At Reviewed, we love sleep. It’s important to us that we rest well each night, and we want you to be able to do the same. That’s why we take testing and finding the best bed pillows seriously, testing over a dozen (some more than once) to find the best pillow no matter how you curl up: side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers. After several months of testing, a handful of pillows and pillow brands stood out from the pile for not one, but two, and even all three sleep positions.
Our favorite pillows are from Coop Home Goods(available at Amazon) for one simple reason: They’re filled with lofty-yet-soft shredded foam and you can add or subtract the amount of stuffing to suit your preferences and spine-alignment needs. For anyone searching for sleep support on a budget, the Beckham Hotel Gel Pillow 2-Pack(available at Amazon) is our pick for a great value. Plus, we have recs for those who want a down pillow, a memory-foam pillow, and more.
Here are the best pillows we tested ranked, in order:
Coop Home Goods
Original Casper Pillow
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
AmazonBasics Down Alternative Pillows
Tuft & Needle Original Pillow
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Dual Breeze
Beckham Hotel Gel Pillow
Nectar Memory Foam Pillow
Target Room Essentials
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
After a battery of tests, we determined the best pillows for most sleepers are made by Coop Home Goods. Both models we tested, the Original and Eden, ranked as top picks in our three position-specific reviews. Coop Home Goods pillows are stuffed with shredded memory foam, which has a similar plush feel to down or down-alternative fills, but its amount can be added or removed for a customized loft and feel. We tested other adjustable pillows, but these from Coop Home Goods outpaced them in comfort as well as in their relative lack of chemical smell, an issue for foam bedding in general. Getting the fill level just right may be a chore at first—our testers fussed with it over the course of several nights—but after that, the pillows are a dream.
Coop Home Goods pillows are covered in a bamboo fabric that’s super soft, which our testers appreciated, even though they encased them with zippered pillow protectors (a good practice for hygiene for any pillow). The Original pillow is an excellent choice for side and back sleeping, because it provides the right amount of support, and anyone who prefers a softer or less-lofty feel can remove filling. Those seeking an even softer pillow, particularly stomach sleepers, should look to the Coop Home Goods Eden, which has a softer texture and the same adjustability, in terms of removing fill.
Coop Home Goods pillows are fully machine-washable—both the covers and the internal, zippered, foam-filled bag. In our testing, they emerged from the laundry no worse for wear though damp, so you’ll need multiple dryer cycles to get them ready to sleep on. The company recommends washing the foam only once a year anyway, which, again, is why using pillow protectors is the best practice. Both pillows come with an extra half-pound bag of stuffing in addition to what’s in the pillow itself, which may be enough to save and completely swap out the contents down the line—for folks who prefer less stuffing, it could mean two pillows for the price of one.
Coop Home Goods also offers a generous 100-night sleep trial, so you have plenty of time to tinker with the fill level and decide if their pillows are truly the best fit for you.
The Beckham Hotel Pillows come in a package of two, at a price that’s lower than that of many individual pillows we tested. They offer greater support for side sleepers—who account for half or more of people—than other affordable pillows we tested, and are far fluffier. Their fill lends a feeling and texture that’s much more similar to down, as opposed to the quilt-batting sensation of other synthetic-fill pillows we tried. Also, unlike some others, the Beckham Hotel pillows didn’t show signs of wear from testing: The covers didn’t crinkle or pucker from the heated blanket, the fill bounced back nicely after being weighted overnight, and the entire pillow came out of the laundry unscathed. We think these attributes make them the best budget choice for outfitting a guest room, for filling pillow shams as extra decor, or for folks who prefer to replace their pillows more regularly.
A few quibbles, particularly if you plan to use these pillows yourself night after night: Our side sleeper, whose frame is on the narrow side, thought the Beckham Hotel pillow aligned her head, neck, and shoulder just fine, but she worried folks with broader shoulders might be left unsupported and misaligned. Stomach sleepers and many back sleepers will likely feel overly propped up by the mid-level loft. (See “Other Pillows We Tested” below for alternative options.)
The Beckham Hotel pillows are covered by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you try them and aren’t happy, you should contact the company for a full refund.
Didn't smell after opening
May not provide sufficient loft for some side sleepers
For devotees of the classic natural-feather filling, look no further than the Brooklinen Down Pillow. It comes in three densities, each designed to cater to a different sleep position, as the head, neck, and shoulders have different needs in terms of support. The firm pillow is best for side sleepers, the mid-plush is intended for back sleepers, and the plush is best for stomach sleepers.
In our side-sleeping and stomach-sleeping tests, our tester (admittedly, the same person), selected the firm and plush Brooklinen pillows, respectively, as her absolute favorites of all tested. (Also important: She's spent her whole life sleeping on down.) The firm pillow cradled and supported the head and neck with its dense loft, which has far less squish (in a good way) than you might assume a down pillow would have. On the flip side, the plush pillow felt like a thin, puffy cloud when used for stomach sleeping. Back sleepers, however, may not be as thrilled with the mid-plush offering—our tester’s head sunk through it within hours. That said, down isn’t the recommended fill for holding the head and neck in alignment when lying supine anyway.
Other considerations before selecting down: On top of generally being pricier, this fill material is often dry-clean only, and Brooklinen’s pillows are no exception. The surface can be spot-cleaned, but you can’t throw the whole thing in the wash like many synthetic-fill pillows we tested. For what it's worth, Brooklinen's pillows are treated with “antimicrobials,” to help inhibit the growth of bacteria. Down and down alternative face one mutual challenge: They may have a decreased ability to spring back over time, or even during the night as our back sleeper noted, as the feathers compress with regular use and repeated pressure in the same place (one of the main reasons back sleepers and side sleepers may be better off opting for another fill). The Brooklinen pillows didn’t show any immediate signs of that, though, as they readily sprung back from our nights of sleeping as well as in our weighted-pressure lab test.
If you buy a Brooklinen Pillow and don’t love it, the company has your back with a generous 365-day return window, regardless of the pillow’s condition and or your reason for returning it.
The Original Casper Pillow is made with down-alternative fill but provides a similar sensation to down without compromising on supportiveness and loft. The pillow is filled with polyester microfiber and is constructed in two pieces—it’s quite literally a pillow within a pillow. The idea is to give you the best of both worlds with regard to support and softness. The inner pillow is a densely packed core that provides structure, whereas the outer shell is more fluffy and lends the surface a cushion-y, softer texture that’s welcoming to rest your head on.
The thickness of this pillow makes it a great choice for side sleepers. The pillow performed well for stomach sleepers, too, but with one major caveat: Our tester used it as two separate units, not the package deal as it’s designed to be used. She loved sleeping on just the inner core, which had enough structure to support her neck but was sufficiently flat that it didn’t push her head up and away from the mattress. Unfortunately, the Casper pillow didn’t hit a happy medium for back sleeping: Our tester found that with both components, it was too thick, and with just the inner core, it was too thin. Nonetheless, we think this pillow will meet the needs of the vast majority of folks looking for a great down-alternative option.
The jury’s still out on whether down or down-alternative fill is best for people who suffer allergies (see “What to Know About Choosing Pillows,” below). That's why experts say that being able to wash a pillow is the best way to clear out allergens. The Casper pillow’s construction makes it even easier to launder than other pillows we tested. The outer shell can be washed separately from the inner core—and as the core is already buffered by the outer layer, it may need less washing. You can also machine-wash the entire pillow, though the company notes you should remove the core from the outer section even if you run both pieces in the same load. According to a customer-service representative, you should cap washing the pillow at twice per year, for durability and to maintain the fill’s integrity. Nonetheless, the representative imagined overzealous washers would only start having issues from excessive laundering around year four—well beyond a pillow’s suggested lifespan. The pillow's case is made with a tight percale weave, likely 300 thread count according to the company rep, which may make it better at blocking out allergens.
If you want to put it to the test yourself, Casper offers a 100-night sleep trial.
I’m Lindsey Vickers, the sleep writer here at Reviewed. I cover everything from meditation apps to resort-like bed sheets. I’m a hybrid sleeper and alternate between side and stomach sleeping depending on the day, so I was excited to test pillows for each of those positions.
But of course, we couldn’t neglect back sleepers, so we recruited Sarah Hagman, an editor here at Reviewed and self-proclaimed “reformed side sleeper,” to test our picks for back sleeping. She started sleeping on her back after a shoulder injury, and hasn’t looked back since, making her the perfect person to find the best pillow for the position.
For several months we had a rotating cast of pillows in and out of our homes and bedrooms—occasionally the same one, encased in a protective cover for hygiene, should the manufacturer claim it suited for more than one sleep position. We slept on each pillow for at least two nights, and considered fundamental questions, including whether the pillow was comfortable and sufficiently supportive from the moment our heads touched down on the fluff until our morning alarms went off; how customizable it was (and if the process of removing layers or stuffing was easy); if it got hot overnight; how well the pillow’s performance matched company claims; whether the fill felt lumpy and if the lumps could be smoothed away ... you get the idea.
Afterward, the pillows were sent to their final destination, our lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts where senior scientist Julia MacDougall put them through the wringer. She tested them for heat retention with temperature sensors and a heated blanket; weighted them down overnight to check how well the material responded and sprung back the next day; and washed them (if machine-washable, and per label instructions), to see if they lost shape or loft, shrunk, or the filling clumped.
What You Should Know About Pillows
Pillows are perhaps the second most important piece of bedding after your mattress, even though they should have a much higher rate of turnover. In fact, you should replace your pillow every one to two years, says John McKeon, CEO of Allergy Standards Limited and spokesperson for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Some pillow companies offer as long as 10-year warranties, which is a nice vote of confidence in their products, but even a 5-year warranty will amply cover a pillow's recommended lifespan.
For your comfort throughout the night and in your waking hours, there’s one thing that should be front of mind when shopping for a pillow: spinal alignment. While we sleep, the position of our head and neck can put our spine out of alignment, which prevents muscles from relaxing and recovering overnight. Spinal alignment is hard to define, and even harder to visualize for yourself. What experts suggest is thinking about your posture when you stand. In a standing position, your ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle should be vertically aligned in profile view. You want to maintain the alignment and natural slight “S”-like curvature of the spine and have neck support as you sleep.
While some pillows are marketed for all sleep positions, it often isn’t true because each position has unique needs when it comes to support. Side sleepers need “firm” pillows, which are taller and denser to prevent their neck from drooping down, but they shouldn’t be so thick and dense that they push the neck and head up. Stomach sleepers, in contrast, want to look for thin pillows that are soft and have ample give, because craning the head upward can trigger neck pain. These pillows are often marked as “plush.” Back sleepers need something in the middle ground, to cradle their neck and head without letting it loll back or causing their chin to jut forward. These pillows may be labeled “medium density” or “mid-plush.”
When shopping for somewhere to rest your head, it’s important to consider the materials, shape, and construction. But what are the benefits, differences, and downsides of various materials and constructions? Here’s what you need to know about pillows.
Pillow Fill, Material, and Construction
Different pillow fills have unique and distinct benefits and create different sensations when they cradle your head as you rest.
Down fill has long dominated the pillow industry as it can lend a plush surface that is responsive to pressure. It may be less durable over time because the delicate feathers become permanently compressed—generally after a year or so of use. Down pillows also frequently fall on the pricier side. The feathers are less structured than foam and shredded foam fills, which can leave side sleepers’ head and neck unsupported. For back sleepers, this is less of a concern, though too-lightly-packed down may displace overnight and leave their heads with no support come morning. For stomach sleepers, some of whom can get by without a pillow at all, it’s a non-issue and can be a selling point. Down pillows are usually dry-clean-only, making their care potentially bothersome.
Down-alternative fill is generally made from polyester or a rayon-polyester blend. Pillows with this filling aim to replicate the feel of a down pillow, often with a lower price tag. While down-alternative products were thought to be better for people with allergies, research has shown that they may actually trap more allergens than down bedding, McKeon says, though further research is needed. One possible explanation for greater allergen accumulation is manufacturers using looser weave encasements. Traditional down pillows are often encased in tightly woven fabric to prevent the feathers from escaping, which also helps buffer the fill from allergens. In any case, using an allergy-protective encasement can help, as does regular washing of covers and pillows, which are generally machine-washable.
Solid foam pillows are made with one thick piece of foam, or several layers of it fused together. Sometimes they take the form of a giant sponge, other times they’re contoured and look like a “B” rotated onto its back. These pillows tend to have more longevity than down and down alternative, as the foam won’t compress over time. In our testing, solid-foam pillows often emitted a chemical odor for the first few days after being opened—likely due to off-gassing of the foam itself. Once the air is clear, foam can be a great material for side sleepers and some back sleepers, as it provides support and shape but still offers some give. The same qualities are also what make this pillow material a poor choice for stomach-sleeping.
Shredded foam feels more like a down or down-alternative pillow, as opposed to pillows made of solid foam. These pillows often come super stuffed and with extra fill so sleepers can add or take away fill until they find their perfect loft and feel. For that reason, these pillows can serve all positions and will appeal to a wider audience. Plus, shredded foam may be less likely to compress over time than down and down alternative.
Gussets, or the rectangular panels that are sewn around the perimeter of a pillow, are a feature side sleepers in particular may want to consider. This construction provides additional loft and support for side sleepers’ necks, and may better fill the space between their ear, neck, shoulder, and the bed. Stomach and back sleepers, more often than not, are better off avoiding them, as they tend to make pillows too lofty.
Adjustable or customizable pillows, which offer the option to remove shredded foam stuffing, layers of padding, or other types of fill, are a great way to ensure you get just the right fit and feel.
Temperature and Pillows
Your room’s temperature is a major factor in your sleep quality. In fact, there’s more substantial evidence supporting its role in quality rest than avoiding blue light before bed. The right pillow can help keep your head cool and make a tremendous difference in your overall sleep. In studies, cooling caps have even helped insomniacs doze off, so if you run hot, prioritizing a pillow you can chill with may improve your sleep.
For the most part, the pillows we tested generally didn’t retain heat, regardless of claims the companies made (or didn't make) about cooling properties and features. The exception: Our side sleeper immediately noticed the cooling feel of the Tempur-Cloud Dual Breeze in her home sleep tests, and our lab testing confirmed it diffused heat noticeably faster than the other pillows we tested (read more in "Other Pillows We Tested," below).
Other Pillows We Tested
The Tempur-Cloud is made from solid memory foam and won’t disappoint fans of that material—you can feel the pillow slowly mold to your head as you settle down to rest. That’s not to say this is a soft pillow. In fact, our back-sleeping tester said it skews toward being firm—and it was among her favorites. She found the pillow just thick enough to provide support, but not so lofty that it pushed her chin or head up. In fact, the pillow has a low profile and is far thinner than many of the others we tested. This makes it well-suited to side sleepers with small frames, but our stomach sleeper still found it pushed her head up at an uncomfortable angle. (Even though the company says it works for this position, we’d recommend against it.)
The pillow has a couple minor downsides. The foam is wrapped in a removable, machine-washable cover, but the foam itself can only be spot-cleaned. In addition, it retained a little heat in lab testing. Also, Tempur-Pedic’s return policy for pillows is unforgiving—the pillow is yours after you’ve used it.
The Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow was previously a top pillow pick, but in our revamped recent testing, it didn’t perform as well. The pillow is similar to the Coop Home Goods Original and Eden, with one major flaw: its smell. We received two samples of this pillow, and both our testers noted just how noxious it was. Unlike most of the foam pillows we tested, this took days to air out.
Other than that, it performed comparably to the Coop pillows in terms of comfort in all sleep positions, thanks to its adjustability. But our testers found that the shredded-foam fill in this pillow harder to wrangle, as some of the bits were no bigger than a grain of rice. We weren’t able to confirm the company’s return and warranty policy, which isn’t promising for folks who find it doesn’t work for them.
While testing pillows, we found that you get what you pay for. The AmazonBasics pillows are great for what they are, but they’re not as supportive as our top picks, don’t offer options for customizing fill, and in lab testing, retained some heat. But what they bring to the table is a relatively low price that may make them worthwhile for certain scenarios—they're a fine option for folks who don't use pillows all the time, who prefer to replace pillows more frequently, and for use in guest rooms or as fillings for decorative pillows.
The AmazonBasics pillows come in two densities: soft and firm. They’re filled with a polyester down alternative, but both our testers remarked they felt more like quilt batting than the puffy light sensation you’d want from something that’s supposed to mimic feathers. The soft version fared fine for stomach sleeping, but our back sleeper was less impressed because it collapsed under her head, and didn’t provide sufficient support. Our side sleeper worried the firm version won’t be lofty enough to provide sufficient support to fill the space between the mattress and head for most side sleepers.
The pillows adhere to Amazon’s standard 30-day return policy, and a customer-service representative said the pillows can be returned even if the package is open, and regardless of condition.
Our side sleeper tester found the Tuft & Needle solid-foam pillow to be supportive with a nice surface springiness, at a good height for many side sleepers, even though it was a skosh too tall for her preference. (It goes without saying that most stomach and back sleepers will find it too thick.)
The pillow is encased in a washable, microfiber cover, but the foam insert can't be laundered. Microfiber covers tend to be tightly woven, which can provide extra protection for allergy sufferers, another added bonus of this pillow. (Though there's never harm in covering it with another encasement to be extra hygienic.)
Tuft & Needle offers a substantial 100-night trial if purchased from its site, or 30 days if bought through Amazon.
Though many of the pillows we tested claimed to have cooling properties, this was the only one that came through in the end. The pillow is made with a single piece of Tempur foam and infused with a cooling gel on both sides. We can’t pin down exactly what that is—but if it works, it works. And our tester said this pillow really works. She thinks the pillow is a dream for hot sleepers.
But being cool comes at a cost. The Tempur-Cloud Dual Breeze is one of the most expensive pillows we tested. For people who wake up sweating and struggle to keep their temperature down at night, this pillow could be life-changing and worth the price—but for anyone who doesn’t, we’d say pass, especially if you sleep on your back or stomach, as it’s too thick and firm for spinal alignment in those positions.
The cooling pillow has a thin removable cotton cover, but the foam itself is spot clean only, leaving limited options for keeping it clean. The other major downside of all Tempur-Pedic pillows is the unforgiving return policy. Unlike most companies, which offer a trial period, Tempur-Pedic won’t take opened and used items back—you can’t sleep on it to decide.
The Nectar pillow, which has a gusset that makes it, in theory, best for side sleepers, didn’t dazzle our tester. Like our top pick, it’s a shredded-foam fill pillow that may be adjusted for loft and texture. Compared to other similar pillows we tested, the Nectar arrived less stuffed straight from the package (though it was still firm), and it lacked additional filling for anyone who prefers a pillow that’s brimming at the seams, extra-thick and ultra-firm. It also isn’t fully washable—the removable cover can be machine-washed, but the insert holding the shredded foam can only be spot-cleaned.
The Nectar pillow has a 50-night trial period, giving you plenty of time to tinker with stuffing levels and decide whether it’s the best fit for you.
In all three position tests, our testers found the MyPillow Giza Elegance inadequate in terms of the support. The only position that it kind of worked for was stomach sleeping—and that’s because some stomach sleepers, like our tester, can get by with no pillow at all. The filling was poorly distributed and compressed super easily. We feel that this won’t be satisfying or sufficient for most people.
Nonetheless, the pillow has a couple upsides. It was among the least odorous foam-filled pillows we tested. MyPillow offers a 30-night trial, but customers are saddled with a $9.99 return shipping cost if they decide it doesn’t rise to the occasion.
The Purple Pillow is the company’s original model, made of the signature latex grid that is, yes, purple in color. The pillow comes with one larger piece of grid that is bolstered by two thinner (and also purple) foam sheets that can be removed so sleepers can adjust it to reach their optimal height—though it’s less customizable than shredded-foam pillows. Our stomach sleeper and back sleeper testers found that, even without the boosters, the pillow was too tall and forced their necks upward into an uncomfortable position. Nonetheless, one Reviewed staff member (who generally prefers side sleeping) swears by the pillow.
The pillow didn’t smell, which is a plus, and the cover is machine-washable. Even the interior cushion can be washed with warm water and gentle soap.
If it piques your interest, the pillow has a 100-night sleep trial.
The Target Room Essentials Pillow was good for what it was—a low-priced, comfortable pillow. Our side-sleeping tester found it sufficiently supportive, but had reservations about the pillow’s longevity. In lab testing, the pillow took far longer than others to spring back to its original shape and fluffiness after being weighed down overnight. The fabric case also showed some signs of puckering following the heat test, a unique issue that we didn’t see with any of the other pillows we tested.
If you need something for temporary use or to serve as a fill for decorative pillows, this has a budget price and may be your best choice. The pillow falls under Target's standard 90-day return policy, but needs to be in unopened condition. It's a low-wager bet, but a bet nonetheless.
The Purple Harmony suffers the same problem as the Purple Pillow: It’s just too thick. This pillow, which is designed with side sleepers in mind, and has a latex core sandwiched between two layers of Purple’s honeycomb grid. But unlike the customizable layers of the Original, there’s no way to change its loft if you find it pushing your head up—our side-sleeping tester’s biggest complaint. She thought the pillow might accommodate people with very broad shoulders, or those who prefer to rest their head on something thick and very firm—but in the end, it wasn’t versatile or comfortable enough to perform better. Back and stomach sleepers should definitely avoid this one.
The company offers a 100-night sleep trial, so if you’re tempted by the color and design, you’ll be covered to give it a go.
Lindsey writes about sleep, lifestyle, and more for Reviewed. In her waking hours, she likes to spend time outside, read, cook, and bake. She holds a master’s in journalism from Boston University and bachelors' degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Utah.
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