When you have the best pillows for sleeping nestled under your head, drifting off becomes easier and more enjoyable. Not all bed pillows are made equal though, and some are way better than others in terms of support, comfort and sheer snuggliness. On a basic level, a pillow is where you lay during sleep, right? But a good pillow keeps your neck in alignment, so you experience less neck pain upon waking. The trouble is, there are hundreds of pillows for sleeping, so how do you sort the best from the rest?
As with the best mattress online, the simple truth is that there’s no ultimate pillow for everybody. Instead, we’ve divided the best pillows for sleeping into different areas, such as pillows for side sleepers, for hot sleepers, and those for people who need maximum cushioning. It pays to recognize your dominant sleep position (side sleeper, stomach sleeper, etc), as knowing this can help you narrow down the right pillow very quickly.
Do you roll between different sleep positions? The doctor-approved Nature’s Guest Pillow featured below is your best option, as it’s designed to cradle your head as you roll from your side to your back. If you’re unsure whether your current pillow for sleeping is supportive, if your neck tilts when you’re lying on it, you’re out of alignment so pick another. Good spinal alignment during sleep is vital, and something we discuss further in our guide to good bed toppers.
Hot sleepers would be better off with a proper cooling pillow. These use similar tech to the best cooling mattresses to stop you from overheating. Finally, experts recommend changing your bed pillow every two years, with the American Sleep Association (ASA) explaining that the support you need changes the older you get, or if you gain or lose weight. Nasties build-up in pillows over time too, so if yours is over two years old, it’s time for a change.
The best pillows for sleeping to buy now
1. The Purple Harmony Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping overall
When Purple released its first mattress, which often features in the best Purple mattress deals, it became known as ‘the bed that broke the internet’. Well, Purple also makes pillows, and the Purple Harmony Pillow (RRP $159) is their best yet. It shares similar 360-degree Purple Grid technology as the mattresses but here it’s called Purple Grid Hex. This involved testing over 50 prototype material combinations to create a pillows that offers a magic balance of softness, coolness and responsiveness.
No Pressure Support helps the bed pillow adapt quickly to your head and neck for more personalized support as soon as you lay down. The best part is how the pillow keeps its shape over the course of a night, so you won’t wake up and feel as though you’ve been sleeping on a pancake.
Pillows that get hot in the night are a real pain and can cause many of us to wake up to flip the pillow, desperately searching for a soothing cool spot to help us drift off to sleep again. There’ll be no such nonsense here, as the Purple Harmony Pillow uses the brand’s Cool to the Core airflow design to keep the temperature down. The cover is also moisture-wicking, adding to the breathability factor.
You can buy Purple’s premium pillow in a 6.5-inch height, which they suggest for back sleepers, or a 7.5-inch height if you’re a side sleeper. You’ll get a one-year limited warranty, plus a 100-night No Pressure guarantee so that you can triple-check that you and your new pillow are meant to be.
- Read our Purple Harmony Pillow review
2. Tempur-Cloud: Best pillow for sleeping with neck pain
Some back and neck stiffness can be minimized through a combination of choosing a better sleeping position and one of the best pillows for neck pain. While it’s true that some causes of neck pain, such as general wear and tear that comes with older age, can’t be solved so easily, there are definitely things you can in-bed (and during the day – hello, yoga) to minimize it. You could even try using one of the best sound machines to play soothing sleep sounds to help distract your mind.
According to Spine Health, matching your pillow height to your sleeping position is a must, and if you’re a stomach or back sleeper who is experiencing neck pain, the Tempur-Cloud Pillow is worth looking at. This pressure-relief bed pillow is made by Tempur-Pedic, a leader in pillows and mattresses created to provide postural relief.
The Tempur-Cloud is made up of a continual piece of foam, with a removable polyester knit cover that can be washed. A word of warning: firmer pillows like this one do take some getting used to, so it may be a couple of weeks or longer before you’re used to it, especially if you have a history of sleeping with softer pillows.
However, for better neck support it’s worth persevering here, as it could provide you with the relief you need, and to help you stop tossing and turning, searching for a comfier neck cradle.
Back sleepers who normally sleep well on firm pillows will adore the Tempur-Cloud, and how it consistently delivers brilliant spine and neck support but without feeling like you’re sleeping on a slab of rock.
- Read our Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud review
3. Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow: Best pillow for adjustable height
We love the idea behind the extremely cosy Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow (The Original), which allows you to fill it up with squishy memory foam and microfiber pieces until you get the perfect height and firmness for you.
The Coop Home Goods pillow for sleeping comes with a zipped inner liner that you fill to keep things neat inside the breathable bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester cover. This cover is also removable and machine washable.
As an added bonus, the Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow comes with an extra half pound of free fill, if you need to ‘oomph’ it up further to get the best pillow loft for your posture.
Hypo-allergenic and cruelty-free too, there’s plenty to admire about this best-selling luxury bed pillow. It will fall flat over time though, so keep hold of any leftover stuffing to plump it back up as and when needed.
4. Blu Sleep Products Ice Gel Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping in hot weather
Blu Sleep claims that its Ice Gel Pillow (Unscented) is 3,000 times more cooling than conventional memory foam, and while it’s hard to verify that fact, we do know that this pillow is a great choice if you sleep hot and need something extremely airy to rest your head on.
Blu Sleep has plenty of pillows for sleeping in its range, including scented ones, but this soothing Ice Gel foam pillow skips on the scent and keeps things breathable with perforations that burrow straight through the pillow for plenty of cooling comfort. It’s also worth mentioning that the foam in this pillow is water expanded rather than chemically expanded to keep things more natural.
Blu Sleep’s best pillow for sleeping cool comes with plenty of rave user reviews, with thousands of happy sleepers commenting on the supreme cosiness and support that this top-quality Italian-made pillow offers.
5. Saatva Latex Pillow: Best pillow for allergies
The Saatva Latex Pillow is a dream to sleep on in every sense of the word. Not only does it provide fully supportive luxury comfort, but it’s made from completely natural organic materials too. And while this also comes with quite the price tag, existing users swear that this is money well spent, especially if you are after responsive support for your head and neck, and you also sleep hot, regardless of the weather.
Recommended by chiropractors for enhanced neck support and comfort, the Saatva Latex Pillow will probably see you going to bed early just to experience its lofty plush fill and cooling organic cotton cover.
Meanwhile, the hypoallergenic talalay latex core offers all the support you need to keep your head and neck beautifully supported as you sleep, whatever your position. And with a removable washable cover, it’s practical and hygienic. One of the best pillows for sleeping overall, and not just if you want a pillow that isn’t going to trigger your allergies.
6. Casper Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping in any position
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 noticeable support and softness.
The Casper Pillow is filled with microfiber, so it’s a firm, fluffy bed pillow that’s easy to clean too. We rate this sleep pillow pretty high for comfort, even though it’s relatively soft and light. We certainly didn’t feel it moving around much, and because it’s made of microfiber it stayed much cooler than other pillows in this guide. No flipping to find a cool spot, either.
There is one niggle with the Casper Pillow, though: it tends to go flat after a while. Ok so it’s not a huge deal, and most pillows suffer from this, but for the price we’d have liked it to hold its shape longer. That said, we popped it in the washing machine and fluffed it before drying, and were pleased to discover the pillow had bounced back to its original shape. Did you catch that this bed pillow is completely machine washable? Yeah, we love that too.
If you're looking for a new mattress and like the Casper brand, we'd also recommend taking a look at our guide to the best Casper mattress deals.
- Read our Casper Pillow Original review
7. The Emma Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping on your side
The Emma Pillow is a versatile, do-it-all customizable memory foam pillow that would suit back and side sleepers who often struggle to get comfy in bed, or who tend to sleep hot.
Constructed in three layers, The Emma Pillow for sleeping has ample support at its core with a cold foam layer offering all the hold you need, whether you’re after something squishy or firmer.
You can then choose your surface layer: plump for the ‘Airgocell’ side with its polyurethane layer that offers plenty of breathability, or you might prefer to flip the bed pillow to the memory foam layer, which fits to the shape of your head and holds you firmly in place as you sleep.
The best thing about this bed pillow however, is that each of the layers can be removed for you to find the perfect height that suits your sleep style. That’s why it’s ideal for both back and side sleepers, as you can remove layers to sleep on your back.
Or, leave all three in to plug that gap between head and shoulder when snoozing on your side. Further versatility from The Emma Pillow for sleeping comes with its removable, washable and breathable cover for a sound night’s sleep.
8. Layla Kapok: Best pillow for keeping odors at bay
As well as pure comfort, Layla’s Kapok Memory Foam Pillow is big on sleep innovation, and feels as cool as it looks. That’s because the natural kapok fibre provides a super-light and airy fill, while the memory foam adds just the right amount of support. Cooling copper-infused yarn used on the cover is heavenly for hot sleepers, plus it helps keep odors away.
Like other models in our guide to the best pillows for sleeping, the Layla Kapok Memory Foam Pillow can be tailored to any height, and it comes a little overstuffed in order for you to remove what you need to suit your sleep position. We’d recommend keeping in more filling if you sleep on your side, and taking out a lot more filling if you’re a stomach sleeper.
With a super-snuggly and responsive feel, the Kapok Memory Foam is arguably Layla’s best pillow for sleeping in various positions and to help you stay cool. Even better, it comes on a risk-free 120-night trial. You have little to lose and better sleep to gain.
9. Sleep Number ComfortFit Bed Pillow: Superb neck and head support
Sleep Number is a big player in the world of pillows, mattresses and bedding, so it knows a thing or two about how to design the best pillow, which it has done with the versatile ComfortFit Pillow. This sumptuous offering has a walloping 13,000+ user reviews, averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Sleep Number site, and proved to be a winner for us during testing too.
The Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow comes in three different shapes: Classic, tailor-made for stomach and back sleepers, and the one we’ve featured here, Curved. This is neatly contoured to provide better support for side sleepers and back sleepers. Last up is Ultimate, which you can customize to suit your favorite sleeping position.
The filling is a clever mix of memory foam pieces and premium down-alternative fibers to create a pillow that’s comfortable and able to hold its shape well. The filling is also hypoallergenic, so a good choice for allergy sufferers.
We’ve been using the ComfortFit Classic for three months and it still holds its shape. What’s it like to sleep on? Pretty heavenly, really. Imagine your head sinking into a softly cushioned cloud, yet still supported enough to not cause any weird spinal alignment or neck or shoulder pain.
The Classic comes in two sizes: standard and king size. The only thing we don’t like about it is the fact that you can’t wash the pillow. Yes you can wash the Lyocell blend cover, but the pillow itself should only be spot-cleaned with a damp cloth as needed. Speaking of that Lyocell cover, it’s wonderfully breathable, so worth a look if you sleep hot and are always turning your pillow over to find a new cool spot.
10. Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow: Best affordable pillow for sleeping
The Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow feels just like the fluffy, full down pillows you often find in plush hotel rooms. But the hypoallergenic filling means it’s suitable for allergy sufferers, and it’s much cooler than traditional down pillows too. That’s good news for those of you who are considered hot sleepers.
We love how snuggly this bed pillow is, and the fact that you can get two of them for such a reasonable price only increases their attractiveness. But hey, can you actually sleep well using this pillow? Well, it depends on your sleep style and if you’re looking for any back or neck support, and if you have any existing sleep health issues.
The reason we mention that is because one of our testers uses a CPAP machine to help with his sleep apnea. He found this pillow to be comfortable and supportive for his back sleeper style, and crucially it didn’t interfere with the CPAP machine.
Our stomach sleeper wasn’t so fond of the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow because of just how dense and fluffy it is, which made them feel like they were suffocating a bit. While there’s no warranty on this bed pillow, you do get a 30-day window to try it out and return it if you don’t like it.
- Read our Beckham Collection Gel Pillow review
11. Tuft and Needle Down Alternative: Best for light support
Tuft and Needle know a thing or two when it comes to delivering snug comfort at bedtime, and with its Down Alternative Pillow doesn’t disappoint. Created for people who are sensitive to down or just want a lighter option, this two-pack of soft and fluffy pillows for sleeping are good value for money.
Its gentle support won’t be suitable for everybody, but if you’re a back or stomach sleeper and need a little extra cosiness without feeling as though your neck is being pushed forward, or that you’re being swallowed alive, then the Tuft and Needle Down Alternative Pillow is the best pillow for sleeping for you.
Made from easy-care 100% polyester, there are no nasties to contend with here either, and the Tuft and Needle Down Alternative Pillow is hypoallergenic and can be machine washed too. It also comes with a risk-free 100-night trial if you want to try it out first, which we would recommend as it the feel and firmness level won’t please everyone. They’d make great guest room pillows.
12. Nature’s Guest Cervical Pillow: Best pillow for neck pain and headaches
If you’re looking for the best pillow for neck pain and headache relief, and you switch between sleeping on your back and side, this is one of the world stop-rated designs. It’s also recommended by chiropractors and orthopedic doctors. It’s made our guide to the top-rated pillows for sleeping because it has a built-in neck roll cushion, designed to provide cervical support as you snooze on your back.
While some users say that the pillow needs to be fluffed often to keep its shape and stop it from going flat, it is recommended by many who experience morning headaches and neck pain upon waking. Because of the integrated neck roll cushion, and a gusseted edge design, this a good pillow for people who roll around from side to back sleeping, as it keeps your neck fully supported in both sleep positions. Doctors don’t recommend it if you only sleep on your side.
The entire pillow is covered in hypoallergenic, soft cotton fabric, and is filled with breathable microfiber for increased airflow to keep you cool during sleep. You can tailor the amount of microfiber in the pillow too, getting a more precise amount of your support.
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Best pillows FAQ
Can a good pillow really make that big a difference to your sleep?
Finding the right pillow for sleeping is just as important as finding the best mattress if you want to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Choosing the wrong pillow can lead to neck, shoulder and back pain, as well as headaches. All things that will disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling terrible in the morning. We talk about this more in our feature discussing why is sleep important for humans.
The first thing to think about is alignment. The right pillow for you should keep your head, neck and spine in a neutral line no matter what your sleep position. If you tend to swap positions as you sleep, then a pillow made with an adaptable material such as foam will support your head as you toss and turn.
To keep this neutral alignment, pillow height is also crucial. Some bed pillows will be loftier or flatter than others so be aware that it isn’t throwing your spine out of line. Many pillows for sleeping are adjustable too, and you can remove or add layers or filling to suit your particular needs.
Once you’ve found the right firmness and height, other extras to think about include breathability and cooling features, which all contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Finally, if you tend to react to dust mites, chemicals and allergens, then look out for a hypoallergenic pillow that’s also toxin-free. And to keep things extra more fresh, it’s worth finding a bed pillow that is machine washable or has a removable washable cover.
Are cheap pillows for sleeping supportive enough?
A good bed pillow is more important than you think. The average person spends around a third of their life sleeping, so if you don’t have the right pillow for your sleep style and posture needs, you could end up straining your neck by keeping it flexed in the night. Over time, that will lead to neck pain.
Researchers have proven that a supportive pillow for sleeping, when combined with regular exercise, actually eases chronic neck pain. But that doesn’t apply to every pillow - the type, shape and filling have a big impact on how well the bed pillow supports your neck and head. Feather fill pillows are generally considered to be the least supportive, while latex, memory foam and polyester-fill pillows for sleeping are rated the best.
So, can you get all of this slumber magic from a cheap pillow? Yes and no. There are some very good cheap pillows for sleeping out there, including one of our top picks, the Nature’s Guest Cervical Pillow, but there is a difference between affordable for the materials and features involved, and cheap quality. A good cheap pillow will still support your neck and head during sleep, have a washable cover (or be machine washable itself), and be hypoallergenic.
A bad cheap pillow will lose its shape quickly, offer no targeted support for your neck and shoulders, and will tilt your neck forward so that it’s continuously flexing throughout the night. That’s a recipe for neck pain.
What is pillow loft, and how do you determine it?
‘Pillow loft’ is a term you may have come across in your pursuit for a new pillow for sleeping. The term refers to the height of the bed pillow when it’s positioned flat, with nothing resting on top of it.
Generally speaking, sleep pillows are split into three different ‘lofts’ or heights. This includes low, medium and high. A low loft pillow is three inches or less in height, while a medium loft pillow is around three to five inches in height. Anything higher than five inches tall is considered a high loft pillow.
When it comes to determining the ideal pillow loft for you, and to avoid placing any strain or tension on your neck and shoulders, consider the following:
Your sleep position
Do you sleep on your stomach? If so, a low loft pillow is best suited to you. While those who sleep on their backs prefer low or medium loft pillows. Side sleepers might benefit better from a high loft pillow to help align their neck and shoulders, and to plug that big gap between their head and shoulders when they’re snoozing on their side.
Softer mattresses don’t require much pillow loft because your body will sink naturally into the mattress. As such, a low or medium loft pillow for sleeping should provide all the support you need. Firmer mattresses (so something you don’t sink into) need a high loft pillow to ensure your neck and head are perfectly supported from the moment you lie down.
Your body weight
Generally speaking, the more you weigh, the higher loft pillow you might need. That’s because your body weight will determine how far you sink into your mattress. Those weighing on the lighter scale usually prefer lower lofts.
The best way to discover your ideal pillow loft is to try a few at different heights - many of the best pillows for sleeping featured above, such as the Emma and Casper, are available on a trial basis.
What are the different types of sleep pillows?
There’s more to pillows than just their loft height. Here are the different types of sleep pillows available to buy right now to help you have a dreamy night’s sleep.
Memory foam pillows
This type of pillow can be suitable for all different sleepers. Why? Because memory foam pillows molds to the contours of your body. Memory foam pillows therefore offer brilliant support to your head and neck. However, many memory foam pillows tend to retain heat so work better for the colder months.
If soft, cushiony and moldable pillows are your thing, down pillows might help you catch a good night’s sleep. Made from the soft fibers found under the exterior of a duck, goose or swan, these pillows are sometimes mixed with feathers for extra fluffiness. Down pillows are ideal for stomach, side and back sleepers because they offer brilliant head and neck support.
Latex pillows are one of the most cooling pillow materials to buy. So if you’re looking for a breathable and cooling fabric, this type of pillow could be your best bet.
Latex pillows offer a high level of support while coming with durable and moldable qualities. However, it’s important to note that latex pillows are quite expensive, so make sure you aren’t allergic to the fabric before you buy.
How hard or soft your pillow should be comes down to personal preference, whether you’re experiencing any back or neck pain issues, and how you prefer to sleep: on your stomach, back, side or a mixture. Through our testing we’ve found that most side sleepers tend to prefer thicker, softer pillows with a high loft to fill the gap between their neck and shoulders, while back sleepers like pillows that are more firm but thinner.
When narrowing down the best pillow for you, we recommend choosing one that properly fills the gap between the bed and your head so that you don’t have to keep moving it around throughout the night. As mentioned above, it should also fill the space around your neck and shoulders to give you enough support to help keep your back aligned.
How often should you change your pillow?
If you’re still sleeping on a pillow you bought two years ago, now is the time to think about buying the best pillow for your current postural needs and sleep style. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing bed pillows every 18 months or so.
This is because the filling in your pillow can become flat and unsupportive, putting unwanted strain on your neck – yes, more neck pain. It’s not just about comfort either, as the material in some pillows can retain body oils and dust mites, making them pretty unhygienic after a while.
How to clean pillows for more hygienic sleep
If you want to avoid dust mites, buy an anti-allergy pillow. These have 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 makes you uncomfortable, the good news is that they can be killed off if you wash your pillow at 140-degrees Fahrenheit. Not all pillows can be washed (though some supplied pillow covers might be), so this is worth checking before you buy.
What are the best pillows for sleeping made from?
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 very tight budget, they tend to flatten out quickly and absorb heat easily, making them an absolute annoyance for hot sleepers.
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.
You can get even more restful slumber by relaxing your mind before bedtime, so try one of the best meditation apps or sound machines to produce soothing sounds. For a more natural way to wake up, consider one of the best sunrise alarm clocks.