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

Our Research

70
Pillows Considered
100
Hours of Research
4
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Overview

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.

Best Pillows of 2019

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.

Our Top 6 Picks

Best Pillows of 2019 – Reviewed

Editor's Pick – Original Casper Pillow

Editor's Pick – Original Casper Pillow

Highlights

  • 'Medium Soft' feel
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 1-year warranty
  • Pillow-in-pillow design for support and cushion
  • Breathable percale cotton cover
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Editor's Pick Overview

Our Editor’s Pick is the Original Casper Pillow. Instead of down, it features a polyester interior encased in a breathable cotton cover with a crisp percale weave. We found the Casper Pillow offered the same deep, plush feeling of the best down pillows with hypoallergenic materials. The Original Casper has a pillow-in-pillow design. The inner pillow’s crimped microfiber fill interior provides support for the head and neck, while softer fibers in the outer pillow create cushion. The pillow’s 2-inch gussets keep the fill evenly distributed to avoid shifting during the night, ensuring you stay comfortably supported all night long.

Easy washing further extends this pillow’s durability. Simply unzip the cover, and you can remove the inner pillow to wash both in your machine washer and dryer. The design is naturally resistant to clumps, and the Original Casper pillow readily maintains its shape with regular fluffing.

The Original Casper pillow comes in two sizes: Standard and King, and a single “Medium Soft” firmness, making it better for those who prefer a plusher feel.Casper pillows are backed by a generous 100-night sleep trial, 1-year warranty, and free shipping and returns throughout the contiguous U.S. and Canada.

Good for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Asthma and allergy sufferers
  • Those looking for a pillow they can easily clean at home

Best Down Alternative Pillow – Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow

Best Down Alternative Pillow – Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (‘Soft’, ‘Medium’, ‘Firm”)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made vegan-friendly, hypoallergenic materials
  • Ultra-soft 400 thread-count cotton shell
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Best Down Alternative Pillow Overview

The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is our pick for Best Down Alternative Pillow. Down pillows are the premium take on the traditional feather pillow, famous for it’s deep, plus feeling but it is not a great choice for all sleepers. Down alternative pillows use hypoallergenic materials to achieve the same plush sleep experience with a lightweight design. The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow uses a 100% shaved microfiber filling in place of down.

With Brooklinen, sleepers don’t have to worry that their down pillow will be too plush, though. Brooklinen offers their Down Alternative Pillow in three firmness levels: a soft Plush, a medium Mid-Plush, and a true Firm. The pillow is filled with fluffy down clusters and feathers, enclosed within a 100% cotton Sateen shell. Brooklinen creates the different firmness options by adjusting the ratio of clusters to feathers (firmer options have a more robust feather core). While the Plush is the most squeezable of the three options, all of the pillows can be molded and shaped to meet comfort needs.

While you can machine wash and dry the Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow on a low, gentle setting, Brooklinen recommends spot cleaning to maintain the texture of the fill. With regular fluffing, the pillow will retain its shape well and last for years.

Their Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow is backed by a lifetime warranty and the longest sleep trial of any of the pillows on our list, at 365 days. It’s available in both standard and king sizes.

Good for:
  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who prefer the feel of down but are sensitive to down allergens
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Best Down Pillow – Pacific Coast Double DownAround Pillow

Best Down Pillow – Pacific Coast Double DownAround Pillow

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (‘Soft’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Firm’)
  • 30-night trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Hypoallergenic and machine washable
  • Adjustable loft
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Best Down Pillow Overview

Famous for supplying pillows to the world’s leading hotel brands, Pacific Coast knows how to make a crowd-pleasing pillow. Their Double DownAround Pillow comes in three firmness levels (‘Soft’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Firm’) and three sizes (standard, queen, and king), so sleepers can find a pillow that matches both their sleep and bedding preferences.

The Double DownAround Pillow features a pillow-in-pillow construction, with an inner pillow of their proprietary Resilia feathers (so-called for their resilience) and an outer pillow of octuple-washed Hyperclean down with 550 fill power. Together, these pillows create an allergy-free, cushiony sleep experience that’s supportive for the long-term. Depending on the selected firmness level, the pillow also features a gusset that ranges from 1 to 2 inches. The pillow’s down interior makes it highly moldable, so sleepers can shape the pillow to support their neck and shoulders, regardless of their sleep position.

The “Hyperclean” fill of the Double DownAround pillow, paired with its 100% cotton cover, produce no odor and gives the pillow some breathability. The pillow is also completely machine washable and dryable.

The Pacific Coast Double DownAround Pillow is backed by a 30-night sleep trial, and an extensive 3-year warranty (although the pillow should last as long as 4). Orders over $99 ship free.

Good for:
  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Sleepers looking for durability and long-term support
  • Those with fluctuating loft preferences

Best Memory Foam Pillow – Brooklyn Bedding Ventilated Memory Foam Pillow

Best Memory Foam Pillow – Brooklyn Bedding Ventilated Memory Foam Pillow

Highlights

  • 'Firm' feel
  • 30-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Ventilated design promotes airflow
  • Excellent contour and moldability
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Best Memory Foam Pillow Overview

The Brooklyn Bedding Ventilated Memory Foam Pillow wraps a quality memory foam interior within a plush knit cover. This pillow delivers the characteristic hug that memory foam aficionados love. The moldable memory foam responds to the pressure of the sleeper’s head and neck, conforming to provide support as they sink into the pillow’s surface.

One common complaint sleepers have with memory foam is the material’s tendency to retain heat. Brooklyn Bedding addresses this with pin core ventilation, which promotes air flow and helps keep the pillow cool.

The Brooklyn Bedding Ventilated Memory Foam Pillow has a ‘Firm’ feel, and comes in both queen and king sizes. One sneaky feature we love about this pillow’s design is its rounded edges, which mimic the look of traditional feather pillows and fit easier into pillowcases.

The knit cover of the Brooklyn Bedding Ventilated Memory Foam Pillow is washable, but the insert itself is not. Fortunately, memory foam is naturally bacteria- and dust-resistant, so with occasional spot cleaning, the pillow should stay clean and comfortable.

Brooklyn Bedding pillows are backed by a 30-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty. The company offers free shipping and returns for customers throughout the contiguous U.S.

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

Best Latex Pillow – Avocado Pillow

Best Latex Pillow – Avocado Pillow

Highlights

  • ‘Medium-Soft’ feel
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 1-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Non-toxic, vegan, and organic construction
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Best Latex Pillow Overview

The Avocado Pillow offers superb pressure relief for the head and neck, with a design that allows sleepers to customize the loft and firmness to their preferences. The pillow has a ‘Medium-Soft’ feel out-of-the-box, but sleepers can unzip and either remove or add the Kapok fill to soften or firm up the pillow.

The Avocado Pillow also rates well among environmentally-conscious sleepers. The pillow’s eco-friendly construction is totally vegan and non-toxic, with certifications from Greenguard and Vegan Action. The pillow is organic from fill to cover, with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOLS) organic certified shredded latex, ultra-soft Kapok fill, and a cotton cover. The pillow is made by hand in Los Angeles, California.

Thanks to its organic construction, the Avocado Pillow is extremely breathable, and built to last significantly longer than the average pillow. The shredded latex provides contour, while the Kapok fibers soften the surface, so the pillow feels comfortable rather than dense. The Avocado Pillow also sleeps extremely quiet.

The Avocado Pillow can be machine-washed on the cool setting, although spot cleaning is recommended. It can be air-dried, or fluffed in a machine dryer on cool. The pillow is available in standard, queen, and king sizes. Avocado offers free shipping and returns, a 1-year warranty, and 100-night sleep trial.

Good for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers of light and average weight, or heavier-set sleepers who sleep on their back
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Those with fluctuating loft preferences

Best Organic Pillow – PlushBeds Wool Pillow

Best Organic Pillow – PlushBeds Wool Pillow

Highlights

  • Adjustable firmness
  • No sleep trial
  • Made by hand
  • Breathable wool interior
  • Cruelty-free construction
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Best Organic Pillow Overview

Wool pillows offer a distinct sleep experience. They’re soft, durable, and extremely breathable. Wool naturally wicks away moisture, regulating the pillow’s surface temperature and providing sleepers with a cool night’s sleep year round.

The PlushBeds Wool Pillow is no different. Where it stands out among wool pillows, though, is its environmentally-conscious and cruelty-free construction. None of their sheep have been subjected to dipping, mulesing, or other shearing practices that are inhumane and expose the animals to herbicides. The wool itself is also treated sensitively throughout production, and never bleached or chemically treated. As a result, the PlushBeds Wool Pillow is a good fit for eco-minded shoppers and sleepers with sensitive skin alike. The wool’s moisture-wicking abilities make the pillow resistant to mold and dust mites, increasing both its longevity and hypoallergenic potential.

The PlushBeds Wool Pillow is available in standard, queen, and king sizes. Its firmness and loft are both adjustable. Sleepers can unzip the cotton cover and remove the wool fill to better support their head and relieve any neck pain.

PlushBeds offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S. Because each pillow is made by hand, the company does not accept returns or provide a sleep trial.

Good for:
  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who tend to sleep hot and/or cold
  • Animal-conscious shoppers

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Pillow

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.

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.
  • King pillows (like Queens) 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.

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

Pillow Size Common Pillow Dimensions Common Pillowcase Size/Dimensions
Standard 20W" x 26L" Standard (20-21W” x 30-32L")
Super Standard 20W" x 28L" Standard (20-21W” x 30-32L")
Queen 20W" x 30L" Standard (20-21W” x 30-32L") 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 54W" x 20L" 48W" x 20L" Body (dimensions vary)

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

Sleep Position Sleeper Group Low Loft (Less than 3″) Medium Loft (3″ to 5″) High Loft (More than 5″)
Side Less than 130 lbs. Poor Good Very Good
130 to 230 lbs. Poor Very Good Good
More than 230 lbs. 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 Less than 130 lbs. Fair Good Very Good
130 to 230 lbs. Good Very Good Good
More than 230 lbs. 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 Less than 130 lbs. Good Very Good Fair
130 to 230 lbs. Good Good Poor
More than 230 lbs. Good Fair Poor
Large/heavy head Good Very Good Fair
Average head size Very Good Good Fair
Small/light head Good Fair Poor
Broad shoulders Good Very Good Fair
Average shoulder width Very Good Good Fair
Narrow shoulders Good Fair Poor

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/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, making them a good fit for hot sleepers.
  • 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/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.

Water

Like water beds, water pillows are filled with water. These pillows offer sleepers to fully customize their loft by adding or removing water to the pillow’s inner pouch.

Benefits:

  • The loft and firmness can both be adjusted, allowing sleepers to find the most comfortable fill for them.
  • Water pillows are very conforming, providing support and pressure relief for the head and neck.
  • Because the water is insulated in an inner pouch, these pillows prevent heat transfer and stay relatively cool through the night.

Drawbacks:

  • Water pillows are heavier than other pillow types.
  • Adjusting the fill of a water pillow takes some getting used to. It can take sleepers several nights to find the ideal loft and firmness.

Pillow Type Comparison

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

Criteria Buckwheat Pillows Down Pillows Down Alternative Pillows Feather Pillows Latex Pillows Memory Foam Pillows Natural/Organic Pillows Polyester/Polyfoam Pillows Water Pillows
Average Price Range $50 to $75 $70 to $100 $20 to $30 $25 to $50 $40 to $60 $50 to $60 $150+ $10 to $15 $40 to $70
Durability Very Good Very Good Fair Very Good Very Good Good Good Poor Fair to Good
Support Very Good Fair to Good Fair Fair to Good Very Good Very Good Very Good Fair Good to Very Good
Odor Potential Fair to Good Fair to Good Very Good Poor to Fair Fair Poor to Fair Good Very Good Very Good
Temperature Neutrality 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 Good to Very Good
Weight/Ease of Adjustment Poor to Fair Very Good Very Good Good Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good to Very Good Good to Very Good Fair
Maintenance Good Fair Fair Poor to Fair Good Good Fair to Good Poor to Fair Fair
Washable Interior? No No Yes Sometimes No Sometimes No Yes Sometimes
Adjustable Loft? Yes No No No No Sometimes Sometimes No Yes
Availability Limited Wide Limited Limited Limited Wide Limited Wide Limited

Health Conditions and Pillows

Some pillows are better than others for particular health conditions, like chronic pain or allergies. Like your mattress, your pillow can either alleviate, or add to, your discomfort. If you have one of the following health conditions, keep an eye out for pillows that can improve your sleep quality:

  • Allergies: Many pillows are available in hypoallergenic versions. These have been specially treated and pre-washed to prevent buildup of bacteria, dust mites, mold, and other allergens. To breathe easier at night, go for naturally hypoallergenic organic and latex pillows. A pillow that can be easily washed is also helpful here.
  • Heat: If you tend to sleep hot, look for pillows optimized for breathability. These may include specialized cooling fabrics and materials, like Tencel fibers or gel. Organic and natural materials, including latex, cotton, and down, also offer good airflow and temperature regulation.
  • Pain: Sleepers with chronic pain, especially pain in the neck or shoulders, need a pillow optimized for support and pressure relief. Look for pillows with high conforming ability, like memory foam, latex, and buckwheat.

Pillow Warranties and Trial Periods

Just like a mattress, it takes time to get used to sleeping on a new pillow. Some manufacturers include a sleep trial precisely for this reason. Shoppers can purchase the pillow and return it either completely for free, or less the cost of shipping. If you’re trying out a new type of a pillow, or not sure you’ll like it for some other reason, make sure the manufacturer offers a trial period of at least 30 nights. That’s sufficient time for you to decide.

Pillow warranties are also something to brush up on before you buy. These typically only cover manufacturer defects, but can last anywhere from one year to a lifetime.

Pillow Care Instructions

Regular care and cleaning can extend your pillow’s lifespan. Longer lifespans are beneficial for all sleepers, but being able to easily clean your pillow is especially important for sleepers with allergies.

Review the pillow’s care instructions. Down and feather pillows need to be fluffed to maintain their shape and loft. As for washing, most pillowcases are machine-washable, but the pillow insert may not be. Some can be machine washed and dried, while others need to be cleaned only on a low setting, in a front-loading washer, or air-dried. Other pillows are dry clean or spot clean only.

When to Replace Your Pillow

Most pillows need replacing every few years. Is it time for you to replace your pillow? Look for the following signs:

  • Do you see any clumps, lumps, or bumps? These may appear as clumps of shredded filler, or feathers poking out of the case. Memory foam may develop a dent from your head or neck. If you notice any of these issues, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Does your pillow smell? Pillows can develop an odor if they’re not regularly cleaned or naturally odor-resistant. If the odor persists after cleaning, you need a new pillow.
  • Can your pillow still hold its shape well? If you have a fiberfill or down pillow, fold it in half. If it springs back, that’s great. If it stays folded over, it needs to be replaced.
  • Do you wake up with aches and pains? When a pillow breaks down, it loses its supportability, often resulting in neck or shoulder pain.
  • Are you getting a new type of mattress? If you’re changing your mattress type, your pillow may no longer adequately support spinal alignment.

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?
  • Do you require customizable loft?

Other questions to consider:

  • Is there a sleep trial?
  • Can the pillow be machine washed?
  • If not, are you comfortable with the cleaning instructions?
  • What’s covered under the pillow warranty?
  • Does the company offer free shipping?
  • How does the returns process work?

For more information about choosing the right pillow, please visit the following guides on Tuck.com.

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