Choosing the best pillow for your favorite sleeping position can make a big difference to how comfy you feel in bed and how refreshed you feel in the morning. A good bed pillow will comfortably cradle your head and neck, keeping your spine in neutral alignment. This means you won’t wake up with a sore or stiff neck. Even if you own the best mattress money can buy, don’t be tempted to skimp on pillow quality. Luckily, many of the top picks in this guide are affordable and adjustable (in terms of fill), making it cheaper and easier to find your perfect match.
All our top picks are based on in-house testing and extensive research, with a selection of reliable, comfy and supportive pillows for different sleeping positions and budgets. When choosing the best pillow for you, think about what position you fall asleep in and consider any specific health issues you may have, such as neck pain, snoring, or night sweats. If you do sleep hot, look for a breathable or cooling pillow that doesn’t pool with heat. We have some of those in our product guide too.
The best pillow for neck and shoulder pain is normally an orthopedic style. Stomach and back sleepers fare better with shallow pillows, while side sleepers need a higher loft pillow to plug the gap that forms between their head and shoulder when side sleeping. Snorers should also choose a high loft pillow as this will keep their head upright during sleep. If you are on a mission to clean up your sleep, pick a non-toxic organic pillow that uses certified, natural materials. Finally, to keep your pillow fresher for longer, choose one with a removable, machine washable cover, as opposed to one that can only be spot cleaned.
The best pillows in 2021
- 1. Coop Home Goods Original Adjustable Pillow
- 2. Purple Harmony Pillow
- 3. Utopia Bedding Gusseted Pillow Duo
- 4. Layla Kapok Pillow
- 5. EPABO Contoured Memory Foam Pillow
- 6. Brooklinen Down Pillow
- 7. Casper Original Sleep Pillow
- 8. Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
- 9. Avocado Green Pillow
- 10. Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow
- How to choose the best pillow
- How to pick the best pillow for side sleeping
- How to choose the best pillow for neck pain
- What are the different types of pillows?
- How often should you change your pillow?
The best pillows in 2021
The best-selling Coop Home Goods Original adjustable pillow is the answer for anyone who wants to create their ideal pillow without spending a premium. This medium-firm pillow is packed with cross-cut memory foam and microfiber that you can add or remove to achieve the perfect loft and density. (An extra half-pound bag of fill is included.) It also features a removable cover made from bamboo-derived viscose-rayon to help keep you cool at night.
For peace of mind, Coop Home Goods throws in a five-year warranty, plus a 100-night trial so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you. Those are very nice perks to include with a mid-priced pillow.
It’s rated 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 27,000 Amazon customers, while the score on Coop Home Goods’ site shows 4.6 out of 5 stars from 13,000 user reviews. The company recommends its Original adjustable pillow for side sleepers, but it’s received a lot of praise for being easy to adjust to support any sleep style.
Purple’s top-of-the-line Harmony Pillow may not fit the conventional description of the best luxury pillow, but we say it’s deserving of the distinction. Like the company’s well-reviewed Purple mattress, the Purple Harmony pillow features the company’s signature Purple Grid to provide tailored support for your head and neck. At the core of the pillow is Talalay latex, which is ventilated to enhance the airflow of the Purple Grid. All of that is enveloped by a moisture-wicking breeze mesh cover.
You can choose between a standard loft (6.5 inches) and a tall loft (7.5 inches). The standard loft is suited for back, stomach, and side sleepers with smaller frames. The tall loft is designed for average to large-framed side sleepers.
Purple shoppers rate the Harmony pillow 4.4 stars overall, with more than 5,000 of the 7,600 total reviews boasting 5 stars. Customers say it’s cooling and offers an equal amount of plushness and support. If that doesn’t sound luxurious, we don’t know what does.
The Utopia Bedding gusseted pillows prove you don’t have to sacrifice quality when buying pillows on a budget. For less than $30, you can bring home a pair of these well-rated pillows. These plush down alternative pillows are stuffed with 950 to 1,250 grams of poly fiber fill. They feature a poly-cotton outer fabric and a two-inch quilted gusset edge in your choice of six colors if you opt to skip the pillow covers.
The Utopia Bedding gusseted pillows come vacuum-sealed and take up to 72 hours to fully expand. Once they fully puff up, they’re a far cry from the flattened shape they arrive in.
These pillows are among Amazon’s best sellers with 4.5 out of 5 stars from 41,000 customers. Sleepers of all styles praise the support, comfort, and longevity they offer. Between the stellar reviews and affordable price tag, you might as well give these Utopia Bedding pillows a try.
Copper bedding purportedly wicks away body heat and stops the growth of bacteria on your skin, among other benefits. If you’re keen to try a copper-infused pillow to help keep you comfortable and fresh, look no further than Layla’s best-selling Kapok pillow.
The outer cover of the pillow features a polyester/viscose blend with copper fibers woven in for cooling and antimicrobial properties. The inner fill is a blend of reactive memory foam and lightweight Kapok fibers. It yields a high loft ideal for most side sleepers but you can remove and adjust the fill to your liking.
The Layla Kapok pillow comes with a five-year warranty, but that’s not all. Layla also includes a longer-than-average 120-night trial with a 100% money-back guarantee. However, with 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 2,000 reviews at Layla, you may not need to worry about making returns. Customers say the Layla Kapok pillow provides excellent neck support. Plus, its copper-woven outer cover is soft, cool and adept at keeping allergens away, and odors under control.
If you suffer from sleep-related neck pain, you could benefit from an orthopedic pillow. The EPABO contoured memory foam pillow is an Amazon best-seller among neck and cervical pillows.
Unlike traditional pillows, this contoured pillow features a dip in the center to cradle your head and keep your neck, shoulders, and back aligned no matter your position. It’s densely-packed with memory foam and includes a removable foam insert should the loft be too high. The pillow is ensconced in a hypoallergenic rayon and polyester case.
The standard pillow measures 21 inches with a 3.9-inch loft. You can also choose from two queen-size pillows with either a 4.6 or 4.8-inch height. The EPABO contoured memory foam pillow has 4.1 stars out of 5 from over 5,600 Amazon customer reviews. Happy sleepers say after a brief adjustment period, this pillow has helped improve their sleep quality and reduce neck pain. Best of all, it won’t put a massive dent in your wallet, like most orthopedic pillows.
The Brooklinen down pillow is branded as the company’s softest and fluffiest. However, don’t expect to rest your head on a saggy bag of clusters. Brooklinen constructed its best-selling down pillow to provide support and plush comfort.
Choose from two sizes (standard or king) and three firmness levels: plus, mid-plush, and firm. The plush pillow is completely filled with down clusters and ideal for stomach sleepers. Meanwhile, side sleepers can either opt for the mid-plush pillow with equal parts feathers and down, or the firm pillow with a higher ratio of feathers to down.
Brooklinen offers an impressive 365-day return window, with shipping fees included plus a full refund. And if that’s not enough, Brooklinen tacks on an additional one-year warranty beyond that.
This down pillow rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 1,800 Brooklinen customers. Many sleepers find it so comfortable that they boldly declare that it’s the only pillow they’ll ever need. Of course, with three levels of firmness, it’s easy for shoppers to find the right Brooklinen down pillow for their needs.
If you want to enjoy the plushness of a down pillow but without the allergies and animal-sourced fill, check out Casper’s most-popular Original Sleep down alternative pillow. It’s filled with “billions” of hypoallergenic microfibers that make it as soft as most authentic down pillows.
Much like its best-selling mattresses, Casper’s down alternative pillow is designed for people who shift positions in their sleep. Its soft outer layer and adaptive inner layer work together to keep you comfortable and supported with every movement. (By the way: both layers are machine-washable and dryable.)
Meanwhile, the pillow’s two-inch gusset simultaneously provides stable neck alignment and keeps the fill evenly distributed. Its 100% cotton outer cover has a breathable percale weave to help you sleep cool.
The Casper Original Sleep down alternative pillow is rated 4.5 stars out of 5 from over 4,000 Amazon reviews. (It also has a 4-out-of-5 star rating from 7,000-plus Casper customers.) Satisfied sleepers find it comfortable, and several reviewers credit the pillow for relieving their neck pain.
If its high price tag doesn’t cause you to break a sweat, the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Breeze dual cooling pillow could be a worthwhile investment for perpetually warm sleepers. Both sides of this cooling pillow feature a layer of Tempur-Breeze Gel, so you’re guaranteed soothing comfort no matter how you flip it. It wouldn’t be a Tempur-Pedic pillow without the brand’s renowned Tempur material, a memory foam that adapts to your shape and provides pressure relief.
Although it lacks a trial period, the Tempur-Cloud Breeze dual cooling pillow comes with a five-year warranty, which covers repairs or replacements. This pillow is rated 4.4 stars out of 5 from over 2,100 Tempur-Pedic customers. (It also has 4.3 stars out of 5 from 1,600 Amazon shoppers.) Positive reviews say the Tempur-Pedic pillow is worth its high cost due to the superior quality of materials and craftsmanship. Some sleepers noted that the pillow may not remain cool to the touch all night, but it still does an excellent job of wicking the heat away.
Avocado is known for its line of organic, sustainable mattresses – which come with an impressive 25-year warranty, by the way. However, like other mattress companies Avocado also makes pillows. Its best-seller is the flagship Avocado Green pillow.
Made in California, the Avocado Green pillow is crafted from certified-organic and vegan materials. It’s filled with latex shreds (upcycled from its mattresses) and Kapok fibers that can be adjusted to suit your preferences. The fill is housed in a cotton jersey liner, which is enveloped by a machine-washable quilted cotton cover.
The pillow comes in three sizes: standard, queen, and king. Every Avocado Green pillow includes a 100-night trial, 1-year warranty, and spare bag of organic fill. More than 4,000 Avocado customers have come together to rate the Avocado Green pillow 4.5 stars out of 5. Sleepers who suffer from allergies sing the Avocado pillow’s praises as a comfortable, sustainable solution to achieving a good night’s rest.
The best-selling pillow on Amazon right now is the Beckham Hotel Collection gel pillow. It boasts over 84,000 customer reviews, and over 60,000 of those testimonials rate it 5 stars. What’s so special about the Beckham Hotel Collection pillow? It features a gel fiber fill that feels as plush as genuine down. Plus, it’s dust mite, mold, and mildew-resistant so there’s no need to worry about waking up to a mad sneezing fit.
A minor caveat is that you can only buy this pillow in pairs, but you can always reserve the second pillow for a guest room or a replacement down the line if you only want one. Another drawback is the lack of a warranty, but a 30-day money-back guarantee applies.
Given the thick, sturdy build of the Beckham Hotel Collection gel pillow, it’s no surprise that many of its 5-star Amazon reviews come from side sleepers who find it supportive and comfortable. Satisfied shoppers also claim that this pillow holds its shape well, even with regular use.
How to choose the best pillow
There is no one single best pillow for every person as our bodies are different. But you can narrow down the list quickly by pinpointing your sleep style. Do you sleep on your stomach, back or side, or a combination of all three? Knowing this will help you choose a new pillow more easily. With that in mind, here are three key criteria to be aware of:
- Pillow loft refers to the height of a bed pillow. Side sleepers receive the most support from a high loft (because it better plugs the gap between your head and shoulders). Back and stomach sleepers are usually fine with a low loft.
- Firmness describes a pillow’s ‘give’ when weight (as in, your head) is placed on it. Soft pillows are usually best for stomach sleepers. Side sleepers often feel better supported by a firm pillow that keeps their neck and back in alignment. Back and combo sleepers do well with a medium-firm pillow.
- Fill dictates the loft and firmness, but there are health issues to consider here too. For instance, if you suffer from allergies, stay away from feather fills and choose a down alternative pillow instead.
How to pick the best pillow for side sleeping
Side sleeper pillows have a medium to high loft than back and stomach sleeper pillows. That’s because they need more material to plug the natural gap that forms between your head and shoulders when you sleep on your side. How far your sink into your mattress also determines how much loft you need from your pillow when sleeping on your side. Why? Because if you sink into your mattress, you may need a low-loft pillow even in a side sleeping position.
For people who switch between side sleeping and other positions (so combination sleepers), we’d advise choosing an adjustable pillow so that you can customize the loft to suit your body better. Customizing the loft means removing or adding as much ‘fill’ (the pillow’s inner material) as needed to best plug the gap between your head and shoulders. Generally speaking, the broader your shoulders, the more loft you need. An adjustable pillow will help you create the perfect loft.
How to choose the best pillow for neck pain
Neck and shoulder pain pillows are normally on the firmer side. They are designed to hold your head in a healthy position while relieving pressure on your neck, shoulders and spine. So what you don’t want is a super-firm pillow that creates new pressure points. Again, adjustable pillows come to the rescue here, as you can customize their fill to make them as close to perfect as possible for the support and comfort your neck needs.
The best pillow materials for neck pain includes memory foam, which offers a cradling, contouring feel. Buckwheat is another good choice because it naturally holds its shape well, so it won’t spread out too much inside the pillow during sleep. That means it will hold its shape well throughout the night to keep your neck properly supported.
What are the different types of pillows?
Sleep pillows aren’t that complicated really, and come in just a few different types. These include the following:
Memory foam pillows
This is probably the most popular type of pillow for sleeping as, just like the best memory foam mattresses, these pillows are designed to cradle you during sleep. Most of the best pillows for neck pain support are made using memory foam, but this material does retain heat more than other types. So if you’re a hot sleeper, choose a cooling memory foam pillow, or pick an organic pillow made with naturally cooling latex.
Look away now if you have allergies, as these are not the best pillows for you. For everyone craving a soft place to lay their head at night, you’re in for a real treat here as down pillows are super-comfy, plush and luxurious. They’re commonly made with the soft fibers found under the exterior of a duck, goose or swan, and are often mixed with feathers for extra fluffiness. They best suit stomach and back sleepers, as most aren’t firm enough for side snoozers.
Hands-down these are among the best cooling pillows you can buy. That’s because latex itself is naturally cooling, so heat won’t build up as much inside compared to some types of synthetic materials. Latex is an allergen for some people though, so they aren’t perfect. Plus, they’re expensive, so be prepared to pay a higher price. But if you want a non-toxic, organic pillow for healthier sleep, we’d start with latex.
How often should you change your pillow?
Every two years. Surprised? The National Sleep Foundation goes a step further, recommending that you replace your pillow every 18-24 months. We’re not judging if you’re sleeping on a pillow that’s much older than this, but there are good reasons why you should change your pillow every couple of years. The filling can become flat and unresponsive, so you won’t be supported during sleep. That can cause neck and back pain down the line.
Changes in your body weight also impact how well a pillow supports you, and every person’s pillow requirements change the older they get; we simply need more support and comfort as we age.
Older pillows can get pretty dirty too, even with regular washing. That’s because some materials act as a mecca for dust mites, sweat and odors. We’d recommend choosing a hypoallergenic pillow that can either be machine washed (the best option), or one that comes with a removable, antimicrobial cover that’s suitable for machine washing. You can learn more about this in our feature on how to wash a pillow. To keep the rest of your bed clean, learn how to clean a mattress (and how often).