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Best pillows for sleeping 2021: Bed pillows for all sleep positions

Best pillows for sleeping 2021: Bed pillows for all sleep positions
(Image credit: Getty)

The best pillows for sleeping are an important part of your bed setup, and while it can feel a little confusing trying to find the right bed pillow for you, there are ways to quickly narrow down your search. On a basic level, a good sleep pillow will cradle your neck and head, ensuring you are supported from the moment you lie down. High quality pillows for sleeping won’t lose their shape or fall flat on you that easily either, but it’s on you to ensure you pick the best one for the way you fall asleep. Yes, we’re talking about your go-to sleep position. 

This is actually a quick way to pinpoint the best pillows for sleeping in the position you find most comfy, whether that’s falling asleep on your stomach, your back or your side. That’s because a bed pillow for side sleepers will be too firm and deep for someone who snoozes on their stomach. Actually, there’s an easy way to tell if your current sleep pillow (or the one you’re eyeing) is right for you, and that’s to simply lie down on it. If your head and neck tilt in any direction while you’re lying on the pillow, you are out of alignment (ouch!) so choose another pillow. Good spinal alignment and support is something we discuss further in our best mattress online guide.

Your body weight and health are big factors too, especially as you age. The American Sleep Association (ASA), for example, says that our pillow needs change the older we get. They also change if we gain or lose weight. So your best pillow for sleeping a year ago might not be up to the job now if your body weight has changed or if you have developed a new health condition. If you are dealing with neck pain or muscle tension, ask your doctor what treatment is needed, including whether you would benefit from using one of the best handheld massagers before bed as part of your wind-down routine.

The best pillows for sleeping are also designed with breathable materials to encourage good airflow. Like the best cooling mattresses, these pillows are perfect for hot sleepers. If you do overheat quickly in bed, a good bed topper infused with cooling gel could be the answer to your prayers. Saatva makes a superb one, and it’s often on sale as part of the best Saatva mattress discounts. But for now, let's take a look at the best pillows for sleeping.

The best pillows for sleeping to buy now

1. The Purple Harmony Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping overall

Best pillows for sleeping: The Purple Harmony pillow

(Image credit: Purple)

The Purple Harmony Pillow

The best pillow for staying cool and comfortable throughout the night

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard (6.5"), Tall (7.5") | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Talalay Latex Core | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 100 nights

Reasons to Buy

Your choice of height
Stays cool all-night long
Adapts its shape to your head

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive

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. 


2. Tempur-Cloud: Best pillow for sleeping with neck pain

Best pillows for sleeping: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Pillow for neck support and minimizing neck pain

(Image credit: Tempur-Pedic)

Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Original Bed Pillow

Get quick relief with this pillow for neck support and back comfort

SPECIFICATIONS

Available size: One | Price: $79 | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Foam-solid | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: 30 nights

Reasons to Buy

Firm back and neck support
Three-year warranty

Reasons to Avoid

No returns accepted
Takes time to get used to

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, or download one of the best meditation apps to learn how to relax before sleep.

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.


3. Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft: Best pillow for custom loft

Best pillows for sleeping: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow

(Image credit: Coop Home Goods)

Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow

Get your fill of a great night’s sleep with a pillow tailored to your comfort

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Queen, King | Price: $59.99 | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Memory foam, microfiber | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 100 nights

Reasons to Buy

Easy to get the right height
Removable cover for washing
Half-pound bag of stuffing included

Reasons to Avoid

Needs re-stuffing over time

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. Saatva Latex Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping if you have allergies

Best pillows for sleeping: Saatva Latex Pillow

(Image credit: Saatva)

Saatva Latex Pillow

A supportive bed pillow that provides comfort for days

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Queen, King | Price: From $145 | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Talalay latex/microdenier fiber | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 45 nights

Reasons to Buy

Suits all sleep positions
Hypoallergenic
45-night free trial

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive

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.


5. Blu Sleep Products Ice Gel Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping in hot weather

Best pillows for sleeping: Blu Sleep Products Ice Gel Pillow (Unscented)

(Image credit: Blu Sleep Products )

Blu Sleep Products Ice Gel Pillow (Unscented)

A comfy bed pillow that could help you sleep better in summer

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard, Queen Low, Queen Mid, Queen High, King | Price: $149 | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Gel foam | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 30 nights

Reasons to Buy

Ultra-cooling during sleep
Large array of sizes
Washable pillow cover

Reasons to Avoid

Another pricey pillow

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. 


6. Casper Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping in any position

Best pillows for sleeping: Casper Pillow

(Image credit: Casper)

Casper Pillow

A brilliant, back to basics pillow for sleeping

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard and King | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Microfiber | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: 100 nights

Reasons to Buy

Stays cool during the night
Fully machine washable
100-night return policy

Reasons to Avoid

Falls flat after a while

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.


7. The Emma Pillow: Best pillow for sleeping on your side

Best pillows for sleeping: The Emma Pillow

(Image credit: Emma)

The Emma Pillow

Drift away on the best pillow for side sleepers

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: 28 x 16 inches | Price: $99.99 | Machine washable: Cover only | Filling: Foam | Hypoallergenic: No | Trial period: 100 nights

Reasons to Buy

Three removable layers
Great for side and back sleepers
Removable cover for washing

Reasons to Avoid

Quite firm to begin with

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 sleeping on natural materials

Best pillows for sleeping: Layla Kapok Memory Foam Pillow

(Image credit: Layla Sleep)

Layla Kapok Memory Foam Copper Infused Pillow

A cosy bed pillow to help you sleep well, naturally

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Queen, King | Price: $99 | Machine washable: Recommended spot clean | Filling: Kapok and memory foam | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 120 nights

Reasons to Buy

Stays cool during sleep
Supportive
Customizable fill

Reasons to Avoid

Not machine washable

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

Best pillows for sleeping: Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow

(Image credit: Sleep Number)

Sleep Number ComfortFit Bed Pillow For Sleeping

It's good for providing ample neck support, too

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard, king | Price: From $89.99 | Machine washable: Cover, yes. Pillow, no. | Filling: Memory foam pieces, down alternative | Hypoallergenic: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Hypoallergenic 
Available in three different versions
Includes a one-year warranty

Reasons to Avoid

Pillow not machine washable

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 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 pillow for sheer value

Best pillows for sleeping: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow for back sleepers offer good posture support

(Image credit: Beckham Hotel)

Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow For Sleeping

Feels and supports like a down pillow, but costs way less

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard, Queen and King | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Gel-filled fiber | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 30 days

Reasons to Buy

Hypoallergenic
Good for back sleepers
Great value for a duo set

Reasons to Avoid

Not for stomach sleepers

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.


11. Tuft and Needle Down Alternative: Best pillow for light support

Best pillows for sleeping: Tuft and Needle Down Alternative Pillow

(Image credit: Tuft and Needle)

Tuft and Needle Down Alternative Pillow (Set of 2)

A gentler way to a sound night’s sleep

SPECIFICATIONS

Available sizes: Standard, King | Price: From $80 | Machine washable: Yes | Filling: Polyester | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Trial period: 100 nights

Reasons to Buy

Easy to wash
Hypoallergenic
Set of two

Reasons to Avoid

Medium-light support only

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.


Today's cheapest prices on the best pillows for sleeping

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.

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 your pillow

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. 

Best pillows: top bed pillows

(Image credit: ShutterStock)

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 of?

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.

Which type of pillow do I need for good sleep?

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.

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.