a 60-night trial. During that time, pillows may be returned, but the customer must pay the cost of return shipping.
For more personalized pillow guides, check out the following pages:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Side sleepers generally prefer pillows with medium to high loft, or about 4 to 6 inches thick (if not thicker). Due to the nature of this sleep position, extra padding is needed to cushion the head, neck, and shoulders and ensure even alignment.
Side sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds may prefer mid-loft pillows because they will sink more deeply into their mattress than lighter individuals, and thus not need as much padding. Specialty pillows for side sleepers often have contoured shapes or cutouts that mold around the shoulders and cushion the head without sacrificing loft elsewhere.
The best pillow for any given sleeper should promote even spinal alignment by providing optimal cushioning for the head, neck, and shoulders. This factor is especially crucial for people with back pain, many of whom experience discomfort due to alignment issues in the first place.
Stomach sleepers with back pain should choose a low-loft pillow that won’t elevate their head to a significant extent. The same is somewhat true for back sleepers, though they may need a bit more loft to prevent their heads from falling back too much. Side sleepers with back pain may want to consider a medium- to high-loft pillow to ensure adequate cushioning for the head, neck, and shoulders.
The best pillows for people with neck pain will provide sufficient support without feeling too stiff or sinking excessively. In terms of composition, materials like solid memory foam, latex, and buckwheat hulls reinforce the head and neck quite well.
The pillow should also be firm and thick enough to maintain a full shape throughout the night. Pillows that contain down, feather, or down alternative fiber fill tend to be quite soft and overall support is fair at best, so sleepers with neck pain may want to bypass these products.
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