- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
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 2019
Editor’s Pick – Coop Home Goods Eden
Best Down Pillow – Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow
Best Memory Foam Pillow – Layla Pillow
Best Foam Pillow – Tuft & Needle Pillow
Best Latex Pillow – Saatva Pillow
Best Buckwheat Pillow – Hullo
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 too; poor shape recovery is 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.
The term ‘down pillow’ refers to any pillow made with down, the soft inner plumage of geese or ducks; these pillows may also contain goose or duck outer feathers, which are coarser and provide more support. Many sleepers find that down pillows are exceptionally soft – too soft, in some cases. Our pick for this category, the Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow, is firmer than most competing models. The pillow is constructed with a down center and feathers lining the perimeter. The result is a balanced ‘Medium’ feel that most sleepers won’t find excessively soft.
The pillow is encased in a high-quality 400-TC cotton shell, which is very breathable. Double-stitched edges also make the pillow more durable and help it withstand tearing and other forms of wear and tear. Though down products have been the subject of criticism due to historically inhumane practices, Brooklinen ensures the down in their pillows and other products is responsibly and ethically sourced. The pillow is backed by a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are much longer than average.
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.
For the purposes of this guide, a ‘foam pillow’ is any model made from foam material that is not considered memory foam. Our pick for this category is the Tuft & Needle Pillow, a relatively new model made from the same adaptive polyfoam material as the brand’s best-selling mattresses. The pillow’s foam core is ventilated and infused with charcoal to provide a cooling sleep experience; comparatively, many of the Tuft & Needle Pillow’s polyfoam-based competitors sleep excessively hot.
Shape retention is another key strength of the Tuft & Needle Pillow, which will not flatten prematurely and does not require any fluffing. The pillow also comes with an exceptionally soft cover that can be removed and cleaned in a conventional washer and dryer. It is available in Standard and King sizes.
Tuft & Needle offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.
Latex pillows offer many of the same benefits as latex mattresses, such as close, even conforming, great temperature neutrality, and longer-than-average product lifespans. The Saatva Pillow, our pick for Best Latex Pillow, exemplifies all of these attributes. The pillow contains a shredded Talalay latex core that molds to the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders and alleviates a high level of aches and pains. A middle layer of organic cotton and microdenier provides extra cushioning and sleeper support.
The Saatva Pillow also sleeps very cool due to good air circulation through the shredded latex core, as well as the breathable, machine-washable cover made of 100% cotton. The expected lifespan of the Saatva Pillow is at least three years.
The Saatva Pillow is available in Queen and King sizes; price-points for the pillow are somewhat high (as is typically the case for latex models). Saatva provides free shipping for customers anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 45-night sleep trial.
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.
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.
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 Size||Dimensions||Pillow Case Size and Dimensions|
|Standard||20W” x 26L”||Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)|
|Super Standard||20W” x 28L”||Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)|
|Queen||20W” x 30L”||Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)
Queen (20-22W” x 30-34L”)
|King||20W” x 36L”||King (20-21W” x 36-41″L)|
|Euro||26W” x 26L”
24W” x 24L”
22W” x 22L”
20W” x 20L”
18W” x 18L”
16W” x 16L”
|Euro (dimensions vary)|
|Body Pillow||54W” x 20L”
48W” x 20L”
|Body pillow (dimensions vary)|
Pillow size often comes down to personal preference, as well as mattress size.
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:
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:
The following table looks at suitable loft options for different sleepers, based on the criteria described above.
|Sleep Position||Criteria||Low Loft (Less than 3 in.)||Medium Loft (3 to 5 in.)||High Loft (More than 5 in.)|
|Side Sleeping||Below-average Weight||Poor||Good||Very Good|
|Average Weight||Poor||Very Good||Good|
|Above-average Weight||Fair||Very Good||Good|
|Large/Heavy Head||Poor||Fair||Very Good|
|Average Head Size||Fair||Very Good||Very Good|
|Small/Light Head||Fair||Very Good||Good|
|Broad Shoulders||Poor||Good||Very Good|
|Average Shoulder Width||Fair||Very Good||Very Good|
|Narrow Shoulders||Fair||Very Good||Good|
|Back Sleeping||Below-average Weight||Fair||Good||Very Good|
|Average Weight||Good||Very Good||Good|
|Above-average Weight||Very Good||Good||Fair|
|Large/Heavy Head||Fair||Good||Very Good|
|Average Head Size||Good||Very Good||Good|
|Small/Light Head||Very Good||Good||Fair|
|Broad Shoulders||Fair||Very Good||Very Good|
|Average Shoulder Width||Good||Very Good||Good|
|Narrow Shoulders||Very Good||Good||Good|
|Stomach Sleeping||Below-average Weight||Good||Very Good||Fair|
|Large/Heavy Head||Good||Very Good||Fair|
|Average Head||Very Good||Good||Fair|
|Broad Shoulders||Good||Very Good||Fair|
|Average Shoulder Width||Very Good||Good||Fair|
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The data table below compares the various qualities of all pillow types discussed above.
|Criteria||Buckwheat||Down||Down Alternative||Feather||Latex||Memory Foam||Natural and Organic||Polyester|
|Average Price||$50 to $75||$70 to $100||$20 to $30||$25 to $50||$40 to $60||$50 to $60||$150+||$10 to $15|
|Durability||Very Good||Very Good||Fair||Very Good||Very Good||Good||Good||Poor|
|Support||Very Good||Fair to Good||Fair||Fair to Good||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good||Fair|
|Odor||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Very Good||Poor to Fair||Fair||Poor to Fair||Good||Very Good|
|Body Heat Retention||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good|
|Lightweight||Poor to Fair||Very Good||Very Good||Good||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good|
|Maintenance||Good||Fair||Fair||Poor to Fair||Good||Good||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair|
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:
For determining pillow loft:
For selecting the pillow type: