While we can spend ages deciding on which mattress to buy, we often spend a lot less time searching out the best pillow. Choose the right pillow and it can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.
This is because a good posture while you sleep will see you wake pain-free and without stiffness. The American Sleep Association (ASA) and other experts encourage consumers to invest in a better pillow to help reduce snoring, alleviate neck and back pain, and improve the overall quality of sleep. Sleeping well and waking refreshed on a regular basis means your overall wellbeing will be that much better.
What makes a great pillow? The two key criteria when looking for the right pillow for you are comfort and support. Ultimately the best pillow will not only be comfortable to rest your head on, but also provide head, neck and shoulder support.
1. Sleep Number Comfortfit: best soft pillow
Very soft but with great support for neck and back, especially for side sleepers
Available sizes: Standard and King | Machine washable: No | Filling: Foam-shredded | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Warranty: 5 years
The filling is made from hypoallergenic memory foam that has been shredded to help it keep its shape while still letting you fluff and punch it into the perfect position for your body. It also cushions your head softly without causing your head to sink down to the bottom.
Even after several months of use, the Sleep Number Comfortfit still kept its shape and firmness, while the five-year warranty means that if something goes wrong you can return or exchange it.
There are two sizes to choose from, standard or king size. If you’ve got a queen size bed, the standard size is a touch on the small side, so you might want to plump for the king. Something to also consider is the fact that the Comfortfit isn’t machine washable, with Sleep Number suggesting spot washing with a damp towel when needed.
The Sleep Number Comfortfit pillow is an overall favorite on test because it gives good, firm support while also cradling your head in soft comfort. The outer material is also breathable so you don’t get hot at night.
- Read our in-depth review: Sleep Number Comfortfit
2. Tempur Cloud Original: best firm pillow
Excellent support for neck and spine without feeling too hard
Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Foam-solid | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: N/A | Warranty: 3 years
The Tempur Cloud is made up of a continual piece of foam, while there’s a separate cover that can be washed.
One tester has had difficulty in the past finding a pillow that helped her sleep after sustaining several severe neck injuries during a car crash. However, the Tempur Cloud offered the support she needed to sleep all night and wake without any neck pain. She did struggle for a few weeks getting used to a firmer pillow since, as a side sleeper, she tends to favor soft pillows. But once she got used to it, she stopped tossing and turning and would wake up with less neck pain.
In our tests, our back sleepers, who typically sleep better on firm pillows, said the Tempur Cloud gives excellent support to their neck and spine, and it has just enough give that it doesn’t feel like they’re sleeping on a rock.
- Read our in-depth review: Tempur Cloud
3. Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow: best value
Feels and supports like a down pillow
Available sizes: Standard, Queen and King | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Gel-filled fiber | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Warranty: N/A
The Beckham Hotel Gel Pillow feels like the fluffy, full down pillows you find in hotel rooms.
But the hypoallergenic filling keeps this pillow much cooler than traditional down pillows, and it comes in a two pack so it’s a great overall value. Our testers gave the Beckham pillows high scores for comfort and support, including a CPAP user who felt that his test pillow didn’t interfere with his machine or regular sleep patterns. Our stomach sleeper did have an issue with the Beckham pillow because of how fluffy it is, which made them feel like they were suffocating, so we definitely recommend this pillow for back or side sleepers. The biggest drawback we saw of the Beckham Hotel Gel Pillow is it doesn’t come with a warranty, but you do get a 30-day window to try it out and return it if you don’t like it.
- Read our in-depth review: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow
4. Casper Pillow: best at staying cool
Soft and supportive
Available sizes: Standard and King | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Microfiber | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: 100 nights | Warranty: 3 years
If you’re looking for a great alternative to a traditional down pillow, then the Casper Pillow is the answer, with our testers feeling it delivered the perfect balance of support and softness.
The Casper Pillow is filled with microfiber, so it’s a firm, fluffy pillow that is easier to clean. Our testers rated this pillow pretty high for comfort even though it is a relatively soft pillow, while it’s also pretty light. The microfiber design means that we found it stayed much cooler than traditional down pillows.
We did find that the Casper tends to go flat after a while. However, when it is washed it tends to bounce back to its original shape and full fluffiness as though it’s new out of the box. Our testers love the wash-and-reuse capabilities of this pillow. In fact, the Casper is one of the few pillows we tested that is completely machine washable.
- Read our in-depth review: Casper Pillow
5. Nest Bedding The Easy Breather: best luxury
Unique pocked design keeps it cool
Available sizes: Standard, Queen and King | Machine washable: No | Filling: Foam-shredded | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: 100 nights | Warranty: Lifetime warranty
The Easy Breather is filled with shredded memory foam that is packed tightly to give good support. Some testers initially felt it had actually been filled too much, causing the pillow to be too high and kink their neck. The good news is that if this is an issue, you can remove some of the filling to make it more comfortable. There’s also a handy 100-night trial period as well and don’t forget there’s a brilliant lifetime warranty.
This pillow isn’t machine washable and doesn’t include a cover that can be removed to be cleaned, so we recommend investing in a good pillowcase to keep The Easy Breather clean from oils and dirt. If it does get dirty, Nest Bedding suggests spot cleaning.
The Easy Breather features a unique pocked texture on the outside of the pillow that manages to keep things cool while you sleep. It’s also really comfy, if a little pricey.
- Read our in-depth review: Nest Bedding The Easy Breather
6. Bluestone Contour: best maternity pillow
Provides a perfect hug for the whole body
Available sizes: Full body | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Polyester fiber | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: N/A | Warranty: N/A
We asked two expectant mothers to try out the Bluestone Contour full body maternity pillow, and both, who had been using a different maternity pillow, reported this option from Bluestone offered the best support in all the right places.
One tester mentioned how the pillow juts out in the perfect way so there is perfect pressure on her lower back while side sleeping. The other tester said this pillow took pressure off her legs and belly. Both testers compared sleeping on the Contour full body maternity pillow to a perfect hug with so much comfort and support for the entire body. One tester, even after her baby was born, reported this pillow was helpful during breastfeeding and offered continued support during her recovery. The biggest complaint we heard is this pillow, even on king size beds, takes up a lot of room, so the expectant father doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. Also, the cover of the pillow is also made of a scratchy material that our testers and other users have reported isn’t comfortable on its own and makes an unpleasant sound when it moves. Bluestone does offer specially made pillow cases for its pillows to help with this issue.
- Read our in-depth review: Bluestone Contour
Things have got a bit more complex in recent years when looking for the best pillow. There’s been some serious investment in sleep technology, with new materials and designs appearing, while there are now a host of new companies jostling for your attention and all boasting that they make the best pillow.
With so many things to consider, let’s take a look at the key elements you need to think about to help you find the perfect pillow.
How often should you change your pillow?
If you’re still sleeping on a pillow you bought two years ago, now’s the time to think about getting a new pillow according to the experts. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing pillows every 18 months or so.
This is because the filling in the pillow can become flat and unsupportive, putting unwanted strain on your neck. It’s not just about comfort either, as the material in some pillows can retain body oils. That’s not to mention dust mites.
Keep it clean
If you want to avoid dust mites, you’ll want a specific anti-allergy pillow. This has seen both the filling and casing treated to resist and combat the development of dust mites. Other pillows can be labelled as hypoallergenic, which, while they’re not designed to stop the development of dust mites, does mean the material and filling isn’t made of a known potential allergen such as feathers, wool or latex.
If the thought of dust mites does make you uncomfortable, the good news is that they can be killed off if washed at 140-degrees Fahrenheit. Not all pillows can be washed (though some supplied pillow covers might be), so this is worth checking if this is important to you.
Types of pillow material
Other Standard best-picks
If you’ve bought a cheap pillow from a local department store, it’s probably made of synthetic polyester. While they’re worth looking at if you’re on a tight budget, they tend to flatten out and absorb heat easily. These didn’t make the grade for our search of the best pillows.
Next up you have feather and down pillows. A traditional and popular choice, these pillows tend to be very soft and luxurious, moulding to suit your neck. They do tend to clump and will need to be plumped regularly and they need to be professionally cleaned. If you suffer from allergies, these should be avoided.
Memory foam has become very popular in recent years, with this style of pillow contouring to your individual shape, while they’re also hypoallergenic. Memory foam pillows can be quite firm, so tend to be popular choices for those suffering with neck pain. They do retain heat, which can be an issue and they can be pretty heavy as well.
Then there’s microfiber. While some incredibly cheap pillows use a form of microfiber filling, this is a completely different proposition to the latest premium microfiber pillows. These aim to be soft and fluffy like down and feather pillows, but provide the support of memory foam. They’re also good at dissipating heat and don’t trap perspiration, though you do pay a premium for this luxury.
Many pillow companies offer decent trial periods, and this is something that can be really worthwhile as according to the ASA, it takes a minimum of two weeks for someone to become accustomed to their new pillow, and at least a month before a pillow is properly broken in.
Not as popular as other fillings is latex. These have a similar feel to memory foam pillows, but they stay cooler for longer, while they can hold their shape very well. Durable and naturally hypoallergenic, they can be pretty heavy and expensive.
Firm vs soft: Which pillow do I need?
How hard or soft your pillow should be really comes down to personal preference. Through our testing we’ve found that most side sleepers tend to prefer the thicker, softer pillows while back sleepers like pillows that are more firm but thinner. We suggest looking for a pillow that fills in the gap between the bed and your head, filling the space around your neck and shoulders to give you enough support and help keep your back aligned properly.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Comfort||Price||Customer Experience||Comfort Score||Firmness||Filling||Hypoallergenic||Standard||Queen||King||Machine Washable||Trial Period (days)||Warranty||Shipping Time|
|Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow (2-Pack) - Luxury Plush Gel Pillow - Dust Mite Resistant & Hypoallergenic - Queen||View Deal||4.5/5||5||5||2.5||100||5||Gel Fibers||✓||$42.99||$39.99||$48.99||Pillow||30 Days||4 - 5 Days|
|Sleep Number Comfortfit||4.5/5||5||4||2.5||100||6||Foam - Shredded||✓||$89.99||N/A||$109.99||No||30 Nights||5 Years|
|Bamboo by Snuggle-Pedic||View Deal||4/5||4.5||3||5||66||3||Foam - Shredded||✓||$119.00||$149.00||$197.00||Pillow||120 Nights||20 Years||3 - 5 Days|
|Bluestone Full Body Contour U Pillow - Great for Pregnancy - White||View Deal||4/5||5||3||1.5||95||5.6||Polyester Fiber||✓||$43.94||N/A||N/A||Cover|
|The Casper Pillow Standard||4/5||3.5||4||4.5||83||3||Down Alternative||✖||$75.00||N/A||$95.00||Pillow||100 Nights||3 Years|
|Nest Bedding - The Easy Breather Pillow - Superior Adjustable CertiPUR Memory Foam||View Deal||3.5/5||4||3.5||3.5||100||7.6||Foam - Shredded||✖||$99.00||$199.00||$149.00||No||100 Nights||Lifetime|
|Isotonic Indulgence||View Deal||3.5/5||3.5||5||3||66||1.6||Down Alternative||✖||$29.99||$29.99||$49.99||Cover||15 Years||3 - 6 Days|
|MyPillow||View Deal||3.5/5||3.5||4||4.5||66||1.3||Foam - Shredded||✖||$89.99||$89.99||$99.99||Pillow||60 Days||10 Years||10 -14 Days|
|The Leesa Pillow||View Deal||3.5/5||3.5||4||3||66||6.8||Foam - Solid||✖||$75.00||N/A||$95.00||Cover||100 Nights||3 - 9 Days|
|TEMPUR-Cloud||3/5||3.5||2.5||3||83||8.1||Foam - Solid||✖||$79.00||N/A||N/A||Cover||5 Year||5 - 7 Days|
|Purple Pillow||View Deal||3/5||3.5||2||4||70||6.8||Hyper-Elastic Polymer||✖||$99.00||N/A||N/A||Cover||100 Nights||1 Year|