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According to many sources, we spend around 26 years of our existence asleep and another seven years just trying to get to sleep. With these two numbers, it’s surprising how many people are willing to put up with an uncomfortable sleeping situation. We get used to a pillow that’s too flat, thin, plump, hard, etc. We use a quilt that keeps us too hot through the night or a lumpy mattress that shaves minutes off our sleep on a nightly basis.
Considering the many fantastic brands and new sleep technologies that exist now is the best time to stop and think about your bedding. And today, we want to focus on pillows. For starters, experts recommend changing a pillow every two years. Despite this, the average person keeps a pillow for a little over three years.
Why is this a problem? Well, if we take a pillow that’s too flat as an example, this has the potential to cause neck strain and aching. Of course, this is before considering the sheer number of dust mites and bacteria gathered inside. Now that we know the important role that sleep plays on our overall health, it’s time to pay attention to your pillows and bedding.
After extensive testing and experience in this niche, we’ve created the ultimate guide for you here. As well as looking at some top-rated products, we’ll take you through the importance of your sleeping position, the different types of pillows that exist, pillow sizes, and general buying considerations, so you get the best pillow ever!
The Best Pillows
- Coop Home Goods: the best shredded memory foam pillow
- Continental Bedding: the best down pillow
- Bluewave Bedding: the best memory foam pillow
- Organic Textiles: the best latex pillow
- WENERSI: the best feather pillow
- Beans72: the best buckwheat pillow
- FitPlus: the best wedge pillow
- PharMeDoc: the best gel pillow
- EPABO: the best contour pillow
- Bedsure: the best firm pillow
- Mediflow: the best water pillow
- Perfect Soft: the best flat pillow
- K Ka Ua: the best neck roll pillow
- Snuggle-Pedic: the best body pillow
Table of Contents
The Best Pillows Comparison Table
- Adjustable design
- Hypoallergenic, RDS certified
- Washable Bamboo Fabric Cover
- Great value for money
- High-quality materials
- Offered in five different sizes
- Gradual slope minimizes snoring and acid reflux
- Conforming memory foam fill
- Adjustable design
- Two protective layer covers
- Infused with cooling gel
- Soft, machine washable poly-viscose blend cover
- Offers support by conforming to the neck
- 20-year warranty, 4-month sleep trial
The Best Pillows Reviews
Coop Home Goods: The Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
It doesn’t matter how you sleep; we genuinely believe Coop Home Goods to be the best shredded memory foam pillow on the market today. Using high-quality materials, it conforms to the shape of your body and isn’t actually too expensive. As noted in the features above, the manufacturer has settled on microfiber fill blended with gel-infused memory foam, and this is important for airflow and temperature regulation.
One of the things we love most about the pillow is that it’s possible to adjust the fill; you can just add or remove the shredded memory foam whenever required. When the product first arrives, you’ll probably find that it’s too plump for your liking. Therefore, just keep taking some fill out each night until you find the perfect balance.
Another reason why this product is ideal for airflow and keeping cool at night is the viscose rayon cover. Made of 40% bamboo and 60% polyester, it helps regulate body temperature, feels great under the head, and can even go in the machine. This last point is a huge benefit because it allows us to freshen the pillow every so often. Inside, the foam filling is held within a tight-knit Interlock fabric cover. Since this pillowcase is designed purely to hold the foam in place, it is much thinner than the outer cover.
For those concerned about support, Coop Home Goods contours to the head, but this doesn’t mean you can’t change position as the night goes on. Despite it containing the shredded pieces of memory foam, all you feel is a normal, solid pillow under your head (but with extra comfort and adjustability).
Additionally, the choice of materials makes it resistant to allergens, such as dust mites. With the hypoallergenic nature and other features in mind, it has received the GreenGuard Gold and CertiPUR-US certifications. Therefore, you can be confident that the product is made with no ozone-depleting substances; this includes lead, mercury, formaldehyde, and other heavy metals.
According to the manufacturer, we can put the pillow in the dryer whenever it starts to lose life. Just ten minutes of spinning will make the filling plump again. As long as you do this monthly, you won’t end up with a flat pillow (and neck strain!). Finally, we should also mention the 100-night refund policy. If you aren’t happy, simply contact the manufacturer, and they will give your money back with no question asked. On top of this, you will also have the protection of a five-year warranty.
Continental Bedding: The Best Down Pillow
Made from 100% white goose down (550 fill power), our next product comes in all sizes and fills - from soft to firm. When plumped up, the Continental Bedding pillow starts lofty and then settles under your bodyweight. With a luxurious feel, the pillow will help you to relax while providing support as it fills the gap between your neck and the mattress.
Continental Bedding has a breathable cover as it’s made of 100% Egyptian cotton (400-thread count). As a high-quality material, it should have a long life, and the double-stitched seams also prevent the fill from moving too much. Thanks to the clever construction, the pillow is hypoallergenic and can go into the machine to be washed and dried. For those with allergies, this is a brilliant feature.
In recent years, bedding manufacturers have been under pressure to source their down and feathers from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm. With the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification, you can be confident this is the case with Continental Bedding. If you like how a down pillow feels, their pillow will have no problem keeping you relaxed as you drift off to the land of nod.
Bluewave Bedding: The Best Memory Foam Pillow
We’ve had shredded memory foam, but what about the best solid memory foam pillow? Well, we’ve chosen Bluewave Bedding, and it has found a particular fan base in back and stomach sleepers seeking support for their spine. As an ultra-slim pillow, the loft is just 2.5 inches. Thanks to the memory foam filling, it never goes completely flat and always has room for compression. For back and stomach sleepers, the thin design is ideal.
If you want a slightly different loft, we have good news because Bluewave Bedding tries to accommodate the needs of people of all body shapes, types, and sizes. If you are a back sleeper who feels the standard 2.5-inch loft is too thin for your comfort, you might find more support in the 3.25- or 4-inch loft options. Even for those who change their position or sleep on their side, this extra height helps with the proper positioning of the head and neck.
Additionally, we like dual-sized shaping because it gives options when it comes to comfort. While one side is flat, the other is curved with rounded edges. Depending on how you’re feeling on any given night, just flip the pillow to whichever comfort choice you prefer. Of course, we can’t forget the memory foam filling, which will mold to the shape of your head nicely. Even though the pillow is thin, you still get a blend of pressure point relief and uplifting support for the head without making you feel as if you have a deep sink.
As a firm plush pillow, Bluewave Bedding is soft to the touch but has a supportive bottom. If it feels a little too firm or soft, why not choose the extra-soft or extra-firm options? For back sleepers, we recommend considering the firmer option because there’s less compression. Meanwhile, stomach sleepers should look at the softer surface for a deeper contour.
One of the biggest complaints about memory foam is the way it retains heat, but that doesn’t need to be a concern with Bluewave Bedding. Their memory foam has actually been infused with gel, which should regulate temperature and avoid buildups of heat during the night.
Elsewhere, we think you’ll like the double stitching on the seams (for added durability) and the sewn-in zipper, which helps to prevent snags and scratches. Inside the pillow, the foam is held within a breathable cotton cover; while it can’t be removed, spot cleaning is possible whenever necessary. When removing the outer cover, take caution because it’s quite a snug fit (there’s a danger of ripping if you try to pull the cover too quickly).
Covering structural and material defects, Bluewave Bedding offers a three-year warranty for this pillow (and all their products), which is a great advantage to choosing it. In addition to this, a 30-day refund is also available from the company’s associate sellers. With free shipping, you can return the pillow within the first 30 days if you aren’t happy with its performance.
Organic Textiles: The Best Latex Pillow
What makes Organic Textiles an option of such great value is that it is not too expensive, considering the highest quality it provides. With renewable, eco-friendly 100% natural latex, the pillow is plush and ideal for anybody accustomed to the softer design. You might wonder what Talalay latex is, and it actually differs from Dunlop latex in the manufacturing process. In comparison, Talalay tends to be bouncier, plusher, and a little more costly. One reason why you might consider it over Dunlop is the wide range of density options.
When people read the word ‘dense,’ they often panic. However, there’s no need with this pillow because it does have vents, which encourage airflow and can keep us cool when the weather gets warmer. If you have allergies, you’ll be pleased to know that Organic Textiles is naturally resistant to mildew, dust mites, and other bacteria. Over the many nights of sleep, this latex pillow should also hold its shape well.
Elsewhere, we love the 100% organic cotton cover. Although you can’t wash the pillow, the case can go in the machine whenever you want to freshen it up, and this is another benefit. Interestingly, we also found the product to have a distinct rubbery (almost sweet) smell as opposed to the persistent smell that normally comes with latex products. After airing it out, though, it quickly disappeared. Depending on your needs, you can also choose between a great variety of sizes.
WENERSI: The Best Feather Pillow
For the next product, we have WENERSI, a goose feather pillow that excels for side and back sleepers. While conforming and compressing well under your weight, it offers excellent underlying support for your head and neck. Thanks to a balance of 85% goose feathers and 15% white goose down, you’re less likely to experience the ‘crunch’ that often comes with pure feather pillows (down also makes the pillow softer and more malleable). As soon as you lie down in the evening, this feather pillow will respond instantly to pressure, conform easily to your body shape, and offer support wherever you need it (especially helping those pressure points).
Whether you choose a firm or soft support option, it will be available in King or Queen size. During testing, we looked at the soft version, and the material was clearly high in quality; it conformed nicely (without the head sinking too far), and the pillow was easy to shape to our own needs.
The breathable cover is 100% cotton; the whole design is actually a pretty one with a handmade aesthetic, silver edges, and medium density. You may know that it’s possible to put some feather pillows in the machine, but dry cleaning is the suggested solution for this one. However, if you love a soft, comfortable pillow that you can snuggle with in the evening, we think WENERSI is well worth your consideration.
Beans72: The Best Buckwheat Pillow
Next up, we have a truly unique product, making use of Sobakawa, a technique from Japan that originated over 600 years ago. Utilizing the buckwheat seed hulls, the Beans72 pillow allows air to circulate well, offering a cool and comfortable sleep experience for the user all night long. What’s more, the pillow can provide personalized shaping to properly hold our head and neck in place while you sleep.
Those who have used a Beans72 pillow may consider it ‘hard’ or ‘heavy.’ This is true; however, this level of support helps with neck, head, and spinal alignment as the movable hulls adjust to our body. On the other hand, we appreciate that some people are used to softer surfaces and might find it hard to enjoy a harder pillow. Fortunately, you can adjust comfort and your experience by opening the zipper and adding/removing buckwheat hulls to fit your exact firmness preferences.
Inside the pillow, you’ll find organically-sourced buckwheat husks, so you don’t have to worry about the use of pesticides or herbicides. This is especially true with the unbleached 100% cotton cover, which is very durable yet very smooth to sleep on. In order to remove the buckwheat flour, debris, and dust, all the buckwheat husks go through a thorough cleaning process with three different steps.
Manufactured in the US, the Beans72 buckwheat pillow has been designed with natural comfort in mind. To add even more durability, the manufacturer has chosen high-quality materials, and this should extend the pillow’s lifespan.
FitPlus: The Best Wedge Pillow
Throughout this guide, there are two things we haven’t yet mentioned; the issues of snoring and acid reflux. If you’re affected by either of these two conditions, you need a wedge pillow, and we highly recommend this design from FitPlus. On top, you’ll find two inches of memory foam, which contours comfortably to the shape of your body and helps to relieve stress, pressure, and chronic pain. All things considered, the slope isn’t too dramatic and offers maximum comfort for back and side sleepers.
Why would you consider an incline with your pillow? Well, some suggest that it helps to prevent many respiratory and circulatory issues. Since you’re not sleeping with your back flat on the surface, you can benefit from proper neck and head alignment. Also, this helps with the following sleeping problems;
- Acid reflux
- Allergic reactions
- Chronic pain
- Breathing issues
Often, people think the shape of a wedge pillow will keep them awake. However, most FitPlus users say that the pillow’s elevation is actually subtle and comfortable. While you can put it on top of a standard pillow to get even higher, ultimately, it’s up to you to find the elevation that works best in your particular situation.
The base of the pillow is made of premium-grade polyurethane foam, which allows for the firm support. Once you add in the memory foam in the upper layer, it gets nice and soft, and you end up getting an advanced product for a reasonable price. If you’re interested in knowing the size, the FitPlus wedge pillow measures at 28 x 24 x 7.5 inches. Also, for those who plan to move the pillow about, it weighs just over 4.5 pounds.
Of course, the cover is often just as important as the pillow itself. With the FitPlus, it’s removable, breathable, and can go in the machine to be washed. In case all of this wasn’t enough, you also get a two-year warranty.
PharMeDoc: The Best Gel Pillow
For the next recommendation, we have the best gel pillow, and it’s actually reversible. While one side has memory foam for cool nights, the other uses cooling gel to prevent the buildup of heat. The side with the thermoregulating cooling gel effectively diffuses heat and provides a cooling surface to sleep on even the warmest of nights. All the while, the conforming memory foam on the other side provides great support for the neck and head, keeps the spine aligned, and reduces the tension on pressure points.
Over the years, PharMeDoc has earned a reputation for its menopause pillows, but don’t let this steer you away if this isn’t your intention. For those with sensitive skin or allergies, the cover is hypoallergenic and can also be removed to make cleaning easier. According to the manufacturer, you should be good for at least 300 washes.
All in all, customer reviews for this pillow have always been high, and two reasons seem to stick out above all others; cooling features and affordable price. On the other hand, one of the main complaints from customers is the strong smell when unpacking the pillow for the first time. Don’t worry, cooling pillows often have this problem, and this is why the manufacturer recommends leaving the pillow to air for at least 48 hours. Soon enough, the memory foam won’t hold the smell, and you can sleep comfortably. If you happen to experience any other issues, this product comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
EPABO: The Best Contour Pillow
When it comes to contouring memory foam, there is really no competition to the EPABO pillow, and you’ll see why when you start reading customer reviews. On Amazon, EPABO is loved, and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, it comes with advanced levels of support for the shoulders, head, neck, and upper back. Regardless of your sleeping position, the pillow should offer therapeutic relief (especially for those with neck pain), and this means a good night’s sleep and energy in the morning.
If you have different sleeping needs from one night to the next, you’re in good hands because the pillow is adjustable. There’s a small memory foam piece at the bottom that can be removed/added. If you sleep on your stomach, take this 0.8-inch piece out, and you’ll be comfortable. While the loft of the sides can’t be altered, this is because they play a key role in your neck and spine alignment.
What about the cover? Well, it’s a rayon-polyester blend; it’s hypoallergenic, resistant to dust mites, and also very soft. Despite the choice of memory foam, this pillow is actually breathable and allows sleepers to stay cool as air circulates through the surface. And, don’t worry, there are no chemicals used in making this pillow to protect your health. If you do happen to experience problems and want a refund, simply take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee from the manufacturer.
Warning: We believe this pillow may be too firm for anybody with severe cervical pain. Instead, we recommend choosing a softer pillow. Also, don’t return the pillow immediately because it often takes a couple of weeks for the body to adjust to the correct position.
Bedsure: The Best Firm Pillow
The first thing you’re likely to notice about this Bedsure pillow is the ergonomic design. On the upper side, the pillow is built to reflect a couple of rising waves, and this provides a supportive sleeping surface. Although the shaping looks different to what we’re accustomed to, the varying heights actually allow for the perfect contouring to the shape of your neck, so you should never wake up feeling stiff.
As you probably know by now, memory foam is a brilliant material for remembering the shape of your body and continually improving your sleeping experience. With this cervical pillow, you’ll instantly notice the softness, but it’s not overly soft to allow your head to sink down to the bed.
The high-density memory foam is a huge advantage for back and side sleepers who want to keep the neck and spine aligned. The perfect height of Bedsure can also help to address neck pain - the neck will have support without any extra pressure on the head. With all of these factors together, we think there’s a wonderful balance between firmness and comfort.
To further encourage deep rest, Bedsure has chosen two-layer covers; an outer cover made of microfiber and an inner cover made of cotton. Thankfully, we can keep the outer cover clean at all times by washing in the machine. If you tend to sleep hot, you will also have an interest in this pillow because there’s an air mesh on both sides for improved airflow.
In terms of size, we found this pillow a little smaller than ‘standard,’ and this is only really a problem if you move a lot in your sleep. The gel memory foam adds to cooling and contains no PBDE, methane chloride, or formaldehyde. If you choose Bedsure, you also get free customer service indefinitely and access to a return and replacement service for the first month.
Mediflow: The Best Water Pillow
We know that some people will see a water pillow and immediately skip to the next option, but we urge you to consider this one. Thanks to Mediflow, we have a water pillow that combines memory foam and water. Additionally, it has even been infused with cooling gel to keep sleepers cool on warm nights. With the Waterbase technology, there’s evidence shown in a John Hopkins study that you can both improve the quality of your sleep and effectively alleviate neck pain.
The upper side contains memory foam and is positioned to boost alignment with the neck and head, offering both cervical support and comfort. The water chamber underneath is insulated while adding to comfort and responding to your movements. Fortunately, there are also airflow pockets in the memory foam to prevent heat retention, unlike what you’d see with traditional memory foam pillows.
If you test the pillow and can’t get the right comfort and firmness, just play around with the trademark water pouch (which is only available in this water pillow). As the finishing touch, the whole design comes together with a cotton 300-thread count cover. Not only does it increase comfort further, but it is also hypoallergenic. Finally, all Mediflow customers will get a warranty of three years and a return policy lasting 30 days.
Perfect Soft: The Best Flat Pillow
Ask the average sleeper what makes the ‘best pillow for sleeping,’ and many will talk about ‘fluffy,’ ‘thick,’ and ‘soft’ pillows. In reality, we’re starting to learn that bigger isn’t always better. Instead, some sleepers need a flat pillow. And, while this Perfect Soft pillow might be soft, this doesn’t mean it lacks support in any way.
Ideal for back and stomach sleepers, this thin memory foam pillow still offers firm support for the spine, neck, and head without a problem. If you tend to wake up with back pain, a stiff neck, shoulder pain, or orthopedic issues, this pillow is a brilliant option because it will always adjust as you move. Some side sleepers tend to fold the pillow in half. Although this has worked for some, we never really feel comfortable recommending it because the pillow can bounce back easily and wake you up. With a disrupted sleep, you aren’t fully resting, and you’ll be even more tired the next day.
The removable and washable cover is made of a 60/40 poly-viscose blend, and this lends itself to a soft surface. Stomach sleepers get on with the cover especially well, because it allows for a good night’s sleep without any scratching.
Away from the pillow itself, it has the CertiPUR certification, and this is always great news. Essentially, it means both yourself and the environment are safe from harmful chemicals (unlike with some regular memory foam pillows). Also, the Perfect Soft pillow is hypoallergenic, so allergies shouldn’t ever be an issue.
K Ka Ua: The Best Neck Roll Pillow
As we reach the final two pillows, we find the best cervical roll pillow. Designed to support the cervical spine, back, and neck, it contains memory foam and will mold to the shape of your body. Compared to shredded foam or the cheap sponge foam that seems to be more prominent on the market than ever before, a solid chunk of memory foam in this pillow stands tall for support and comfort. As a neck roll pillow, it will work wonders.
What’s so great about this pillow is that it can be used wherever required; you can even buy two and have the second under the knees, between the legs, or somewhere else entirely. Measuring at just four inches, you can take it wherever you go, and wherever you may sleep.
A plush bamboo-polyester blend zippered cover is not only soft to the touch, but it’s also hypoallergenic and machine washable for easy cleaning. While some pillows concentrate too much on the softness, the K Ka Ua pillow offers long-lasting support. Even if you travel around the world, we believe this pillow is small enough for a carry-on. Wherever you may go, you’ll always have comfort and support with you.
Snuggle-Pedic: The Best Body Pillow
When thinking about the ‘best pillow ever,’ some people need more than just something under their head, and this is where body pillows come in. Offering breathability, comfort, support, and everything else you need from a pillow, we’ve chosen Snuggle-Pedic as our best body pillow option.
Made of shredded memory foam filling in the United States, is hypoallergenic, uses eco-friendly bio green materials, carries the CertiPUR-US certification, is resistant to dust mites, and also holds no toxic materials; what else could you possibly want from a body pillow?
It doesn’t matter how you sleep; Snuggle-Pedic aims to conform to your body and provide the right support at all times. Rather than a block of memory foam, the manufacturer has chosen shredded memory foam, which means it will adjust to your chosen position easily. After a good night’s sleep, the pillow will simply return back to normal without going flat or sinking excessively (a problem with many designs!). As well as encouraging alignment, this pillow molds to your desired shape so your legs, back, knees, and hips get the support they need night after night.
We’ve also chosen the Snuggle-Pedic body pillow for durability, and this comes through the removable hypoallergenic cover. Thanks to the viscose bamboo fiber, you shouldn’t overheat during the hot night because it promotes temperature regulation.
If you plan on moving the body pillow from one location to the next, bear in mind that this one measures 20 x 54 inches and is heavy… but this is required for the support we’ve already discussed. If you aren’t enjoying the Snuggle-Pedic body pillow after 120 nights, just send it back without paying a cent. Also, you will have strong protection from the 20-year warranty.
The Best Pillows Buying Guide
After looking through the top-rated pillows in the first section, you’re likely to be asking yourself, ‘which is the best pillow ever'? Fortunately, this guide will help you to answer this very question. With the wrong pillow, you could end up losing sleep and waking up with even more pain and discomfort than before. Therefore, this decision is an important one.
When choosing a pillow, there are a number of considerations to make, including the fill material. We’ve seen some examples above, but the extensive list of materials includes polyester, buckwheat, cotton, memory foam, latex, cotton, wool, feathers, and down. While some are organic and natural, others are manmade.
After material, another consideration is the pillow thickness (loft). If you don’t consider what YOU find comfortable, as well as your body type and sleeping position, your chosen pillow may cause more harm than good. Even after this, you need to think about the many different sizes available on the market these days.
There’s no such thing as the best pillow in the world, but you can find what works for YOU. Let’s continue and uncover what pillows suit the different sleeping positions, the types of pillows you might encounter, as well as their pros and cons, sizes, loft, common fillings, and more!
Types of Pillows
Traditionally, a pillow would be rectangular with four corners. These days, this is just one of many shapes. Whether you want a tiny pillow for traveling or a lengthy body pillow, you will find it. Below, we’ve listed the most popular choices.
This is what most people picture when the word ‘pillow’ is mentioned. As we’ve just discovered, it’s a simple rectangular-shaped pillow most commonly found in bedrooms, which works well with Queen and Standard sized pillowcases.
Rather than rectangular, European pillows are generally square in shape, and they aren’t normally used for sleeping. Instead, they sit on the bed during the day, used as a decoration, and perhaps help get us comfortable while sitting up reading or watching TV. If an emergency, they can also go underneath your sleeping pillow for added height.
As a form of a body pillow, pregnancy pillows are designed to provide relief and comfort in the strained areas that often appear during pregnancy. Since they wrap around the body, they resemble an upside-down letter “U,” where the head rests at the top of the curve. At the same time, the back will be cushioned by one of the pillow sides, and the stomach will rest on the other. Those who can’t get comfortable when the sun goes down often turn to this clever pillow design.
Finally, just as we saw with the pregnancy pillow, this is a much longer pillow (about the same size as your body), and it is used for pain relief. With hip or joint pain, side sleepers can hug onto the body pillow as it sits between their knees. This leads to reduced pressure points and healthy spinal alignment.
As the name suggests, a neck pillow fits snugly around your neck and keeps the head in a natural position while also supporting the neck muscles. The typical U-shaped designs of neck pillows allow frequent travelers to sleep even while restricted to an airplane seat. If you have chronic neck pain, there’s no reason why you can’t take advantage of this design in your day-to-day life too.
Since they provide a natural resting position for the neck and allow the muscles to relax, contoured pillows are considered orthopedic. With two different slopes, one higher than the other, it’s up to you to find out which side you prefer. Either way, your head will rest in the center of a pillow on a shallow plateau. Sadly, a contoured pillow won’t suit stomach sleepers because this group of sleepers requires a low loft.
Although in a rectangular shape, lumbar pillows differ to standard pillows in height. Measuring roughly the same as the small of the back, it can fit snugly between the mattress and the spine. Unless your mattress molds to the shape of your body, a small gap is created in the area between your lower back and the bed. Fortunately, a lumbar pillow fills the gap, and we shouldn’t wake up feeling stiffness or pain. Not only does it ease pain, but it also feels great.
Like a block of cheese or a doorstop, wedge pillow is thick at one end, thin at the other, and has a slope in between. Therefore, lying down on one of these pillows will elevate the neck, head, shoulders, and upper back. Not only does this upright position help with alignment, but it’s also perfect for watching TV or reading in bed. For those with chronic back pain, a wedge pillow can also sit under the knees to ease pressure on the tailbone.
Shaped like a semi-circle with the two different sides (one flat and the other rounded), a bolster pillow is particularly useful when used under the knees. For side and back sleepers, this positioning will relieve pressure and encourage blood circulation. You can also place it in between the knees to keep the spine aligned while alleviating pain in the joints, legs, knees, back, hips, or ankles.
Pillows by Different Sleeping Positions
Sometimes, we see people focusing too much on thickness, pressure relief, material, loft, and other factors that they forget about themselves. Not everybody sleeps the same way, so you need to think about your sleeping habits and how this might affect your choice of a pillow.
Marginally more popular than back sleepers, 16% to 14%, stomach sleepers should be looking for a soft pillow with low loft. Why? Because we don’t want the neck craning upwards during sleep. The problem with sleeping on the stomach is that keeping natural alignment would mean having our face flat in a pillow; naturally, we turn our heads to the side to breathe, twisting your neck. With this, stomach sleepers need a flat pillow so that their neck isn’t tilted and twisted too far.
According to a survey on WebMD, around seven in every ten people sleep on their side; the remaining 30% is split fairly evenly between back and stomach sleepers. In all likelihood, you’re a side sleeper, and this means you need to consider neck alignment with a firm pillow with a higher loft. With a pillow between four- and six-inches underneath your head, you will be able to keep your neck healthily in line with the rest of your body. Contoured pillows are a great choice as they have two edges, and you can choose the edge that suits your neck most comfortably.
On the other hand, you don’t want the neck to sink down too far, and this is why we recommend against soft pillows; unfortunately, they will cause your neck to rest in unnatural angle (and you’ll wake up with strains and stiffness!).
If you’re a back sleeper, you’re most likely to toss and turn during the night (we’re sure your partner will attest to this if you aren’t sure!). With this in mind, the best pillow for back sleepers should have a perfect balance between firmness and loft. When lying flat on the back, you want to encourage a natural curvature of the spine, and this comes with neck and shoulder alignment. In other words, a pillow that’s too thin or too thick will be bad news.
Choosing a Perfect Loft
When we use the term ‘loft,’ this generally refers to the thickness or even height of a pillow. There are currently three categories in the market, and the loft you choose will decide your comfort and support in the coming nights. Your three options are;
- Low - pillows under three inches thick
- Medium - pillows between three and five inches thick
- High - pillows above five inches thick
In our experience, a pillow that’s overly thick or thin won’t lend itself to comfort while trying to sleep. This being said, buying bedding is all about personal preference, so we would never discourage you from trying something new. When choosing between the three loft options, you need to consider the following;
If we look at latex and memory foam mattresses, they sink deeply under the weight of the sleeper, and this means a low loft pillow is needed. When sinking isn’t the case, such as with innersprings, support and comfort needs to come from medium-to-high loft pillows. When choosing a loft, you also need to consider the firmness of your mattress and how this affects the gap between the sleep surface and your head.
Do you have a heavier or larger head than most? If so, you need extra support and comfort in your pillow, and this comes from products with a higher loft. If you have a lighter head, you don’t require as much loft. After your head size, we also recommend considering your shoulder width. With wide shoulders, you’re likely to have a larger gap between the pillow and your head, which can be filled with extra loft.
If you weigh under 130 pounds, you aren’t likely to compress the mattress too much, and the extra space between the sleep surface and your head can be filled with a lower loft pillow. On the other hand, a higher loft is required by those over 230 pounds because they compress the mattress down further. For anyone in between, a medium loft should work just fine.
Where is your pillow when you sleep? This might sound like a silly question, and you might be cautiously thinking ‘under my head,’ but some people sleep on the edge of a pillow while others place their head right in the middle. When you sleep on the edge, a higher loft will make up for the lack of support elsewhere. When in the middle, you don’t need quite so much loft, and a low-to-medium loft pillow will work perfectly.
The medium loft is well suited to back sleepers because it provides a balance of softness and thickness. On the other hand, side sleepers have a gap between the mattress and their head; this calls for a medium or even a higher loft pillow. Finally, some stomach sleepers choose to forgo the pillow completely. If you are a stomach sleeper who prefers extra cushioning, a lower loft pillow will work.
Common Pillow Sizes
Generally speaking, there are six different pillow sizes;
- Super Standard
As long as you consider your mattress size and personal preferences, you can choose the best pillow size that keeps you comfortable for many years to come.
First up, the most common size you’ll find on the market is 20 x 26 inches. Considered ‘standard,’ this is the most compact-sized pillows except for the special European size. As a result, they’re cheaper than most other options and will suit both Full and Twin mattresses. With two pillows, you can also accommodate both King and Queen mattresses.
How does this differ from the standard pillow? A Super Standard pillow is two inches longer. Ultimately, it’s designed and available for those who find the standard size is a little too compact.
At this point, we come to an even longer pillow as the length of a Queen-sized pillow measures 30 inches. With the head in the middle, there’s now plenty of room on either side for those who like to move around during the course of a night.
Just like a Queen, a King-sized pillow is designed to offer more space on either side of the pillow, but this time the pillow measures 20 x 36 inches. Not only will this help while moving during sleep, but it also works as a nice backrest when sitting up and reading or watching TV.
If you like to hug onto something while sleeping (and your partner needs their space), why not choose a body pillow? Available as 48 x 20 inches or 54 x 20 inches, they’re particularly popular during pregnancy and for side sleepers.
As we discovered earlier, a European cushion is completely square, and it comes in all sorts of sizes;
- 16 x 16 inches
- 18 x 18 inches
- 20 x 20 inches
- 22 x 22 inches
- 24 x 24 inches
- 26 x 26 inches
Rather than pillows underneath the head, most people use them either as decoration or to lean on while reading or simply resting on the bed.
Types of Pillow Fillings
We know all about loft and the different sizes of pillows; now we want to look at filling options in more detail. Not only will we introduce the different fillings, but we’ll also look at the pros and cons of each type so you can make an informed decision based on your wants and needs.
If you’re someone who likes to think outside the box, you might be interested in a water pillow. Depending on what you find comfortable, simply adjust the loft by adding/removing water.
- All water is insulated through an inner pouch, and this should allow the sleeper to stay cool during the night
- Water pillows offer pressure relief, support, and they conform to the shape of your neck and head
- They are fully adjustable which means sleepers can find the most comfortable fill for them from one night to the next
- It might take a few nights to get the loft and water filling to the right level
- Water can make the pillow heavy and difficult to move
Polyester pillows are entirely filled with polyester fibers. Some low-loft options are available, but they are normally a medium-to-high loft.
- Maintenance is almost non-existent with very little shaking required
- The odor should never be a problem
- Polyester pillows are naturally hypoallergenic (this helps anybody who is allergic to down or latex)
- Probably the cheapest pillow option of all with most falling under $20
- Polyester pillows can be noisy when they are bearing weight
- Polyester is also known for poor pressure and pain relief
- The material can absorb lots of body heat which causes problems in the summer months
- These pillows can go flat after little use, and this makes durability an issue
Whenever these terms are used, it suggests that there are no petrochemical or synthetic components used in the pillow. For example, you might find 100% natural silk, cotton, or wool pillows. Sometimes, manufacturers will also use 100% natural or organic latex.
- All organic/natural pillows will absorb less heat
- Ideal for people who sleep hot because natural fibers are breathable
- The sleeper will have comfort and support in abundance
- The pillow will be inherently softer than synthetic materials
- These pillows are normally very expensive (upwards of $100, some exceed $500)
- Natural and organic pillows can be hard to find
Perhaps the best pillow type for cradling the head and conforming to the sleeper’s shape, memory foam, is technically known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam. While some pillows use a solid block of memory foam, others are filled with shredded foam pieces so that the user has more control over its shape. Fortunately, we can choose between different lofts, whether we need low, medium, or high-loft designs.
- Memory foam pillows produce little to no noise
- Ideal for back and side sleepers
- Widely available in stores and online
- Memory foam pillows provide pressure and pain relief with the perfect balance of comfort and support
- Suitable for people with different body types and weights
- Buyers should expect to pay between $40 and $60 for such a pillow, as memory foam is typically more expensive than many other materials
- Memory foam often comes with off-gassing odors (an unpleasant smell that can stick around for the first couple of days)
As a natural substance, latex is sourced from rubber tree sap before the manufacturing process turns it into a frothy material ready to conform to the contours of the body. Similar to memory foam, those who choose latex pillows will enjoy the pressure relief and support on offer. Not only are different firmness options available, but latex pillows also tend to come in the medium and high loft.
- Latex pillows don’t absorb too much heat in the summer months
- Latex is known for being quiet when bearing weight
- You don’t need to worry about shaking and fluffing because latex pillows should retain their shape (a common problem with shredded memory foam, down, feather, and others)
- They offer strong support and the pressure point relief is above-average compared to most other materials
- Latex pillows sometimes come with a rubbery smell
- Those who prefer stable pillow surface may not like the bouncy nature of latex
- Latex isn’t the cheapest material on the market, and the average price falls between $40 and $60
While down pillows come from the plumage of a goose or duck, feather pillows are made from the feathers of the birds. While some models offer around 10% down, many feather pillows have no down at all. On the market, you’re likely to find low-to-medium loft feather pillows.
- Feather pillows are affordable (falling between down alternative and genuine down in term of pricing)
- Sleepers will get more life from feather compared to other materials
- Feather pillows shouldn’t retain too much heat in the warmer months
- They are malleable, soft, and lightweight
- Sleepers will need to fluff and shake feather pillows to get them back to shape
- The low loft is a problem for some
- Feather pillows often produce an unpleasant odor
- A crunching noise can occur with the quills
- The quills at the base of each feather can poke through the duvet cover
Normally made from polyester fibers, down alternative pillows feel the same as genuine down but without the expensive price tag and the allergy issues.
- Down alternative pillows don’t take long to break-in
- The material is malleable and soft
- Those that have allergies can enjoy the down experience but without the reaction that normally comes with it
- Down alternatives are generally more affordable than genuine down
- Down alternative pillows often require shaking and fluffing just to get the shape back
- Many sleepers experience an increase in pressure and pain after a few years of using down alternative pillows
- Genuine down tends to be more durable than down alternative
There’s a common misconception that down is a feather, but this simply isn’t true. Instead, it comes from the plumage of geese and ducks. Although some down pillows will contain feathers as well as down, no pillow can hold more than 25% feather fill and still be considered a ‘down’ pillow.
- Down pillows generally last longer than average pillows
- Sleepers grow accustomed to down relatively quickly
- Down pillows absorb some body heat which can help in the winter
- They are high in comfort
- Lightweight and malleable under the weight of the sleeper
- Down is known to emit an unpleasant smell and carries an allergy risk for some sleepers
- Regular fluffing is required if the sleeper is to enjoy the proper support and comfort
- Some side sleepers will be disappointed by the low or medium loft of down pillows (as well as those with broad shoulders)
- Some down pillows can exceed $200 making it one of the more expensive options
Buckwheat pillows are filled with hulls or the outer shell (husk-like) around the kernels. In terms of weight, most pillows will contain anywhere from five to ten pounds of buckwheat hulls.
- Buckwheat hulls do not absorb as much body heat as other pillow materials
- Sleepers will enjoy pressure and pain relief
- Many manufacturers allow for customization, and this means sleepers get the exact amount of fill they need
- Support is higher than average with buckwheat pillows
- The lack of heat absorption is often an issue in the colder months
- Repositioning is difficult with each pillow potentially weighing ten pounds
- Sleepers that require softness and cushioning may not enjoy the firm nature of buckwheat pillows (this includes those under 130 pounds and side sleepers)
- They’re cheaper than down pillows but still expensive with many going beyond the $100 mark
Should I Replace My Pillow?
Normally, one of the most common questions we receive regards the condition of a pillow and whether people need to invest in a new one. For the most part, manufacturers and experts will tell you to replace your pillow every few years. But what does this mean?
Well, we first recommend looking for bumps and lumps in your old pillow. Over time, your head can cause a dent in memory foam, or you might notice a clump of feather or shredded filling all in one location.
After this, pay attention to the smell of your pillow. If your pillow isn’t odor-resistant or hasn’t been cleaned regularly enough, it will eventually develop a smell. If you clean the pillow and it still smells, it’s time to spend some money.
If your pillow has passed the first two tests, you now need to assess whether your pillow can hold its shape. If you have a down or fiberfill pillow, just fold it in half. While those with little life will stay folded over, pillows still feeling young and vibrant will spring back almost instantly.
Next up, perhaps you’re considering a new mattress? If it’s different to your existing one, your pillow needs are likely to change in order to still provide spinal alignment and pressure point relief.
Finally, how do you feel after a night’s sleep? If you wake up with aches and pains, this is indicative of a pillow problem. Therefore, it’s time to get a new one.
Utilizing Trial Periods and Warranties
Manufacturers are aware that even the best pillows on the market won’t suit everybody, and this is why they offer trial periods and warranties, so take advantage of them. Sleep trials are designed to allow potential customers to test the pillow and then return it if it doesn’t suit them. As long as you complete the steps laid out by the manufacturer within 30 days (or however long they offer), you won’t have to pay a cent.
In terms of warranties, these are normally a minimum of one year and will protect you in case of poor quality or manufacturer defects.
Using a High-Quality Pillow to Deal with Discomfort
While some sleepers have to deal with all sorts of aches and pains on a nightly basis, others suffer from sleep apnea. Luckily, the market for these ailments has improved in recent years. Whatever your discomfort, we’re confident you’ll find a best-rated pillow to help. Below, we’ve listed a number of examples to give you some ideas.
For pregnant women, it’s a rewarding experience, yet one that also brings sleeping troubles as it’s hard to get comfortable. With a special pregnancy pillow, you’ll have a ‘C’ or ‘U’ shape to allow for maximum comfort without any pressure on the stomach. When choosing a pillow, we recommend thinking about three things;
Filling - While memory foam will hug the body and offer contouring, feathers and down will suit body pillows nicely.
- Size - If you’re small in height, choose a smaller pillow; otherwise, you won’t get the same support and comfort.
- Cover - You’re going to use the pillow every night, so we recommend one with a washable cover.
Not an ailment as such, but we wanted to provide some advice for parents of toddlers, nonetheless. With a toddler, the smaller size of their neck and head means that sleeping on a regular pillow is difficult. Plus, there are several more factors to keep in mind before choosing the best pillow for a toddler.
Firstly, we recommend thinking about allergies. Since many small children have allergies without our knowledge, it’s safer to choose a hypoallergenic pillow. Next, child suffocation is a real issue, so never buy a pillow that’s extremely soft.
In our experience, polyester and cotton are wise choices because they’re organic and won’t contain chemicals and dyes. Lastly, firm down is a brilliant filling (assuming your child doesn’t have allergies) as well as memory foam.
While those who have never experienced them will dismiss migraines as ‘headaches,’ those in the know will simply shake their head at this claim. Migraine is caused by a spasm of the main artery that supplies the brain with blood and can last for as long as three days. As soon as this artery contracts, we get the familiar pulsing, pain, and even nausea. While migraines can affect even the simplest of tasks like bending over, they also impact our ability to sleep.
There are many causes of migraines, but a poor sleeping position is one of the most common (as well as being one of the easiest to fix). With alignment in the neck and spine, you can correct the problem and hopefully relieve the nerves of irritation. For us, the best pillow for this problem would be buckwheat, memory foam, or latex. As long as it offers alignment, any additional cooling properties would be a bonus.
Frustrating people (and their partners!) all over the globe, snoring is an issue that never seems to go away. We see it as an annoying problem, but it’s actually a medical condition because the air and nasal passages become blocked, creating a loud snoring sound. Over time, this can disturb our (and our partner’s) sleep, and we’re suddenly feeling tired on a daily basis while also struggling with concentration.
Ideally, you need to open the airways by elevating the neck, head, and shoulders. Some adjustable beds these days can help keep the airways open by elevating the head with a ‘Snore’ feature. If you only have the budget for a pillow, keep the upper body elevated with a special anti-snore pillow design.
With 7.7 billion people in the world, it’s fair to say that allergies are common. Some pillows could be contributing to allergic reactions, and this is true of latex. Meanwhile, other filings gather dust mites over time, and this causes allergic reactions (such as a feather). How can you resolve this problem? It’s simple, find a hypoallergenic pillow and a cover.
If you’re suffering from neck, shoulder, or back pain, the likely cause is either an old/battered pillow or your mattress. Of course, you should also be wary of certain conditions, so don’t be afraid to contact your doctor if the problem persists even after testing new bedding. In our experience, it’s the lack of consideration for our own body type, weight, and sleeping position that causes problems. We’ve covered it before, but here’s a brief breakdown of the best pillows according to your sleep position just in case;
- Back Sleepers - you need medium loft with contouring toward the spine.
- Side Sleepers - you need a medium or high loft with more contouring from the base of the neck to the ear.
- Stomach Sleepers - to prevent curving in the neck, you need a flat or lower loft pillow since your head is already close to the mattress.
If you want to relieve some pressure, memory foam will always be a good choice. Alternatively, those who prefer natural materials can choose natural latex.
Sometimes, sleep apnea is a problem that goes unnoticed for some time. As a sleep disorder, it causes the sleeper to repeatedly stop and start breathing during the night. There are three different types of sleep apnea:
- Central Sleep Apnea - Often shortened to CSA, this condition happens when your brain fails to transmit signals to the proper muscles allowing you to breathe.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Referred to as OSA, the majority of people have this form of sleep apnea, and it’s a result of the throat muscles relaxing too much and blocking the airway.
- Complex Sleep Apnea - Finally, the name tells the story with complex sleep apnea because it can be a combination of the two variations above.
For the most part, the head needs elevation with obstructive sleep apnea. With a wedge pillow, the upper body is elevated, and the airways shouldn’t get blocked. After seeking medical treatment, a doctor might also suggest the assistance of a CPAP machine. Though quite cumbersome in design, these machines will help to keep the airways open through the night. With regards to the best pillow for CPAP machines, there are now products designed especially for patients wearing a face mask, so you don’t need to worry about being uncomfortable at night.
Caring for a Pillow
If you don’t want to be reading our guide again in the near future, the best thing you can do is care for your pillow with regular cleaning. When choosing a product, we highly recommend one that can be cleaned easily for this very reason. Ultimately, it’s best to always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
These days, the majority of pillowcases and covers can go in the machine while the filling itself cannot. Again, the instructions will explain whether to wash on a low setting, air dry, wash only in a front-loading washer, etc. Other pillows are dry clean or spot clean only. To maintain their loft and shape, feather and down pillows also need regular fluffing.
Finding the Right Pillow - The Ultimate Checklist
In this ultimate best pillow guide, it only seems right that we bring it to a close with the ultimate checklist. When deciding aspects of your new pillow, answer these questions, and you won’t go far wrong.
- Do you want to adjust the loft from one night to the next?
- Do you sleep hot or live in a warm climate?
- Do you have any allergies?
- What sort of firmness rating do you need?
- Are you looking for pressure point relief?
- Do you suffer from shoulder or neck pain?
- Are you looking for longevity and durability?
- How much money do you have to spend?
- Do you like your head on the edge of a pillow or right in the middle?
- Is your mattress firm or soft?
- What type of mattress do you sleep on?
- Is your head small, large, light, heavy, or simply what you would consider ‘average’ in size?
- How about the size of your shoulders?
- How much do you weigh?
- Do you sleep on your back, stomach, or side?
- Do you only use your bed for sleeping? Or do you also watch TV and read in bed?
- Do you stay still or move frequently while sleeping?
- Where do you place your head on the pillow?
- Would you rather have a long pillow or a compact design?
- What is the size of your mattress?
- Is there a simple returns process?
- Is there free shipping with the order?
- What protection do you have with the warranty?
- Can the pillow and/or cover go in the machine? Are you happy to clean according to the instructions, if not?
- Does it come with a sleep trial?
That’s it; you should find everything you could ever possibly want and need in this guide while trying to find your next pillow. Which is the right pillow? By this stage, you should know that this is a trick question. There’s no best pillow in the world; it all depends on YOU.
While looking for products, don’t forget our suggestions in the first part of this guide and also read customer reviews. Want to know what others in your position thought of a certain pillow? Reviews will always tell you. Good luck and here’s to better sleep for us all!