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Last updated on Nov 15, 2019

The Best Pillows

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How We Found the Best Pillows

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2 sleep experts interviewed

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15 pillows tested

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4 top picks

The Best Pillows

Because no two body types and sleep positions are the same, the perfect pillow is a little different for everyone. However, experts agree that you need a pillow that maintains neutral neck-to-shoulder alignment. To find the best, we slept on 15 pillows over two weeks and found the favorites for different levels of support.

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How We Chose the Best Pillows

Reputation

To find the most crowd-pleasing pillows, we pulled best-sellers from retail sites like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond, top recommendations on sleep sites and blogs, and any best-sellers from big name brands like Simmons Beautyrest and Tempur-Pedic, as well as a few new disruptors from My Pillow, Purple, and Casper.

We made sure we were testing a variety of materials, sizes, and prices too — we wanted options that would work for all comfort levels. Once we had our list, we sent our pillows home with 25 testers over the course of two weeks to evaluate each pillow on metrics that guarantee a good rest.

Support

Nobody likes waking up with a sore neck. Adequate neck and spine alignment are key to a good night’s sleep, so our testers looked for pillows that supported them in the sleep position(s) they found most natural.

Comfort

Your pillow should be soft and snuggly enough to lull you quickly to sleep while providing that vital support. And as the night goes on, that level of comfort shouldn’t wane or require adjustments to maintain. Our testers quickly eliminated pillows that were too stiff, bouncy, bunchy, or flat.

Several factors influence what’s most comfortable for you: Your height, shoulder width, the type of pillow you’re used to using — even how warm you tend to run during the night.

Material

Experts agree that there’s no such thing as a universally perfect pillow. Personal preference plays a huge part in what you’ll love. What our 25 pillow testers found most comfortable and supportive fell into two opposite categories according to material: Some favored dense, moldable memory foam pillows, while others opted for light, fluffy down alternative pillows. While there is some correlation between material and sleeping position, our testers found that shape, height, and density correlated to sleeping position more often than material did. As with most aspects of a pillow, material simply comes down to personal preference.

The 4 Best Pillows

    the four pillows we tested
    Best Memory Foam for Most
    Coop

    Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

    Fluffy shredded memory foam for any sleeper.

    Pros

    Malleable
    Customizable
    Tester favorite

    Cons

    Lumpier than down alternatives

    Why we chose it

    Malleable

    Shredded memory foam, as you might have guessed, is memory foam torn into tiny pieces reminiscent of cake crumbs. Rather than an immovable block of foam, the Coop is easy to personalize depending on your preferred sleep position: Side sleepers can bundle it up under their necks, and back sleepers can find a nice balance of height and give.

    Customizable

    Beyond customizing the pillow as you sleep, you can also unzip the Coop’s cover to remove and add filling depending on what works for you. No matter how broad or narrow your shoulders, you’ll be able to achieve the ideal height to support your neck through the night.

    Coop Interior for Pillow

    Tester favorite

    The Coop was a unanimous favorite among our 25 testers, regardless of their preferred sleep positions. In contrast, two other shredded memory foam pillows we tested only supported back sleepers.

    Points to consider

    Lumpier than down alternatives

    The downside to the shredding that makes this pillow so easy to fluff and flatten is that the cake-crumb texture is also slightly lumpy. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, though, since it compressed and indented fluidly when testers applied pressure.

    Best Memory Foam for Side and Back Sleepers
    Iso-Cool

    Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow

    Cooling, firmer memory foam block.

    Pros

    Supportive
    Smooth
    Cooling

    Cons

    Unyielding

    Why we chose it

    Supportive

    The Iso-Cool’s classic memory foam block is firmer and designed specifically for side sleepers — it’ll keep your head up and supported. It also provides adequate support for back sleepers, and if you like a pillow between your knees, it’s a great secondary pillow.

    Smooth

    Unlike the shredded texture of the Coop, this pillow’s a solid block of memory foam. That, combined with a 300-thread-count cotton casing, makes it smoother and less lumpy than shredded foam or down alternatives.

    Cooling

    The Iso-Cool pillow lives up to its name: It’s cool to the touch. Resting your head on it feels refreshing, like dipping your toes in a cold lake on a hot day. That sensation comes from its cover, which is a mix of cotton and microscopic cooling beads — the same material used in cooling vests worn by construction workers.

    Points to consider

    Unyielding

    The Iso-Cool’s sides are stitched with two corded gussets to help it firmly retain its shape. So, if you love to bundle up your pillow (looking at you, stomach sleepers), the Iso-Cool probably isn’t for you. Consider the Coop Home Goods pillow or the fluffier Casper pillow instead.

    ISO-Cool Close-up for Pillow
    Best Down Alternative for Stomach and Side Sleepers
    Casper

    The Casper Pillow

    A synthetic down pillow that feels like the real thing.

    Pros

    Balance of comfort and support
    Realistically mimics down
    Customizable

    Cons

    Not ideal for back sleepers

    Why we chose it

    Balance of comfort and support

    Capser makes a fluffy pillow that’s easier to cuddle with than our memory foam options — but it’s still dense enough to support your head and neck without falling flat. Side sleepers, in particular, will appreciate its height while still being able to squeeze it.

    Realistically mimics down

    We love Casper’s unique “pillow-in-pillow” design: Its core is filled with cotton and polyester, covered by an outer shell made of polyester fibers that mimic feathers. Because the Casper is made from synthetic fibers rather than memory foam, it doesn’t reform or resist like the Coop or Iso-Cool. Like with real down, Casper will adapt if you if you scrunch it up, whereas a memory foam pillow would start to slowly return to its original shape.

    Customizable

    The outer layer is removable, so you can wash it along with your bed sheets or keep it off if you prefer to sleep on the inner pillow. Stomach sleepers tended to prefer the lower, flatter inner pillow, but other testers thought it was a little too lumpy on its own.

    Casper Close-up for Pillow

    Points to consider

    Not ideal for back sleepers

    The Casper will work for any sleeper who wants a fluffy pillow that still supports the head, neck, and shoulders; however, some back sleepers will find it sports lower and fluffier support than they prefer. If you know you like more support from a down alternative, we recommend trying our Parachute pick. But know that you can give Casper a try without committing: The company offers a 100-night trial run.

    Best Down Alternative for Back Sleepers
    Parachute

    Parachute Down Alternative Pillow

    A firmer, ultra-customizable down alternative.

    Pros

    Supportive for back sleepers
    Luxurious feel
    Ultra-customizable

    Cons

    Not-so-squishable

    Why we chose it

    Supportive for back sleepers

    The Parachute also uses polyester fill to mimic feathers, but it’s bouncier than the Casper. Back sleepers, in particular, preferred this option because of its balanced loft. It’s not too high that your chin dips to your neck, but it has enough support to cushion the head. One tester even converted, saying “I am normally a side sleeper but was even comfortable on my back.”

    Luxurious feel

    The Parachute’s interior texture has a silky feel to it, almost like fur. This sensation comes from a microfiber fill with a sateen cotton shell. The pillow is also the lightest in weight, conjuring images of dreamy clouds. You’ll love the Parachute if you want a dense and supportive pillow that still cozily cradles your head.

    Parachute-Pillow for Pillow

    Ultra-customizable

    Testers thought the Parachute’s comfortable cradle made the pillow feel special-ordered for them — which you can actually do. We chose the medium density option, but you can go softer or firmer, or upgrade to a real down and feather fill if you prefer something heavier and flatter.

    Points to consider

    Not-so-squishable

    The flipside to the Parachute’s supportive fill is that it may be denser and bouncier than some stomach and side sleepers prefer. If you’re really looking to sink into a pillow, the Casper is your best best; if support and cushion are your priority, go with the Parachute.

    How to Find the Right Pillow for You

    Know how much support you need

    Side sleepers typically prefer a pillow they can bundle up, while back sleepers want one full enough to cradle their head without sinking. We recommend focusing on a pillow’s level of support first, rather than its material.

    Consider multiple pillows if you’re a multi-position sleeper

    Michelle Fishberg, co-founder and CEO of Slumbr, told us that it’s common to sleep in different positions. Pete Bils, VP of sleep science and research at Sleep Number, recommends people own a few different types of pillows for that very reason.

    “Listen to what your body needs at bedtime. So many things affect how our bodies feel – such as diet, hydration, stress, and exercise – that it’s not uncommon to have a preference for a different pillow from night to night.”


    Michelle Fishberg – Co-Founder and CEO of Slumbr

    Know when to mix things up

    Like Fishberg said, your lifestyle determines what level of support you need. Just ran a marathon? Try sleeping on your back with a firmer pillow that supports your neck tension, with a pillow under your knees for lower back support. But by the weekend, a more pampering pillow might lead you to a sleep-in snooze on your side.

    Pillow FAQ

    The Best Pillows: Summed Up

    Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
    Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow
    The Casper Pillow
    Parachute Down Alternative Pillow
    The best
    Memory foam for most
    Memory foam for side and back sleepers
    Down alternative for stomach and side sleepers
    Down alternative for back sleepers
    Price
    $64.99
    $149.59 (two-pack)
    $55
    Starting at $59
    Cover material
    Polyester and rayon derived from bamboo
    Cotton and microscopic PCM beads
    Cotton
    Sateen cotton
    Filling material
    Shredded visco-elastic memory foam
    Visco-elastic memory foam
    Polyester and ‘other fiber’
    Hypoallergenic microfiber
    Ideal for stomach sleepers
    Ideal for side sleepers
    Ideal for back sleepers

    About the Authors

    Danika Miller

    Danika Miller Internet & Entertainment Writer

    Danika Miller has been writing for Reviews.com for three years, where she specializes in streaming, internet, and TV topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative and technical writing from Western Washington University.