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.

The 4 Best Pillows

the four pillows we tested


Best Memory Foam for Most
Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Coop
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 Memory Foam Pillow
Iso-Cool
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
Parachute Down Alternative Pillow
Casper
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 Down Alternative Pillow
Parachute
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 FishbergCo-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

How often should I wash my pillow?

Experts recommend washing your pillow at least twice a year. Getting into the habit of regular washing prolongs your pillow’s lifespan and eliminates the accumulation of dirt and other allergens lurking in your bed.

What's the best way to wash my pillow?

All of the down alternative pillows and shredded memory foam pillows we tested can be machine washed in cold water, then dried on a low heat. However, solid memory foam (like the Iso-Cool and Temperpedic) is a little more finicky. Be sure to read the instructions for washing for your pillow — some materials, like feather or down, have special instructions.

Should I buy a pillow protector?

Yes. The National Sleep Foundation says that those protectors can help extend the life of your pillow by preventing the accumulation of allergy triggers like mold.

How often should I replace my pillow?

With nightly use, your pillow will become less supportive over time. And — try not to think about this while you fall asleep — it’ll absorb body oil, hair, and dead skin cells, too, making it a boon for dust mites. Considering these two factors, the National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your pillow every one to two years.

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