A pillow elevates and cushions the head and neck to support proper spinal alignment while promoting a more comfortable night’s sleep. While the right pillow may help you rest easy, selecting the best pillow is no easy task.
Many different types of pillows are available, and each one may be ideal for different sleepers. The most common options include memory foam, polyfoam, down, down alternative, and latex, but you can also find less common varieties, like water pillows and buckwheat pillows.
Once you select your preferred type of pillow, you’ll have other criteria to take into consideration, including its materials, firmness, and loft, as well as your weight and preferred sleep position.
We’ll equip you with the information you need to find an excellent pillow for your needs and preferences. We’ll also review some of our favorite pillows on the market today.
Top Picks Overview
Our Top Picks of 2021
Layla PillowBest Overall
- Formulated with copper fibers and kapok fibers
- Airy but supportive
- Adjustable fill
Thanks to its soft, airy feel and adjustability, most sleepers should find the Layla Pillow exceptionally comfortable.
The fill consists of kapok tree fibers and CertiPUR-US certified shredded memory foam, giving the pillow a cloudlike but supportive feel that easily molds to the shape of the sleeper’s head and neck. A polyester and viscose blend makes up the cover. The cover uses CuTEC, a copper-infused yarn engineered to wick heat away for a cooler night’s sleep. Copper is also naturally antimicrobial, keeping the surface of the pillow cleaner.
Owners can access the fill of the pillow using a zipper in the cover. The Layla Pillow arrives overstuffed, and sleepers can open up their pillow to remove fill until it’s their preferred loft. The pillow starts off with a medium-soft feel and 4-inch loft, but removing some of the fill can reduce the thickness and make it feel softer.
This pillow comes in queen and king sizes and ships free in the contiguous United States. A 120-night money-back guarantee lets buyers return their pillow if they don’t love it, and a 5-year warranty protects the purchase.
Purple Harmony PillowBest Cooling
- Two height options
- Gentle support
- Exceptional shape retention
Purple is well-known for the proprietary hyper-elastic polymer Purple Grid in its mattresses. The Purple Harmony Pillow builds off the material’s popularity, using 360-degree Purple Grid Hex to add conforming, responsiveness, and breathability to the pillow.
This material is engineered for no-pressure support and next-level airflow. Hexagon-shaped grids bend to conform to the sleeper’s head and neck and spring back to their original shape when pressure is removed. The hexagons also act as air channels to dissipiate heat. This 360-degree Purple Grid Hex wraps around a Talalay latex core for additional support, durability, breathability, and springiness. Combined, these layers give the Purple Harmony Pillow a medium-soft feel that balances cushioning and support without the need for fluffing.
The pillow’s knit cover is made up of polyester, spandex, and nylon. This material wicks away moisture and allows ample cooling airflow. It also stretches with the pillow so that it doesn’t restrict the contouring.
Measuring 26 inches by 17 inches, the Purple Harmony Pillow is approximately standard size. Two height options are available. Purple recommends the standard 6.5-inch option for side sleepers with small frames, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers. The 7.5-inch option may be better suited for side sleepers with average frames or larger.
Coop Home Goods EdenBest Adjustable
- Highly adjustable
- Comes with extra fill
- Easy to clean
The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is easy to adjust and comes with extra fill to give sleepers more options.
A blend of cross-cut gel-infused memory foam and microfiber makes up the pillow’s fill. The memory foam is certified by CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold for safety and quality standards. This fill blend gives the pillow a soft, fluffy feel while allowing enough air circulation to cool the pillow. A polyester liner holds the fill in place, and a polyester and rayon blend cover wraps around the outside.
Unzipping the inner liner makes it possible to adjust the fill level. The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow starts out with a medium-soft feel and 6-inch loft, but owners can add or remove fill until they are satisfied. A half-pound bag of extra fill comes with the pillow to give sleepers more choices. This adjustability makes the Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow an excellent option for sleepers of all positions and body types.
Both the pillow and its cover are machine washable in cold water on the delicate cycle. Shipping is free within the contiguous United States, and a 100-night sleep trial is included. A 5-year warranty protects the Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow against qualifying defects.
Brooklinen Mid-Plush DownBest Down
- Plush down layer
- Supportive feather core
- Affordably priced for a down pillow
Made of Canadian white down and a feather core, the Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down has a plush but supportive dual-core construction.
An outer layer of down gives the pillow the luxuriously soft feel sleepers expect from down, while an inner layer of feathers enhances the amount of support. A cotton sateen shell with double-stitched edges prevents feathers from poking out while letting air circulate throughout the pillow to prevent excessive overheating.
When fully lofted, the Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down measures approximately 6 inches thick. It has a medium-soft feel, which tends to be the most popular pillow firmness. While this loft and firmness can accommodate sleepers with any position preferences, it is perhaps best suited for side and back sleepers. The high loft could put a stomach sleeper’s head at an uncomfortable angle.
The Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow comes in standard and king sizes. Brooklinen also produces similar pillows that are softer and firmer, though the construction varies to adjust the feel. A 365-day return policy gives customers a full year to return or exchange their pillow if it isn’t right for them.
Pacific Coast Double DownAroundBest Value
- Three firmness options
- Exceptional value
- Pillow-in-a-pillow design
While down and feather pillows often carry a hefty price tag, the Pacific Coast Double DownAround is a budget-friendly option with a premium feel.
It has a pillow-in-a-pillow design with an inner pillow of Hyperclean Resilia feathers for support and an outer layer of 550-fill power Hyperclean down for cloudlike softness. These feathers and down clusters are washed up to eight times to remove allergens and dirt. A 300-thread count cotton cover is breathable and soft-to-the-touch, and navy printed cording along the outer seam gives the pillow a distinctive look.
Three firmness options are available to suit different position preferences. The soft option has a 1-inch gusset and performs well for back and stomach sleepers, the medium option has a 1.5-inch gusset and can accommodate all sleep positions, and the firm option has a 2-inch gusset that makes it well suited to side and back sleeping.
The Pacific Coast Double DownAround Pillow is machine washable and dryable for easy cleaning. Standard, queen, and king sizes are available. Each pillow is backed by a 30-night comfort guarantee, an allergy-free limited warranty, and a 3-year limited warranty.
Luxe PillowBest Luxury
- Responsible Down Standard certified
- Certified hypoallergenic
- Multi-layer construction
The Luxe Pillow has a premium construction and hotel-like feel.
Three distinct layers make up the Luxe Pillow to balance conforming and support for all sleep positions. A layer of white goose down on either side of the pillow gives it a plush and luxurious feel, while a core made of small-game waterfowl feathers provides support. When fully lofted, the pillow measures approximately 5 to 7 inches thick.
A 300-thread count cotton shell with double-stitched piped edges stops the fill from escaping, and a 300-thread count cotton damask pillow protector helps shield it from damage. Owners can dry clean their pillow and its protector or wash them at home following the provided care instructions.
The down and feathers in Luxe Pillow go through an extensive cleaning process to remove dirt and potential allergens, earning the pillow its hypoallergenic certification. It also holds the Responsible Down Standard certification, meaning the feathers and down are sourced from animals that are raised in accordance with certain welfare standards.
This pillow comes in standard and king sizes, and it ships for free within the contiguous United States. Customers can try the Luxe Pillow at home during a 100-night sleep trial.
How to Find the Best Pillow for You
Picking the right pillow for you is important because the way your pillow feels has a direct impact on your overall comfort, along with either helping or hurting your spinal alignment in the long run. The type and size of the pillow come into play for most people when shopping for a new pillow, but there are a few additional factors to take into consideration.
What Types of Pillows Are Available?
There are multiple pillow types available, and the materials used can impact how supportive, breathable, and conforming the pillow is. Common pillow materials include memory foam, latex, down, down alternative, and polyfoam. A pillow may contain one or more of these materials, each of which directly impacts its performance. While we’ll detail some of the most popular types of pillows, this list is by no means exhaustive.
Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows may consist of shredded foam fibers or a single piece of memory foam. This material typically conforms exceptionally well, cradling the head and neck while supporting spinal alignment. Sleepers often feel memory foam pillows help with pain relief, but they may have off-gassing odors leftover from manufacturing.
Polyfoam: Polyfoam pillows typically use either one piece of polyfoam or shredded foam fill. These pillows usually retain less heat than memory foam while providing notable support and contouring. However, some polyfoam pillows may be less durable than alternative options.
Down: Down is the soft plumage of geese or ducks. Sleepers often consider down pillows luxurious because of their plush, malleable feel. However, this type of pillow often has a high price tag, and some down pillows could be problematic for allergy sufferers. They may also emit a natural odor. Shoppers concerned with animal welfare often prefer to avoid this material, though certifications like the Responsible Down Standard can indicate the down was sourced humanely.
Down Alternative: Down alternative pillows usually have the plush feel of down at a more budget-friendly price. These pillows also typically carry less risk of producing odors or triggering allergy symptoms. The main drawback is that down alternative usually isn’t as durable as down.
Latex: Pillows may include natural or synthetic latex. This material typically relieves pressure well and springs back to its original shape when the sleeper moves. It also allows heat to escape, maintaining a more neutral temperature. Eco-conscious shoppers often prize natural latex, which is derived from the sap of rubber trees. However, latex pillows may have a slight rubbery smell and could feel buoyant rather than cushiony.
You can also find water pillows, wool pillows, buckwheat pillows, feather pillows, and more.
Choosing a Pillow Size?
Not only does the pillow’s size affect how well it fits on your bed, but it can also affect how comfortable it feels as well as your available options. Pillow size boils down to a combination of different personal preferences, and there is no right or wrong option. We’ll take an in-depth look at the most common pillow sizes to help you decide.
Standard: 20” x 26”
This is the smallest common pillow size, but it is also the most popular. Standard size pillows are usually budget-friendly and fit easily on twin, full, queen, and king size mattresses.
Queen: 20” x 30”
Queen size pillows are a few inches longer than standard pillows, giving sleepers more room to roll over or change positions during the night. They should fit well on any of the standard mattress sizes, but there will be less empty space at the head end of the bed.
King: 20” x 36”
King size pillows are the longest standard bed pillow. People who toss and turn during the night and those who use their pillow to prop themselves up may appreciate this extra length. However, this pillow size is typically more expensive, and it doesn’t always fit well on twin size beds.
Many sleepers select a pillow size that corresponds to their mattress size to create a more put-together look. That being said, sleepers who like to scrunch up their pillow or who tend to roll over frequently may prefer a larger option, while those who like to rest on the edge of the pillow or who want more open space at the head of the bed may want to go with a smaller pillow.
What is Pillow Loft?
Loft refers to the height of a pillow, with pillows considered low-loft, medium-loft, or high-loft. Low-loft pillows typically measure under 3 inches thick, medium-loft pillows range from 3 to 5 inches thick, and high-loft pillows are 5 inches or more. Many sleepers prefer a pillow in the medium range, but this preference can be influenced by your sleeping position.
Matching Pillows to Your Sleeping Position?
Sleeping position is often the main determining factor of whether or not a pillow feels comfortable to an individual. The two important characteristics of a pillow that are related to how you prefer to sleep are a pillow’s loft and its firmness. While pillows vary in firmness, many manufacturers recognize that sleepers often prefer a pillow that feels soft while supporting the head and neck, so they aim to balance these traits.
Side sleepers often need a medium- to high-loft pillow to fill the gap between the mattress and the head and neck to keep their spines straight. Since side sleepers typically need the most support for their heads and necks, they often prefer firmer pillows.
Back sleepers usually prefer a medium-loft pillow to support the natural curvature of their necks without forcing their heads too far toward their chests. Back sleepers frequently like medium pillows for their balance of plushness and support.
Stomach sleepers may sleep on a low-loft pillow or use no pillow at all, a pillow that’s too thick could push their heads back at an awkward angle and strain their necks. Following that, stomach sleepers typically need softer pillows to help limit neck strain.
Other Factors to Consider?
While the type of pillow and its size can impact the sleep experience, they aren’t the only factors you’ll want to consider when choosing a new pillow.
If you tend to sleep hot, you may want to choose a pillow with cooling properties so that you don’t have to hunt for a cool spot during the night. Some pillows contain gel or copper infusions to help draw heat away from the sleeper. Pillows with a breathable design can also circulate air so that heat dissipates rather than staying trapped in the pillow.
Pillows can range widely in price depending on construction, type, and materials, from as low as $20 to a few hundred. While price is often a critical factor in shopping decisions, shoppers shouldn’t use it as the main criteria in selecting a pillow. Strong pillow options are available at price-points ranging from budget to luxury.
Higher-priced options are frequently more durable, so paying more upfront could save you money in the long run. Looking for a pillow built with quality materials that has a history of positive reviews will help you find a good match for your money.
Adjustable pillows are built in a way that allows you to add or remove fill from the pillow’s core. By stuffing or emptying the pillow, you can change the pillow’s loft and firmness to meet your personal needs. Some pillows use pre-made inserts, while others provide bags of additional fill to use for adjustments. Adjustable pillows are a great option for people who aren’t sure what they need or want from a pillow, or those who like to mix it up over time.
Caring for Your Pillow
Proper care and maintenance of your pillow can go a long way toward extending its usable lifespan. Every pillow is different and may require different care depending on how it’s constructed. Pillows of the same type generally follow the same standards of care, with some being machine-washable while others are dry clean only. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before trying to wash or care for your pillow.