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Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Caroline Igo (she/her/hers) is a wellness editor and holds Sleep Science Coach and Stress Management certificates from the Spencer Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Miami University and continues to further her craft in her free time. Before joining CNET, Caroline wrote for past CNN anchor, Daryn Kagan.
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Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2021)
You probably haven't given much thought to your pillows. For most people, it's all about the mattress. But what if we told you that your pillow might be the reason why you aren't sleeping well? That's right, snoozing with a pillow not suited for your sleeping position can leave you with a stiff or aching neck in the morning.
To help you decide on the ideal pillow for you, we've rounded up the best pillows available online right now. We've also explained the best pillow material differences and included pillow review input from enthusiastic internet reviewers -- complete with our own hands-on (heads-on?) impressions and recommendations for whose needs they'll likely suit best. Here's hoping that a good night's rest is right around the corner. Find your next comfortable pillow from these best pillows.
How we tested the best pillow
Our team of experts tested these pillows the only way you can -- by sleeping on them. When testing the best pillows, we kept in mind important factors like feel, firmness, comfort, breathability, filling, cover materials and performance. We looked for pillows that had accommodating designs, unique features and supportive profiles.
We tested the pillows from every sleeping style, ensuring that we can confidently recommend the best pillow for everyone. The team measured the loft or height to determine the sleeping positions a pillow suits best and deconstructed the pillows to test the inside filling. Additionally, pillows were compared by price, adjustability and trial length.
The Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow Ultimate is an ultra-comfy pillow that's suitable for all sleeping positions. That's why it takes our pick for the best overall pillow. It's the type of pillow everyone will love, thanks to the choice of classic, curved or ultimate shape.
It's also one of the best hypoallergenic pillows with memory foam and premium down alternative fibers making up the inside. When you lay down on the Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow, the cover is noticeably soft and breathable.
What's unique about the Ultimate model of the Sleep Number Comfortfit pillow is the three removable inserts that allow you to tailor it to your needs. Side sleepers should use one or two inserts, while stomach and back sleepers are best suited for two or three inserts, according to Sleep Number.
It is a more expensive pillow, at around $140. However, with the quality and personalization, it may be the only pillow you need on your bed.
If you're a hot sleeper or someone who cherishes the "cool side of the pillow," consider the Casper Hybrid Pillow, our pick for best cooling pillow. From popular mattress brand, Casper, this pillow is made with perforated poly foam, polyester fibers and gel. It utilizes what Casper calls Snow Technology that includes phase change material that remains temperature-neutral around your head and neck and allows for airflow.
Unlike other best cooling pillows, the Casper Hybrid is actually cool-to-the-touch. When you put your head on it, you immediately feel the cooling sensation. Keep in mind that a pillowcase will dull it a little, but not too significantly. If you want the full effect, you can rest easy knowing the cover is removable and machine-washable. However, we recommend using a pillowcase that is light and breathable such as silk, bamboo or Tencel.
With two layers of supportive foam and an antibacterial, cooling bamboo case, Cosy House's shredded foam pillows are made to relieve some of the greatest sleeping woes, namely overheating and uncomfortable pressure points. The relatively firm construction helps the pillow maintain its shape while sleeping, but the shredded memory foam pillow fill in its bottommost layer is removable, which allows you to customize its density. Its affordable price makes it one of the best value pillows you can buy.
"This is one heavy pillow and I kept removing the filling until getting it just right," one reviewer wrote, adding that, when filled to capacity with the shredded memory foam, the pillow may be a little too big and firm for some people's sleeping position. That was my experience -- like with most of the adjustable pillows I tested, I ended up adjusting down for something with a little more give. Once I did, the pillow's spongy foam felt both soft and supportive.
I only noticed a slight cooling effect when I slept on the Cosy House Bamboo Pillow, but I still appreciated the ultrasoft, machine-washable quilted bamboo cover, which naturally resists allergens and dust mite issues. Between that and the cozy, adjustable fill, this pillow feels like a good value to me at less than $50. You can also add two bamboo pillow cases to your pillow order for an additional $24, and still pay less overall than you will for some of the pillows on this list.
Like the Nectar mattress, the Nectar pillow is one of the best memory foam pillows you can get. It has adjustable filling, but only in its outer layer -- the "inner" pillow is a sturdy memory foam pillow that maintains its shape and structure. Its exterior is made of quilted foam that you can spot-clean and air-dry. In addition to its "two pillows in one" design and supportive gusset, the Nectar's pillow's main selling point is its memory foam pillow fill. This comfortable memory foam pillow conforms to your neck, shoulders and head to provide support without caving in, striking a balance that not every memory foam pillow can claim. One downside? The pillow itself isn't machine-washable.
CNET's Sharon Profis tested the memory foam pillow for 10 days and, after removing just a handful of pillow filling, found it to be a comfortable option for her side sleep position. The memory foam pillow, she noted, retained its structure and height, maintaining neck support throughout the night.
I tested one as well, and came to the same conclusion. The memory foam in the middle makes for a dense pillow, but the fill layer keeps it from feeling too firm or springy. I was able to sleep soundly on it even before I removed any of the outer pillow fill. Once I did adjust things down to my liking, the Nectar Pillow finished as my top-scoring, subjective favorite as far as comfort is concerned, and that makes it a pillow that I'd be willing to spend a little extra for. I also appreciated the high-end quilted exterior and the extra-long, oversize design -- though you'll want to have an oversize pillowcase to go with it.
You may have heard of Coop Sleep Good's Eden Pillow, as it often tops lists of the best pillows. And if you thought that pillow was cool -- it got even better. The Coop Eden Cool Plus Pillow is the new version of the Eden Pillow. It still has a similar cool-to-the-touch cover and now a heat-wicking inner liner, a gel layer and shredded gel-infused memory foam, which is great for hot sleepers. The filling is Greenguard Gold and CertiPur-US certified.
This pillow is also adjustable. It comes with extra filling, as well as an option to pull the filling out. Make it as firm or soft as you desire, as long as it isn't too high. I like that the memory foam contours and lets you sink a little into the pillow, regardless of how much you fill it. Back sleepers will feel fully supported with this pillow.
Like the Purple Mattress, the Purple Pillow uses a unique, one-piece polymer grid to cradle your head and neck as you sleep. The grid distributes weight well and doesn't absorb heat like foam can, so fans say that it stays extra-cool and cozy at night. Thanks to its construction and loft, the Purple Harmony Pillow is the best pillow for side sleepers.
The Purple Harmony pillow sells for a princely $179, though can often be found on sale. Instead of making up the entirety of the interior, the cushy polymer grid is now much thinner, filling just the microfiber outer case and surrounding a thick, spongy latex core. The mostly hollow grid and the moisture-wicking, microfiber case do a great job of improving airflow and keeping things cool by creating some separation between your head and the latex.
The Harmony pillow wasn't nearly as heavy as I expected it to be after reading reviews of the original, and the feel of that polymer grid was much softer than I had imagined, too. There's still something of a springy, rubbery quality to the pillow that lifted my neck a little too much for my liking when lying on my back, but I found it to be much better suited for a stomach sleeper, which is my usual preference. In fact, I slept like a rock on it.
I just wish I could have adjusted this pillow. A lack of adjustability was a key criticism of the original, so it surprises me that you can't adjust the Harmony, either -- especially at this price. For my money, I'd probably be more inclined to go with the new version of Purple's original pillow, which adds in removable booster pads for adjustability and costs a lot less at $120.
Available in comfortable soft, medium and firm densities, the Parachute Down Alternative Pillow is our pick for the best pillow for stomach sleepers. This pillow is filled with superfine microfiber that emulates the best qualities of a regular down pillow -- just without the allergies. It's a pretty standard pillow that's flat enough so stomach sleepers can sleep comfortably without waking up with a sore neck. The best pillows for stomach sleepers will have a lower loft, which keeps the spine aligned through the night.
For added allergy protection, you can also buy Parachute's washable cotton pillow protector. Fluffy, soft and pleasantly warm (due to its downlike filling), this pillow has been praised by side, stomach and back sleepers alike for its lightweight feel and downlike "squishiness." Like a regular down pillow, Parachute's pillow can be fluffed into a comfortable shape for each sleeping position.
If you're looking for a supportive, fun pillow just to lounge on the couch or bed with, the Buffy Wiggle Pillow is it. The 8- by 82-inch floppy, long pillow is made of eucalyptus lyocell fabric and the cover is soft sherpa. The filling inside the Wiggle Pillow is actually made of spun recycled plastic pieces -- with each pillow being filled with about 55 recycled plastic water bottles. In addition to being Earth-friendly, the pillow is cruelty-free and BPA-free.
This long pillow is great for lounging, snuggling and pregnancy. It can be tied in a knot, used for extra support at night or as a body pillow. I have my Wiggle Pillow on my couch, and I love how it both elevates my simple couch as a decorative pillow and ups my overall comfort at night. Note that the soft cover is sold separately.
Shredded memory foam, layer of foam and a bamboo case
Nectar Resident Pillow
Two types of memory foam and quilted outer shell
Coop Eden Cool Plus Pillow
Shredded memory foam
Purple Harmony Pillow
Nylon fibers, spandex fiber cover and hyper-elastic polymer grid
Parachute Down Alternative
Soft to Medium
Microfiber fill and cotton sateen shell
Buffy Wiggle Pillow
One size (8 x 82 inches)
Eucalyptus Tencel lyocell fabric
Factors to consider when choosing a pillow
The market is flooded with dozens of pillows that have expert marketing and appealing advertising. It's easy to jump at the chance to "sleep on a cloud," but the reality is that not every pillow will work for you. Which pillow is right for you will depend on your preferences, price range and sleeping position. However, that are several other factors you should consider when shopping for the best pillows. Let's go through each.
There are several popular pillow materials to choose from -- memory foam, polyfill, down alternative and feathers. There is no single best pillow material, but there are reasons you would choose one over the other. If you're someone who suffers from allergies, you probably don't want to choose a feather pillow. It's important to do your research into the pros and cons of each material to find which is the best for you.
Pillow loft refers to how high or thick the pillow is when nothing is putting pressure on it. While this is a preference-based factor, it also is essential for neck support at night. So, how do you choose the right pillow loft for you? When choosing pillow loft, consider your sleeping style and the position of your neck. Side sleepers need a higher pillow loft to make up for the difference distance between their shoulders and head to the mattress. Stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow to ensure their neck isn't in an unnatural position at night.
Your sleeping position, body weight and head size will help you determine how much loft your pillow should have.
Pillow size is pretty straight forward, but still something to consider. Most pillows are sold in either a standard or king size. Pillows come in different shapes, too, which can make it a more complicated decision. Many brands sell pillows that are curved or extra fluffy. The size and shape of your pillow will come down to your preferences.
Just like with mattresses, sleeping position matters when choosing the best pillow for you. Your sleeping position will determine the loft and firmness of your pillow. Stomach sleepers should opt for pillows that are softer and thinner; that way their neck isn't turned in an unnatural position through the night. Side sleepers need a higher, firmer pillow that keeps their neck and spine aligned at night. Back sleepers have the most flexibility when choosing the best pillow; they can opt for a pillow somewhere in the middle.
Other pillows worth considering
We haven't tested the following pillows yet, but with strong reviews and good company track records, they're worth a look as you shop around.
Not only is this plush pillow vegan, allergen-free and available in a variety of pillow size options and densities, it also has the longest trial period (365 days) of any product on this list. So if you take a while to adjust to a change or just believe that a pillow must be "broken in" to show its true strengths, you have plenty of time to make your final decision. And, if you aren't a firm pillow fanatic, that extra-long trial period may come in handy.
According to some, there's a chance that this pillow may be a little too firm. Others said that their pillows softened up after a few weeks of use, while self-described side-sleepers said they took to the pillow's firmness right away. You can purchase a pack of two corresponding pillow cases separately, for $49.
Sold on Amazon in packs of two with a machine washable pillow cover, DreamNorth's soft pillows are easily the most cost-effective choice on this list. That said, their breathability, down-free fluffiness and supportive gel pillow fiber fill could keep them from feeling "cheap." Described as "ultrasoft," this softer pillow option is probably not the right choice if you're looking for something particularly firm, but their softness may make their ability to retain their shape more impressive.
"They came vacuum-sealed and squished flat but as soon as you take it out of the package they fluff up like marshmallows and stay that way. I've only noticed some slight, very slight flattening in the four months I've had them," one reviewer wrote. Others noted the pillows' fluffiness but added that they didn't have to sacrifice any amount of neck support for how soft they were, either: "I highly recommend these pillows if you are [prone] to waking up with neck aches or headaches, because the pillow conforms nicely to give you the support you need while being soft enough to make you comfortable."
It's right there in the name. The $129 Luxe Pillow is filled with high-quality, sustainably sourced goose down and waterfowl feathers is undoubtedly luxurious. It's one of the best pillows available. Where the goose down offers fluff, the waterfowl feathers provide support -- and both materials are hypoallergenic and Responsible Down Standard-certified. This combination means the pillows are made with any sleeping position in mind, which some customers have put to the test. "I love this pillow," one reviewer wrote. "It helps me sleep in any position, on my back, stomach or side."
Snowe's down alternative offering is also a hypoallergenic pillow that is ultraplush. It's available in three density options and comes with a washable sateen cover. According to an enthusiastic reviewer, the fill is beyond convincing in how it replicates the feel of a regular down pillow: "The alternative down used in these pillows is like magic. Maximum compression but they always puff back up. Auto-fluffing pillows!"
Snowe's site helpfully notes that the softer version will be more comfortable for stomach sleepers, while side sleepers will often prefer something firmer for a good night's rest.
Thanks to the various pillow materials, you can't just throw your pillow in the washing machine and hope for the best anymore. Yes, some pillows are entirely machine washable with cool water, but many have removable covers that you can wash. It's important to check the label for cleaning recommendations. Some of the best pillows, like memory foam, are hand wash only.
How much do pillows cost?
The best pillows range in price, from around $40 all the way up to $150 and above. Pricing usually varies depending on the materials used and any additional features the pillow has. For example, pillows using high-quality memory foam or phase-changing materials will cost a little bit more. However, there are good pillows at every price point. The Cosy House Bamboo Pillow is our pick for the best value pillow on the market.
How often should I wash my pillow?
Your pillows don't need to be washed as often as your sheets and pillowcases do. Your sheets should typically be washed every two weeks. Your pillows should be washed every three to six months. Make sure to keep an eye on any spills that would accelerate this timeline. You can spot clean your pillows between full washes.
What is the best pillow for neck pain?
The best pillow for neck pain is one that supports your neck and spinal alignment, ensuring your neck isn't in an unnatural position at night. We think that Original Casper Pillow is one of the best pillows for neck support.
Remember that using the wrong pillow -- one that is too lofty or firm -- can contribute to neck pain. Always make sure you use the best pillow for your sleeping position.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.