Update: Based on feedback of the initial review, we've updated and expanded this roundup to include Casper and Purple bed pillows.
If you've ever gone pillow shopping, you've probably walked away with a headache more than once. With all the different shapes and sizes and materials out there, parsing out the good from the bad can be massively overwhelming. Fortunately, we're here to help. From memory foam pillows to gel pillows, we gathered the most popular bed pillows and tested them side-by-side over many naps and nights.
Thanks to its adjustability and soft bamboo cover that keeps things nice and cool all night long, the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow(available at Amazon) ended up nabbing our top spot. We'd recommend pairing it with our best comforter and bed sheet.
It's worth noting that pillow preference is purely subjective, as it's based on your body type and sleep habits. Whether you sleep on your side or with a body pillow, consider this our attempt at an objective analysis based on two specific bodies (mine and my fiancé's), a bunch of pillows, and a whole lot of Z's.
These are the best pillows we tested ranked, in order:
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Sleep Restoration Gel Fiber Filled Pillow
Parachute Home Down Alternative Pillow
Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
Nest Easy Breather Natural Latex Pillow
National Sleep Products Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow
Malouf Z Zoned "Dough" Memory Foam Pillow
East Coast Bedding Luxury Goose Feather and Down Pillow
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The Xtreme Comforts pillow, despite its ominously overzealous name, is the pillow we're happiest to recommend for most people.
The pillow arrives rolled up and compressed, but once it’s out of the packaging it fluffs up to full size quickly. (Keep in mind that some memory foam pillows take longer to adjust in colder temps and tend to stay firmer in cold environments.)
The Xtreme Comforts really shines when it comes to adjustability. The pillow’s packaging states that is is intentionally “overstuffed,” so I removed about a quarter of the bamboo shredded memory foam and kneaded the pillow until the foam was evenly redistributed and it felt comfortable to lie on. Since the foam is shredded, you don't feel lumps and bumps—the contents mold around your head, neck, and spine so you feel supported.
My partner is a back sleeper accustomed to two stacked pillows, so I put the shredded memory foam fill back into the pillow to test it at full capacity. He woke up the next day without his customary neck pain. Xtreme Comforts’ website claims that the pillow helps with proper alignment of your cervical nerves, so maybe there's some truth there.
Instead of a cotton cover, the pillowcase is made with a Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Bamboo Cover, a feature you may particularly relish if, like me, you wake up hot in the middle of the night.
Other things we like: The pillow is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, and the pillowcase is machine washable.
These gel-fiber filled bedding pillows feel supportive yet fluffy and comfortable. It’s named our “Best Value” because you get two pillows for less than the cost of our top pick, the Xtreme Comfort. The Sleep Restoration pillows felt comfortable without needing an adjustment—which is good because you can’t remove the super plush gel-filled fiber at all if the pillow is too high or fluffy for you.
You wouldn’t lay your head on this pillow and think it’s made with “gel” at all until you rub the pillow between your forefinger and thumb to feel the gel fiber. They seemed lofty, but settled down to a comfortable height whether I slept on my side or my partner slept on his back.
Other things we like: It's dust mite and stain resistant.
Why it didn't win: The cover is not machine washable and the pillow is not adjustable.
Hi, I'm Diana Kelly. I’ve been a health journalist for over a decade and have likely written at least 50 articles about sleep and health, so I know the importance of getting quality sleep. I’ve worked both sides of the editorial divide, contributing to review sites and writing for the sleep companies themselves at various times.
So when my editor asked if I’d like to sleep, nap, and burrow into pillows for hours in the name of research, I was on board. I love sleep. When I have a great night’s sleep, I feel like I can check off all of my work to-dos, exercise at my full potential, make healthy food choices, and act kinder and more patient to others. And when I don’t sleep well, picture the opposite of all of that. I’ve even jokingly called myself a “napportunist” in the past—when an opportunity to nap arises, I try to take it. If that makes me sound lazy, so be it. I just got to call napping and going to bed “work” for two weeks and I’m pretty happy about it.
After researching some of the top-rated and best-ranked pillows on the Internet, our team looked at the reviewed pillows on Sleepopolis.com and SleepLiketheDead.com. I slept on each pillow in our experiment (I’m 5’6”) and gave them to my partner to sleep on (he’s 6’3”). I also napped on each pillow, had pillow fights with my partner (I lost all of them), and folded them with a weight on top to see if they bounced back to their original shapes or need fluffing. Here are the top pillows, in order of their rank, and why they made the grade.
Update: In order to expand the line-up of pillows we tested, Dave Kender, editor at Reviewed, packed a monstrously large bag full of pillows and brought them home for him and his wife to evaluate. They "calibrated" themselves by first testing the two winners, then testing the Casper, Purple, and My Pillow.
What You Should Know About Bed Pillows
What Kind of Fill Should I Get?
When it comes to picking a bed pillow, there's a lot to consider. Do you sleep on your stomach or your side? Is a foam pillow better than a down pillow? What's a good pillow for a king-sized bed? If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't worry, we're here to help.
It's important to figure out what kind of fill you want. A down pillow, for example, is really squishy, so it's a great cushion for your head. In addition to being fluffy, they're also hypo-allergenic. A foam pillow, on the other hand, is firmer and will keep its shape even when you shift in your sleep. If you want something in the middle (not too soft, not too firm), we'd recommend a pillow with a polyester fill.
Does Sleep Positions Matter?
When it comes to comfort, your go-to sleeping position matters quite a bit. Do you sleep on your stomach or side? Whether you count yourself amongst the legion of side sleepers or a snooze as a stomach sleeper, we'd recommend a thicker pillow that'll support and comfort your neck. If you tend to sleep on your back, you should go for a flat, thinner pillow. If you're not sure which pillow does what, most quality pillows will have information on how to use them and get the best support.
When Should I Replace my Pillow?
Pillows aren't designed to last forever. That's just the sad truth of it. But how do you know when it's time to replace it? If you fold your pillow in half and it doesn't spring back to its original shape, then it's time to toss it. You should also keep an eye out for sagging or lumps.
Other Pillows We Tested
The Purple Pillow is the most unusual of the bunch here. So while we liked it, we can't necessarily recommend it for everyone. The Purple is heavy, really heavy. My arms actually got tired carrying this thing home, and if you tried using this in a pillow fight you might knock someone out. It's made up of a wobbly "Hyper-Elastic Polymer" in a honeycomb-like grid. There's a lot of space for the airflow in a pattern like that, which kept us cool through the night.
The downside is that there's not much give in the height. You can't "squash it down" to make it more comfortable and the push-back from the polymer might make your ears a little sore. Our female tester also found the Purple too tall. However, another editor in the Reviewed office absolutely loves hers and shot me a withering, almost pitying look, when I told her my reservations. Something this unique invites polarizing opinions. We suggest you try to get your hands on one before you buy.
At least one editor at Reviewed is on the record talking about his affinity for the Casper mattress, so it was natural that we wanted to try out their pillow. Though it may feel like a traditional polyester-fill, the Casper pillow is actually two "pillows" in one—a softer outer core and a firm inner core. It's an effective design without feeling gimmicky.
There's quite a lot of sinkage when you lay your head down. One of our tall, male testers was concerned at first that it might sink as low as a down pillow, but the Casper held firm at just the right spot, cradling the head and neck. One of our female testers named this her top pick and is all set to replace her old pillows with two brand-new Caspers.
If you're looking for a solid, standard size pillow that just nails the basics really well, the Casper is a good choice.
Parachute offers soft, medium, and firm pillow densities at various price points, and they actually recommend the medium firmness for back sleepers, with the high firm for side sleepers. Since I was enjoying my experiences with memory foam pillows, I was surprised that a softer, loftier medium-density pillow turned out to be one of the top-ranked pillows on this list.
The “down alternative” made from a hypoallergenic microfiber fill felt softer and more comfortable to sleep on than the partial down pillow I tried later with real feathers and down. While it wasn’t my partner’s top pick due to it’s softness while he was sleeping on his back, I found him hugging it a few times while sleeping on another pillow. I slept just fine on this overnight, but its lightness and fluffiness made it perfect for me to toss on my couch for a nap. Since it’s lightweight, this would be a nice pillow to fold in half and rest your head on against the window during a long car ride nap. I call shotgun!
The Easy Breather is filled with a unique blend of shredded latex and fiber that you can take out to adjust to your preferences. This isn’t a unique feature in this roundup—our winner, the Xtreme Comforts, offers it too— but that adjustability is definitely something I’ve come to appreciate. Unfortunately, the Easy Breather filling proved harder to redistribute evenly.
As a side sleeper, I sunk deeper into this pillow than I did on the Coop and Xtreme Comforts pillows, which makes me think it wasn’t as supportive. My partner thought it was fine, but we both agreed that it wasn’t worth the high price tag.
National Sleep Products Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow
The National Sleep Products Premier pillows (this is another 2-pack) are high and fluffy, but quick to bounce back if you squish them down. Filled with a hypoallergenic down alternative, it’s comfortable and a decent value for the price, though it did seem to retain heat more than other pillows on this list. My back-sleeping partner liked that it was soft and comfortable (perfect for propping your head up on the couch and watching TV) but not as supportive on his neck and upper back as the memory foam pillows. Also, the cotton seemed to be coming out in tufts around our home.
Malouf produces a huge line-up of pillows that can be customized by material, density, size, shape, and feature. There's probably a Best Malouf Pillows You Can Buy Right Now article at some point in our future. But for now, we limited ourselves to one of their most popular items, the Z Zoned Dough in both High Loft/Firm and Low Loft/Plush configurations.
This futuristic-looking pillow has a 75% polyester/25% rayon-from-bamboo cover with a 100% polyurethane foam fill. According to Malouf, the “larger holes in the center of the pillow cradle your head, while smaller holes around the perimeter create a supportive zone for your neck.” When you rest your head on it, your neck feels supported but you don’t sink down at all. The covering itself was silky, cool and comfortable, likely due to the open cell technology that is supposed to promote breathability and keep you feeling cool. Sleepopolis.com ranked Malouf pillows high for their cooling abilities. My fiancé and I both preferred the Low Loft version (4.5” high) better than the High Loft (7” high) version. As a back sleeper, this, too, was one of the pillows he liked for its supportiveness and he woke up without neck pain. We should point, however, that this pillow can’t be adjusted.
East Coast Bedding Luxury Goose Feather and Down Pillow
If you’re like me, when you think of “down,” you think of a luxurious, soft, fluffy hotel pillow. Feather and down combos are different, particularly in this pillow, which has a ratio of 15% goose down and 85% goose feather. If you’re seeking that downy feel, it doesn’t deliver. This pillow was somewhat comfortable but the crunchy texture of the feathers was distracting. You don't feel the feather stems while sleeping, but this pillow is crinkly to touch. As a result, this was my least favorite pillow. That said, feather pillows aren't my preference in the first place. However, this pillow ranked high with user reviews.
The East Coast Bedding Feather and Down is a 2-pack, but it's not a great value when compared to the Sleep Restoration pillows we loved.
David Kender oversees content at Reviewed as the Editor in Chief. He served as managing editor and editor in chief of Reviewed's ancestor, CamcorderInfo.com, helping to grow the company from a tiny staff to one of the most influential online review resources. In his time at Reviewed, David has helped to launch over 100 product categories and written too many articles to count.
Diana Kelly is an accomplished writer, editor, multimedia journalist, digital content strategist and freelance writing coach with over 14 years of experience working for national publications, websites, and brands.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.