Best Pillows

Updated July 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
14 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
160 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pillows

Did you know that a pillow is one of the most important sleeping accessories you own? The right pillow not only supports your head and neck, but it helps maintain proper alignment of your spine while you sleep. Knowing that, it's easy to see why just any pillow isn't good enough. For a healthy sleep, you need the best.

You need a pillow that is properly sized for your bed and your preferred sleeping position — side sleepers, for instance, need firmer pillows than others. If you have allergies, you do not want a pillow filled with material that causes a reaction. An antimicrobial pillow can reduce unpleasantries like bacteria, making it a desirable option.

For more information on materials, cost, tips on when to replace your pillow, and a look at pillows that are designed for specific sleeping conditions, keep reading. If you're all set to purchase, consider one of the highly recommended options that we've listed.

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Sleeping on the appropriate pillow can help prevent and alleviate back and neck pain.

Is it time to replace your pillow?

Pillows don't last forever, but quality pillows can last a decent amount of time. That said, it's important to know when it's time to replace a pillow.

Discoloration

People lose an average of one pint of sweat per night. Some of that sweat inevitably seeps into your pillow. A discolored pillow is an indicator that it's probably harboring a fair amount of bacteria. If your pillow is discolored, it's time to get a new one.

A flat or lumpy pillow

If your pillow has flattened and won’t plump back up, or if you can feel lumps in the filling, throw it out and get a new one.

"The easiest way to get pillowcases that match the hue or design of your sheets — and the size of your bed — is to buy them in a set. Yes, pillowcases are sold separately, but it may be more difficult to match the pattern and material of said pillowcases to your existing bedding."
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Testing pillows
We spent eight hours researching 64 different pillows before purchasing our fave and testing its comfort and fill in the BestReviews lab.
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Back or neck pain

Waking up with back or neck pain can be a sign that your spine isn't properly aligned while you sleep. Your pillow is a likely culprit. If you wake up with back or neck pain, it’s time to get a new pillow.

Runny/stuffy nose

If you wake up with a wheeze or nasal congestion, it's time to get a new pillow. Barring any other health issues, these signs point to a possible allergic reaction to the dust mites living in your pillow.

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Did you know?
Many people place sole responsibility for their quality of sleep on their mattress. But don’t underestimate the power of a good pillow.
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Importance of choosing the right pillow

Now that you know when to get a new pillow, you might be wondering why it's so important to choose the right one.

The pillow you use affects your spinal alignment when you’re snoozing. Consider the fact that most people spend roughly one-third of their lives asleep. It follows, then, that your nighttime posture affects your wellbeing during the day.

Choosing the correct pillow will help keep your spine in proper alignment when you sleep. The result: more hours of uninterrupted rest and fewer, if any, back and neck aches in the morning. (This is assuming that you don’t have any other issues, of course.)

"Some pillows include phase-change material (PCM) beads in its filling. These beads react to their surrounding temperature in an 'opposite' manner. During times of high heat, they absorb heat. In colder temperatures, they release heat."
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Considerations

Filling

Pillows come with a variety of fillings. Here, we review some of the most common fillings so you can decide which is best for you:

  • Hollowfiber is a form of polyester that is robust yet lightweight. Manufacturers use it to create pillows of all firmnesses; the denser the filling, the firmer the pillow. It's generally considered to be hypoallergenic and can even be treated so it's antimicrobial.
  • Microfiber pillows are synthetic, just as hollowfiber pillows are. However, the fibers are much finer. A microfiber pillow can’t get much firmer than “medium” density (unless the fibers are combined with hollowfiber). They’re hypoallergenic and sometimes antimicrobial. Microfiber pillows “feel” more like down than any other type of synthetic pillow.
  • Feather and down pillows are highly traditional, but they have fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years. Some people find them too outdated; others worry about the ethical implications of using animal products in pillows. Feather pillows are extremely soft. Down pillows and feather/down mixes are firmer, but they also tend to cost a lot more.
  • Memory foam pillows, like the Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow, mould to the contours of your head and neck and are extremely supportive. This newer technology is seen as the gold standard of pillows in most circles. Memory foam pillows are durable, long-lasting, and hypoallergenic. However, they do tend toward the firm side, so they might not be suitable for everyone.

Size

The majority of pillows are sold in one of three sizes: standard (20 by 26 inches), queen (20 by 30 inches), and king (20 by 36 inches). The right size for you depends on the size of your bed.

Some pillows are sold in non-standard sizes. Finding pillowcases for these products could prove to be more difficult.

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For your safety
Pillows flatten and attract bacteria over time. Whether you notice problems or not, it’s wise to replace them regularly.
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Firmness and sleeping position

Some people think that pillow firmness should be all about personal preference. But really, the degree of firmness that’s best for you depends on how you sleep. Take these guidelines into account when choosing between a soft, medium, or firm pillow:

  • If you sleep on your front, a soft pillow is best. Your head needn’t be raised very much in this position, so a soft or flat pillow will do the trick. We recommend a soft microfiber pillow.
  • If you sleep on your back, a medium pillow is best. This helps maintain the natural curve of your spine by supporting your head without pushing it too far forward. The Perfect Fit Quilted Sidewall Pillow offers a nice medium-density option.
  • If you sleep on your side, a firm pillow is best. Side sleepers need plenty of height to support their head and neck in the proper alignment. A firm memory foam or hollowfiber pillow should do the job.
  • If you're a "mixed sleeper," a medium pillow is best. Anyone who changes positions throughout the night should find a “happy medium” with a pillow of medium firmness.

Thread count

If you want your pillow’s outer covering to be soft and luxurious, look for a product with a high thread count. The Serta Perfect Sleeper has a decent 300 thread count that yields good quality without breaking the bank.

That said, most people focus more on the thread count of their pillowcase than the thread count of the pillow inside it. It may be more practical to spend your money on bedding with a high thread count than pillows with a high thread count.

How much should you pay for a pillow?

There's no right or wrong price to pay for a pillow. You’ll find a product out there for every budget.

Some of the most expensive memory foam or down pillows can cost in excess of $60 for just one pillow. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find packs of two pillows for less than $10.

If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road solution, $30 will get you a very respectable two-pack of pillows that should keep you comfortable and your spine well-aligned.

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When it comes to pillows, you tend to get what you pay for in terms of comfort and durability. That said, you needn’t go to the very top of the line to get a decent one.

FAQ

These are some of the most frequently asked questions in the world of pillows:

Q. What is the best pillow filling?

A. There isn't a single best pillow filling; what works for you depends on your needs and preferences. If you're not sure what your preferred filling is, it can take some trial and error to get it right. If in doubt, hollowfiber pillows are generally comfortable, affordable all-rounders. However, they won't necessarily be right for everyone.

Q. How often should you replace your pillow?

A. There's no hard and fast answer to this question. If your pillows are stained or lumpy, or you wake up with a sore back or neck, it's probably time to get some new pillows. Even if you don’t note these problems, it’s smart to replace hollowfiber pillows every six months to a year. High-quality memory foam pillows should be replaced every three to four years.

Q. Should you get an antimicrobial pillow?

A. While they’re not essential, antimicrobial pillows reduce the amount of bacteria and other nasties that build up in your pillow. If you have a compromised immune system or are particularly concerned about bacteria, an antimicrobial pillow affords you some peace of mind.

Q. Are there any specialist pillows to help with specific issues?

A. Yes. If you suffer a particular issue or condition, certain pillows could be more suitable for you. For instance, if you suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux, you can get a wedge pillow to help you maintain a near-upright position during sleep. If you experience severe neck pain, you may wish to consider an orthopedic pillow for neck support.

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