Best Pillows – Tuck’s Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Our Review Process
Tuck’s mattress and bedding recommendations are based on more than 300,000 verified customer experiences and our team’s exhaustive testing procedure. We never recommend a sleep product we haven’t personally experienced and tested in our lab. You can rest assured, when you’re ready to buy, the product you pick meets Tuck’s lofty standards.

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Quick Summary

Buying a new pillow is trickier than it sounds. This is particularly true for sleepers with chronic pain and other conditions that require comfortable, supportive cushioning for the head, neck, and shoulders. And while the average pillow will not need to be replaced for two to three years, expected lifespans vary significantly by pillow type.

There are several other factors to weigh when selecting a new pillow. One important consideration is loft, or thickness; buyers should use their weight, head size, shoulder width, and sleep position to determine which loft is best for them. Another variable is material composition of the fill and cover, as pillows today are made from a wide range of materials. Additional criteria include heat retention, pressure relief, moldability, and price-point.

Read on to learn more about how to choose the right pillow. Below you will find our picks for the best pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

The Best Pillows of 2018

Editor’s Pick – Coop Home Goods Eden

Best One-Piece Memory Foam Pillow – Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow

Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow – Nest Bedding Easy Breather

Best Latex Pillow – Malouf Z Zoned Talalay Latex

Best Buckwheat Pillow – Hullo

Best Down Pillow – Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow

Best Down Alternative Pillow – Leesa Hybrid

Best Cotton Pillow – Naturepedic Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow

Best Interlocking Polyfoam Pillow – MyPillow Premium

Best Pillow for Pain and Pressure Relief – Layla Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow – Snuggle-Pedic

How We Decided

 

70 pillows considered –– 100 hours of research –– 4 sleep experts consulted

The Best Pillows – Tuck's Top 11 Picks

Coop Home Goods Eden – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • ‘Medium Soft’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention

Our Editor’s Pick is the Eden Pillow from Coop Home Goods, a shredded gel memory foam model that is a standout for several reasons. One reason is adjustable loft. Owners can add or remove the shredded foam fill to increase or decrease the loft, giving them a customized feel every night.

The pillow also sleeps much cooler than other similar models, due to the gel-infused foam as well as a bamboo-rayon cover. The Eden retains its shape fairly well – a common complaint among shredded foam pillow owners. A removable polyester liner makes the Eden easy to clean as well, since the cover is machine washable.

Coop Home Goods offers a bundle deal for customers; they may purchase two pillows and two mattress protectors in any size for a discounted rate. The pillow ships free of charge to all 50 states; it is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those with fluctuating loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow Review

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow – Best One-Piece Memory Foam Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’ firmness
  • 5-year warranty
  • Medium loft (5″)
  • Flippable with even and arched surfaces
  • Exceptional durability and shape retention

Many sleepers have shifting preferences when it comes to how their pillow feels. The TEMPUR-Symphony from Tempur-Pedic is suitable for these individuals because it offers a flippable surface with two distinct feels. One side is flat and even, and conforms closely to alleviate pressure points, while the other side is arched to provide enhanced neck and head support.

Durability is another key strength of the TEMPUR-Symphony. The memory foam withstands deterioration better than foams used in other pillows, giving the TEMPUR-Symphony an exceptionally long lifespan. The pillow is also moldable, making it a good choice for sleepers who snuggle with pillows, but it will retain a full shape when not in use.

The TEMPUR-Symphony has an above-average price-point. However, Tempur-Pedic offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S. and the pillow is backed by a five-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who prefer a flippable, dual-sided design

Check Price | Read Our Full Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow Review

Nest Bedding Easy Breather – Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps exceptionally cool

Like the Eden from Coop Home Goods listed above, the Easy Breather from Nest Bedding is a shredded memory foam pillow that offers adjustable loft. This is particularly beneficial for sleepers with neck or shoulder pain who may require different loft depths night after night. The Easy Breather conforms closely to the head and neck to alleviate aches, pains, and pressure points as they develop.

The Easy Breather also sleeps quite cool due to good airflow in the interior, as well as a breathable Tencel® lyocell cover. Those who snuggle with pillows will find the Easy Breather highly moldable and easy to scrunch up, but it will retain its full shape after each use.

Nest Bedding offers free shipping for the Easy Breather anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Shoppers with bigger budgets

Check Price | Read Our Full Nest Easy Breather Pillow Review

Malouf Z Zoned Talalay Latex – Best Latex Pillow

Highlights
  • Multiple firmness options (‘Soft,’ ‘Firm’)
  • 5-year warranty
  • Multiple loft options (4.5″, 7″)
  • Extra support for head and neck
  • Sleeps exceptionally cool

The Zoned Talalay Latex pillow from Malouf is part of that brand’s Z series. This pillow, made from a single piece of Talalay latex, is available in ‘Soft’ and ‘Firm’ designs to accommodate sleepers with different firmness preferences. The material conforms closely to reduce pressure points throughout the head, neck, and shoulders.

Cool sleep is another benefit of the Zoned Talalay Latex pillow. The latex is aerated to promote good airflow and the cover is made from a breathable blend of polyester and rayon from bamboo. The pillow is also very durable, as is typical of all-latex pillows; the expected lifespan exceeds three years, which is longer than average compared to other pillow types.

The Zoned Talalay Latex pillow from Malouf qualifies for free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. It is backed by a five-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full Malouf Z Zoned Talalay Latex Review

Hullo – Best Buckwheat Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Firm’ firmness
  • 60-night sleep trial
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps very cool for most
  • Close conforming and pressure relief

Buckwheat pillows are a popular, eco-friendly alternative to other pillow types that conform closely and provide good pressure relief, such as latex and memory foam models. The Hullo from Hulltex LLC is a standout because it offers fully customizable loft; owners simply add or remove hulls to adjust the thickness, and may purchase extra hulls in bulk from Hulltex LLC whenever they need to replenish their supply.

Like other buckwheat pillows, the Hullo also sleeps fairly cool. Air circulates well in the hulls and the pillow comes with an organic-cotton twill cover. The Hullo is easy to care for as well; the cover is machine washable and the hulls never need to be cleaned.

The Hullo is offered in a Standard size for $99 and a King size for $149, making the pillow a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. Free shipping is available to customers in the contiguous U.S. and the pillow comes with a 60-night sleep trial.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full Hullo Pillow Review

Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow – Best Down Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’ firmness
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Layered down and feather construction
  • Cool and breathable

Down pillows are filled with the soft, interior plumage of ducks or geese; they also contain coarser outer feathers for extra padding. The TripleLayer Down Pillow from Malouf’s Z collection is constructed with top and bottom layers filled with ultrasoft down, as well as a feather-filled middle layer for optimal support. Sleepers will not be able to feel the feathers through the down – a common complaint associated with this pillow type.

The soft surface makes the pillow suitable for all sleep positions. Down sleeps cooler than most other pillow materials due to its light, fluffy consistency, and the TripleLayer Down Pillow also includes a breathable, unbleached cotton cover.

For every purchase of the TripleLayer Down Pillow, Malouf will make a donation to support survivors of sex trafficking. The pillow is sold at an above-average price-point, but Malouf offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. and a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Back and neck pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow Review

Leesa Hybrid – Best Down Alternative Pillow

Highlights
  • Flippable with dual firmness (‘Medium Soft,’ ‘Medium Firm’)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Innovative, multi-textured design

Down alternative – a material made from polyester puffballs – offers the same conforming feel as authentic down. The Leesa Hybrid is a flippable pillow with one side that is contoured and padded with down alternative, while the other side is flat and cushioned with a cooling gel insert. As a result, owners may flip between a soft, pressure-relieving side and a supportive, temperature-neutral side. The down alternative can be added or removed to adjust the loft, as well.

The Leesa Hybrid also offers two firmness settings; the down alternative side is ‘Medium Soft’ and the gel insert side is ‘Medium Firm.’ This design makes the pillow suitable for a wide range of sleepers. Additionally, the Leesa Hybrid is low-maintenance when it comes to care, since the cover and interior liner are machine washable – making it much easier to clean that most authentic down pillows.

The Leesa Hybrid is a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. Leesa ships the pillow free-of-charge to all 50 states; it is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those with shifting loft preferences
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Leesa Hybrid Pillow Review

Naturepedic Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow – Best Cotton Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 30-night sleep trial
  • Multiple loft options (4″, 6″)
  • Eco-friendly construction
  • Durable and supportive

Cotton is a popular pillow material because it is light and breathable, and it sleeps cooler than synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon. The Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow from Naturepedic is a standout for temperature neutrality; in addition to the 300TC organic cotton cover, the pillow is filled with plant-based PLA batting that provides great airflow and temperature regulation. These materials are also certified as Organic (OCS100 Standard), making this pillow a good option for eco-friendly shoppers.

The Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow is ‘Medium’ in terms of firmness and is available in two loft profiles to accommodate sleepers with different thickness preferences. It can also be washed and dried in conventional machines, making it very easy to clean compared to other pillows (most of which need to be disassembled prior to machine washing).

This pillow has an above-average price-point and is a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. The Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow from Naturepedic is backed by a 30-night sleep trial.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Eco-friendly pillow shoppers

MyPillow Premium – Best Interlocking Polyfoam Pillow

Highlights
  • Multiple firmness options
  • 60-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Multiple loft options
  • Sleeps cool and retains shape well

In recent years, interlocking polyfoam pillows have become quite popular with sleepers. The filling material forms a supportive, body-cushioning surface that conforms closely and alleviates pressure without sinking too deeply. The MyPillow Premium is ideal for sleepers who are uncertain which loft profile is best for them. The pillow is offered in four different color-coded lofts – Yellow, White, Green, or Blue – that customers select based on their sex and T-shirt size.

The MyPillow Premium also sleeps fairly cool thanks to its ring-spun cotton cover, as well as good air circulation in the interior. The pillow may flatten periodically; when this occurs, owners simply place it in a conventional dryer and tumble dry for roughly 20 minutes. This process allows the pillow to recover its full shape without fluffing or primping. The pillow is fully machine washable, as well.

The MyPillow Premium ships anywhere in the U.S. for less than $20. The pillow is backed by a 60-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full MyPillow Premium Review

Layla Pillow – Best Pillow for Pain and Pressure Relief

Highlights
  • ‘Medium Soft’ firmness
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Supportive memory foam and kapok fiber fill
  • Comfortable, copper-infused cover

Many pillows – particularly shredded memory foam models – provide above-average pain and pressure relief. The Layla Pillow is a standout in this category for several reasons. For one, the shredded foam fill is supplemented with fibers from the kapok tree, which have a down-like consistency and provide extra cushioning. The polyester-blend cover is also infused with copper, which promotes strong blood flow and helps improve circulation in sleepers. These materials also regulate temperature well, allowing the pillow to sleep exceptionally cool.

Moldability is another benefit of the Layla Pillow; it is scrunchy enough for most people who like to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep. It also produces less off-gassing odor than most similar shredded foam pillows.

Layla offers free pillow shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S., and customers in Alaska and Canada pay a flat delivery rate of $20. The pillow is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty, both of which are much longer than average.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Sleepers who enjoy sleeping on down pillows

Check Price | Read Our Full Layla Pillow Review

Snuggle-Pedic – Best Cooling Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 20-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Cool, pressure-relieving comfort

The Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Pillow from Relief Mart – also known simply as the Snuggle-Pedic – regulates temperature well even by shredded memory foam pillow standards. Good airflow throughout the interior and a bamboo-rayon cover prevent the pillow from absorbing too much body heat from sleepers, allowing it to sleep very cool.

The Snuggle-Pedic also offers adjustable loft; because the pillow is sealed, owners are asked to ship their Snuggle-Pedic to Relief Mart whenever they want the loft changed, rather than performing the adjustment themselves. Relief Mart offers free, unlimited loft adjustments for all Snuggle-Pedic owners. Other benefits of the pillow include a low price-point, close conforming, and above-average pressure relief.

Relief Mart ships the Snuggle-Pedic for free anywhere in the U.S. The pillow is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty; both are much longer than average.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full Snuggle-Pedic Pillow Review

Best Pillows Buyer's Guide

Like mattresses, pillows play a pivotal role in overall sleep quality. The ‘right’ pillow can help ensure a comfortable night’s rest, while the ‘wrong’ pillow can lead to added strain and pressure in the neck and shoulders. However, finding a pillow that’s right for you can be trickier than it sounds.

Pillow shoppers must consider several factors when deciding which product to purchase. Material composition is one important consideration, considering the wide selection available today. These include polyester, cotton, down, foam, latex, and buckwheat pillows, as well as natural and organic options. Finding the right loft (or thickness) is also crucial, and often comes down to the sleeper’s body type and comfort preferences. And with six pillow sizes commonly sold, determining the proper length and width also requires some product research.

This comprehensive guide will explore the pros and cons of different pillow types, lofts, and sizes. All ratings have been generated from authentic customer experiences with different pillow products. Read on to learn more about which pillow is the best fit for you.

|Pillow Sizes|

First, let’s discuss common pillow sizes. Most pillows sold today come in one or more of the following six sizes: Standard, Super Standard, Queen, King, Euro, or Body Pillow. Additionally, there are corresponding pillowcase sizes; generally speaking, the pillowcase is one to two inches wider and two to four inches longer than the pillow itself.

The table below looks at the dimensions for these pillow and pillowcase sizes.

Pillow SizeDimensionsPillow Case Size and Dimensions
Standard20W” x 26L”Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)
Super Standard20W” x 28L”Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)
Queen20W” x 30L”Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)
Queen (20-22W” x 30-34L”)
King20W” x 36L”King (20-21W” x 36-41″L)
Euro26W” x 26L”
24W” x 24L”
22W” x 22L”
20W” x 20L”
18W” x 18L”
16W” x 16L”
Euro (dimensions vary)
Body Pillow54W” x 20L”
48W” x 20L”
Body pillow (dimensions vary)

Pillow size often comes down to personal preference, as well as mattress size.

  • Standard is the most common size for pillows sold today. With the exception of smaller Euro sizes, Standard-size pillows are typically the shortest and most compact options. They also tend to be the least expensive. One Standard pillow is usually sufficient for Twin- or Full-size mattresses, while two Standard pillows will be sufficient for most Queen- and King-size mattresses.
  • Super Standard pillows are a slightly longer option for sleepers who find Standard-size pillows to be too compact.
  • Queen pillows provide extra room on both sides of the head, making this size suitable for people who toss and turn or shift positions during the night.
  • Like Queen-size pillows, King pillows offer extra room on both sides of the head make this size suitable for people that toss and turn. They can also serve as back rests for people who are sitting up in bed.
  • Euro pillows come in a wide range of different dimensions, but as a general rule, they are always square-shaped. Their size is most suitable as backrests or headrests for people who read in bed. In Europe, these are widely used as primary sleep pillows as well.
  • Body Pillows are designed for sleepers who prefer to snuggle or hold onto their pillow while sleeping. They are popular with side-sleepers, as well as pregnant women.

|Pillow Loft|

Loft refers to the height, or thickness, of a pillow, and is linked to how supportive and comfortable the pillow will feel for different sleepers. Loft is generally categorized using the following three categories:

  • Low loft pillows are less than three inches thick.
  • Medium loft pillows fall between three and five inches thick.
  • High loft pillows are more than five inches thick.

Most sleepers will not feel comfortable on pillows with exceptionally low or exceptionally high lofts, but this will come down to personal preferences. The following factors can be used to determine the proper pillow loft for different sleepers:

  • Sleep position: Back-sleepers tend to enjoy medium-loft pillows the most because they provide a balance of softness and thickness. Side-sleepers, on the other hand, typically have extra space between their head and the pillow due to their position. As a result, they usually feel the most comfortable on pillows that are medium- or high-loft. Stomach-sleepers may not require a pillow at all, since there is not as much space between their head and the surface of the bed; low- to medium-loft pillows are usually sufficient for stomach-sleepers that prefer extra cushioning.
  • Pillow position: Some people prefer to sleep with their head completely under their head. These sleepers typically feel the most comfort and support from a low- to medium-loft pillow. Those who sleep with pillows partially underneath their heads may require higher loft to compensate for areas of the head that are not supported.
  • Body weight: People with above-average weights (more than 230 pounds) compress mattresses to a greater extent, resulting in less space between their head and the sleep surface. They tend to prefer low- to medium-loft pillows. Lightweight sleepers (less than 130 pounds) do not compress mattresses as much, and often require high-loft pillows to fill the extra space. Those with average weights (130 to 230 pounds) usually feel most comfortable with medium-loft pillows.
  • Body type: Several body type factors can be used to find the right pillow loft. Head size is one of these considerations; those with larger and/or heavier heads often prefer high-loft pillows because they provide extra comfort and support, while those with smaller and/or lighter heads does not require as much loft. Shoulder width is also important, since wide shoulders create extra space between the sleeper’s head and the pillow, requiring extra loft.
  • Mattress type: Some mattresses (such as foam and latex models) are designed to sink deeply beneath the sleeper’s body. For these mattresses, low-loft pillows are usually sufficient. For innersprings and other mattresses that do not sink as much, a medium- to high-loft pillow may be necessary to provide adequate comfort and support. In addition to mattress type, mattress firmness may also play a role in determining the right loft.

The following table looks at suitable loft options for different sleepers, based on the criteria described above.

Sleep PositionCriteriaLow Loft (Less than 3 in.)Medium Loft (3 to 5 in.)High Loft (More than 5 in.)
Side SleepingBelow-average WeightPoorGoodVery Good
Average WeightPoorVery GoodGood
Above-average WeightFairVery GoodGood
Large/Heavy HeadPoorFairVery Good
Average Head SizeFairVery GoodVery Good
Small/Light HeadFairVery GoodGood
Broad ShouldersPoorGoodVery Good
Average Shoulder WidthFairVery GoodVery Good
Narrow ShouldersFairVery GoodGood
Back SleepingBelow-average WeightFairGoodVery Good
Average WeightGoodVery GoodGood
Above-average WeightVery GoodGoodFair
Large/Heavy HeadFairGoodVery Good
Average Head SizeGoodVery GoodGood
Small/Light HeadVery GoodGoodFair
Broad ShouldersFairVery GoodVery Good
Average Shoulder WidthGoodVery GoodGood
Narrow ShouldersVery GoodGoodGood
Stomach SleepingBelow-average WeightGoodVery GoodFair
Average WeightGoodGoodPoor
Above-average WeightGoodFairPoor
Large/Heavy HeadGoodVery GoodFair
Average HeadVery GoodGoodFair
Small/Light HeadGoodFairPoor
Broad ShouldersGoodVery GoodFair
Average Shoulder WidthVery GoodGoodFair
Narrow ShouldersGoodFairPoor

Please note that the ratings above represent average customer experiences. In order to find the right pillow for you, we suggest testing out pillows with different lofts.

|Common Pillow Types|

Now that we have discussed pillow sizes and loft options, let’s look at types of pillows that are sold today. The most common pillow types include the following (listed in alphabetical order):

Buckwheat 

Buckwheat pillows are filled with hulls, or the husk-like outer shell found around buckwheat kernels. Most are designed to contain between five and 10 pounds of buckwheat hull.

Benefits:

  • Buckwheat pillows offer above-average support.
  • Many buckwheat pillow manufacturers offer customizable fill capacities to accommodate different sleepers.
  • Buckwheat pillows have been linked to pain and pressure relief.
  • Buckwheat pillows do not absorb as much body heat as other pillow types.

Drawbacks:

  • Buckwheat pillows often have above-average price-points, with some costing upward of $100 per pillow.
  • The above-average firmness of buckwheat pillows may not be suitable for certain sleepers that require extra cushioning, such as side-sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds.
  • Because they tend to weigh more than other pillows (five to 10 pounds on average), buckwheat pillows may be more difficult to maneuver and reposition during the night.

Down

The term ‘down’ refers to the plumage (but not the feathers) of ducks or geese. In order to be considered a ‘down pillow’, the pillow must contain at least 75% down and no more than 25% feather fill.

Benefits:

  • Down pillows are exceptionally lightweight and malleable beneath the sleeper’s head and neck, resulting in higher levels of overall comfort.
  • Down pillows absorb some body heat but not as much as other pillow types, which can elevate comfort during colder times of the year.
  • The break-in period for most down pillows is relatively short, while the lifespan is often above-average.

Drawbacks:

  • Down pillows are among the most expensive pillows sold today, with high-end models selling for as much as $200 or more.
  • Down pillows are typically low- to medium-loft, which may make them less suitable for sleepers with large/heavy heads or broad shoulders, as well as some side-sleepers.
  • Due to their fill structure, down pillows may need to be shaken or fluffed out on a regular basis in order to ensure proper comfort and support.
  • Down carries an allergy risk for some sleepers, and the material may emit an unpleasant smell.

Down Alternative

Most ‘down alternative’ pillows are made from polyester fibers designed to mimic the soft, lightweight qualities of genuine down. As a result, most sleepers note close similarities in comfort and support between genuine and faux down.

Benefits:

  • Down alternative pillows are usually much cheaper than genuine down pillows.
  • Faux down may be more suitable for sleepers that experience down allergies.
  • Down alternative pillows generally provide the same softness and malleability as their genuine down counterparts, and have short break-in periods.

Drawbacks:

  • Down alternative pillows are not as durable as genuine down pillows.
  • A significant number of sleepers report increased pain and pressure after a few years of using down alternative pillows.
  • Like genuine down pillows, down alternative pillows can become misshapen somewhat easily and often require fluffing or shaking to maintain a full, comfortable shape.

Feather

Not to be confused with down pillows, which are primarily made from goose or duck plumage, feather pillows (as the name suggests) are almost entirely made of goose or duck feathers. In most cases, down will comprise less than 10% of a feather pillow — and many do not contain any down whatsoever. Most feather pillows are classified as low- to medium-loft.

Benefits:

  • Like down pillows, feather pillows are relatively soft, lightweight, and malleable.
  • Feather pillows absorb less heat compared to other pillow types.
  • In terms of durability, most feather pillows have lifespans that are significantly longer than other pillow types.
  • Feather pillows tend to be much cheaper than down pillows, though their price-point may be higher than other pillow types (such as down alternative or polyester).

Drawbacks:

  • Unlike down, feathers have sharp quills at their base that may poke through the outer cover, resulting in discomfort and above-average noise due to crunching.
  • Feather pillows often produce an unpleasant odor that is normally not found in down pillows.
  • Shaking or fluffing is often required to maintain a uniform shape in feather pillows, and their relatively low loft may not be suitable for certain sleepers.

Latex

Latex is a natural substance that is extracted from the sap of rubber trees and whipped into a frothy material that conforms closely. They provide support and alleviate pressure to roughly the same extent as memory foam pillows. Most latex pillows are medium- to high-loft, and are available in different firmness ratings.

Benefits:

  • Latex has been linked to above-average pain and pressure relief, and most owners claim latex pillows offer good support.
  • Unlike other pillow types (such as down, feather, or shredded memory foam), latex maintains a consistently uniform shape, and these pillows do not require much fluffing or shaking.
  • Latex pillows are virtually silent when bearing weight, and absorb minimal levels of body heat.

Drawbacks:

  • Latex pillows tend to be somewhat expensive; the average model costs between $40 and $60.
  • Latex pillows can be relatively dense and somewhat bouncy, and may not be suitable for sleepers who prefer a lighter, more stable pillow surface.
  • Latex pillows have been linked to unpleasant rubber-like smells, as well.

Memory Foam

Memory foam (also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam) is designed to conform deeply and create a cradle-shaped impression around the sleeper’s head, neck and shoulders. Two types of memory foam pillows are available. The first type is filled with shredded foam fibers, while the second type consists of a single section of foam. Memory foam pillows may be available in low-, medium- or high-loft designs.

Benefits:

  • Memory foam offers a good balance of firmness and support for most sleepers, and these pillows have been linked to pain and pressure relief.
  • Memory foam pillows are suitable for most side- and back-sleepers, as well as sleepers with different weights and body types, and are widely available to online and brick-and-mortar shoppers.
  • Memory foam pillows produce little to no noise,.

Drawbacks:

  • Off-gassing odors are associated with memory foam; expect unpleasant smells to linger for at least one to two days after the pillow has been removed from its packaging.
  • Memory foam pillows also have high price-points compared to other pillow types; the average shredded or one-piece memory foam pillow costs between $50 and $60.

Natural and Organic

The terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ refer to pillows made entirely from natural fibers with no synthetic or petrochemical components. Examples include pillows made of natural or organic cotton, organic wool, or silk. Pillows made entirely of natural or organic latex also fall under this category.

Benefits:

  • Natural and organic fibers tend to offer exceptional softness that is hard to find in synthetic materials, and the result is a pillow that is more comfortable and supportive than most.
  • Natural fibers are highly breathable.
  • In most cases, natural and organic pillows absorb much less heat than pillows made of polyester or foam.

Drawbacks:

  • Natural and organic pillows are usually very expensive, and shoppers should expect to pay at least $100 to $150; some models cost more than $500.
  • Natural and organic pillows are not as widely available as other pillow types.

Polyester and Polyfoam

Polyester pillows (as the name implies) are entirely filled with polyester fibers. Most are medium- to high-loft, though some low-loft polyester options are also available.

Benefits:

  • Polyester pillows are typically the cheapest option, with the average model priced between $10 and $15. They are also widely available.
  • The polyester fibers used in pillows are hypoallergenic, which make them suitable for sleepers who are allergic to other pillow materials (such as latex or down).
  • Polyester pillows produce little to no odor.
  • Polyester pillows are easier to maintain, and require less fluffing or shaking.

Drawbacks:

  • Polyester pillows are not particularly durable, and many owners claim the pillow becomes flat or misshapen after minimal use.
  • Polyester pillows are associated with less pain and pressure relief, and they may also absorb high levels of body heat.
  • Many polyester pillow owners report above-average noise when they are bearing weight. 

|Pillow Type Comparison|

The data table below compares the various qualities of all pillow types discussed above.

CriteriaBuckwheatDownDown AlternativeFeatherLatexMemory FoamNatural and OrganicPolyester
Average Price$50 to $75$70 to $100$20 to $30$25 to $50$40 to $60$50 to $60$150+$10 to $15
DurabilityVery GoodVery GoodFairVery GoodVery GoodGoodGoodPoor
SupportVery GoodFair to GoodFairFair to GoodVery GoodVery GoodVery GoodFair
OdorFair to GoodFair to GoodVery GoodPoor to FairFairPoor to FairGoodVery Good
Body Heat RetentionGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodPoor to FairGood to Very GoodFair to Good
LightweightPoor to FairVery GoodVery GoodGoodPoor to FairPoor to FairGood to Very GoodGood to Very Good
MaintenanceGoodFairFairPoor to FairGoodGoodFair to GoodPoor to Fair
WashableNoNoYesSometimesNoSometimesNoYes
Adjustable LoftYesNoNoNoNoSometimesSometimesNo
AvailabilityLimitedWideLimitedLimitedLimitedWideLimitedWide

|Final Pillow Shopping Checklist|

In order to find a pillow that matches your sleep preferences, be sure to take the following considerations into account:

For choosing the pillow size:

  • How large is your current mattress?
  • Do you prefer pillows that are compact, long, or somewhere in between?
  • Do you sleep with your head completely or partially on the pillow?
  • Do you tend to toss and turn or shift positions during the night?
  • Do you sit up in bed to read, work, or watch television?

For determining pillow loft:

  • Do you sleep on your back, stomach, or side?
  • What is your bodyweight?
  • Is your head large and/or heavy, small and/or light, or average-sized?
  • Are your shoulders broad, narrow, or average-sized?
  • What type of mattress do you sleep on?
  • How firm is your current mattress?
  • Do you sleep with your head entirely or partially on the pillow?

For selecting the pillow type:

  • What is your pillow-shopping budget?
  • Do you require pillows that will perform for a certain length of time?
  • Do you experience above-average pain in your neck or shoulders?
  • Do you require a pillow that alleviates pressure?
  • What firmness rating do you prefer?
  • Are you allergic to any materials used in pillows, such as latex or down?
  • Do you tend to sleep hot?
  • Are you willing to hand wash your pillows or have them dry-cleaned, or would you rather have a pillow that is machine washable?
  • Do you require customizable loft?

Additional Tuck Resources