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Recommended Pillows

Tired of searching for the perfect pillow? Our mission is to help make your decision process easier by sharing reviews, rankings, and comparisons of some of the best pillows of 2024, so you can rest easy.

Last updated: July 2024

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Guide to Finding the Perfect Pillow

We often put hours of research into choosing a mattress, but we rarely dedicate the same energy to choosing a pillow. What we don’t always realize is that mattresses and pillows are equally important ingredients to quality sleep. That’s because the key to quality sleep is a neutral and healthy spinal alignment. While your mattress works to align hips and shoulders, your pillow aligns the neck and head. Unless both parts are taken care of, you will never fully alleviate the aches and pains that result from misalignment.

To get the most restful sleep possible, choose your pillow with care. Remember that pillows are so much more than decoration for your bed—they’re there to provide support. Take time to consider what kind of support you need and be smart when shopping because pillows are not one-size-fits-all. From filling and cover material to size, support, and loft, pillows come in an endless variety. Use this guide to understand the many variables and help determine the best pillow for your sleep style and preferences.

How To Know If You Need A New Pillow

If you’ve been using the same pillow for years on end, you’re certainly not alone. Many people overlook their pillows and don’t realize that they should actually be replaced somewhat regularly. In fact, the National Sleep Organization recommends changing your pillow every 18 months.

But time isn’t the only way to know whether you need a new pillow. Here are some signs that your pillow may need an upgrade:

  • You regularly experience body pain, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Your pillow has gone lumpy
  • It has stains, discoloration, tears, or holes
  • It’s smelly
  • When folded in half lengthwise, it doesn’t snap back to its original form immediately

Other reasons to consider purchasing a new pillow may be that you are getting a new mattress and want a new pillow too. Or perhaps you’re moving to a new home and want to start off on a fresh slate. In short, there is never a bad time to upgrade your pillow.

Questions to Consider When Pillow Shopping

Pillow shopping, like mattress shopping, can be overwhelming. Not only are there so many brands, but there are also so many options!

Make the process easier by asking the following questions as you shop. Doing so will help you determine what to look for when hunting for the best pillow for you.

  • What size pillow do you need? If you already have a pillowcase, what size is it?
  • Do you have allergies or sensitive skin? Is this pillow hypoallergenic?
  • What is your preferred sleep position?
  • Is this pillow washable? Does it have a removable cover?
  • Is it adjustable?
  • What kind of filling does it have?
  • Is there a trial period? A warranty?

Below, we’ll break down why each of these questions is important and give you all the tools you need to find the perfect pillow.

Pillow Sizes

Most brands offer two sizes of pillows: standard and king. Some brands, like Saatva, also offer queen size. Here are the dimensions of each:

  • Standard – 20” x 26”
  • Queen – 20” x 30”
  • King – 20” x 36”

You should know that brands don’t always accurately label the sizes of their pillows. The actual dimensions of a pillow may vary by several inches in either direction. If you already have a pillowcase for your pillow, make sure that the dimensions of each are compatible before purchasing.

Pillow Fillings

The best pillow is one that offers the ideal amount of support. The filling of your pillow is what determines how supportive it is. Airy, compressible materials will provide softer support, while denser foams and less compressible materials provide firmer support.

Fillings are also important to consider if you have allergies or sensitive skin, are prone to night sweats or prefer a natural or organic pillow.

These are some of the most common pillow fillings:

  • Down – Down is the most traditional pillow filling. It is made of soft feathers, usually from a duck, and is highly breathable and easily compressed. Down offers soft support and is machine washable.
  • Memory Foam – Memory foam is a viscoelastic polyurethane foam that contours to the head and neck, relieving pressure. It has a soft, conforming feel and is often used in adjustable pillows. A memory foam pillow cannot be washed.
  • Latex – Latex comes from the sap of rubber trees and is an all-natural alternative to memory foam. It is soft and malleable and may appear either shredded or solid in pillows. Shredded latex is softer, while solid latex offers more firm support.
  • Wool or Cotton – These natural pillow fillings are breathable and often appear in adjustable pillows. Low-density wool or cotton offers soft support, while high-density material offers firm support.
  • Kapok – Kapok is a shredded plant fiber that comes from the kapok tree. It is very soft and highly breathable and is sometimes considered a vegan alternative to down. Often, it is used to add softness and fluff to pillows that also feature more supportive materials.
  • Polyfill – Polyfill is a synthetic fiber that can be easily compressed for soft or firm support. Polyfill pillows are an inexpensive alternative to down and are machine washable.
  • Cooling Gels – Many of the best cooling pillows feature cooling gel layers, which wick away heat and keep your pillow feeling fresh.

Pillow Cover Material

The pillow cover is just as important as the filling. Always consider the materials used in the pillow cover before purchasing.

You should also consider whether or not the pillow is washable. Does the pillow come with a removable cover that can be easily washed? If not, is the pillow washing-machine safe?

Here are some of the most common materials used in pillow covers:

  • Polyblend – This is a soft and durable synthetic material used in many standard pillow covers.
  • Organic Cotton – Organic cotton is a highly breathable and soft material. It is easy to wash and is considered healthy.
  • Tencel – Tencel is a plant-based fiber that comes from eucalyptus trees. It is naturally antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and helps wick away moisture. The best cooling pillows feature a Tencel cover.
  • Bamboo – Bamboo is another plant-based fiber that is naturally hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking, and cooling.

How Does Sleep Position Determine The Best Pillow For You?

The position you sleep in determines the amount of stress put on your neck and spine. Back and stomach sleepers risk arching or craning their neck, while side sleepers risk stretching their neck and curving their spine.

If the goal of a pillow is to keep your spine in line, you need one that addresses these potential problems by offering the right amount of lifting support and comfort.

Back Sleepers

The best pillow for sleeping on your back is one with medium loft and medium firmness. It should lift the head slightly, but not so much that the head cranes forward. This will lead to pain at the top of the spine. Insufficient elevation will also cause pressure and soreness. A memory foam pillow is a good choice for back sleepers, as it offers excellent support for this part of the spine.

  • Our pick: The DreamCloud Contour Pillow is the best pillow for sleeping on your back. It features a unique curved design and memory foam that conforms to the neck, head, and shoulders.

dreamcloud pillow

source: dreamcloud.com

Stomach Sleepers

The most comfortable pillow for stomach sleepers is one that has a low loft and is easily compressible. Too much loft will cause a pinching in the neck, increasing the chances of soreness or kinks. A down or down alternative pillow that lifts the head slightly is the best pillow for this sleep position.

  • Our pick: The PlushBeds Natural Luxury Handmade Wool Pillow offers soft, gentle support. You can even unzip it to add or remove filling as you wish. All-natural wool is also highly breathable.

plushbeds pillow

source: plushbeds.com

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers need a pillow with the most loft and firm support to keep pressure off of the shoulder and to keep the head from dipping too far to the side. Look for a tall pillow with a large gusset that will keep your head propped up and spine in light all night. A cotton or kapok-filled pillow is the best pillow for side sleepers who need a comfortable, but firm support.

  • Our pick: The Nectar Pillow is the most comfortable pillow for side sleepers. Its 2-inch gusset will keep your head lifted and neck supported throughout the night.

nectar pillow

source: nectarsleep.com

Conclusion

A good pillow doesn’t just alleviate pain in the neck and shoulders—it alleviates pain throughout the body. Take time to consider the many options before purchasing a pillow haphazardly. You can find some of the options on our site—browse our sleep brand reviews to discover them.

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