Best pillow 2019: for a perfect night's sleep

Between memory foam, duck down, and even water pockets, there’s a lot more to pillow shopping these days – read our list of the best pillows and find your favourite for a comfortable, pain-free night’s kip

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From fibres and foam to fillings and firmness, there’s a surprising amount to consider when it comes to finding the perfect pillow. Luckily, we’re here to help with our round-up of the best pillows on the market, and a little advice on what to look for.

Find more advice before you buy with our guide to choosing a pillow. And discover more sleep recommendations in our best mattress guide; shop for the best bedding deals right now, too.

What is the best pillow?

Our choice of best pillow is the Simba Hybrid with OUTLAST®, which has the unique ability to have its stuffing (foam Nanocubes, if you prefer) removed or added back in to suit the height and firmness levels you prefer. Oh, and its materials were originally designed for astronauts. See more below. 

How to buy the best pillow

How do you sleep?

Side sleepers will need a plump, firm pillow: think hybrids or memory foam; back and stomach sleepers will need much softer, thinner pillows to hold their necks in perfect alignment.

Remember, it's personal

The pillows below have been rated by users' experience of them, but it's vital to remember that everyone has different preferences that don't necessarily relate to their sleeping position: some prefer to sleep with two pillows, even though sleep experts suggest that sleeping with one is the best option; others prefer the feel synthetic fillings over natural... and so on. In other words, no one size fits all, so you should never just buy the same pillow for every family member and assume they'll all achieve the same comfort levels.

Fillings

Natural fillings are a traditional choice that have stood the test of time, and for good reason. Duck and goose feathers and down – the soft, fluffy, non-flight feathers found on the bird’s breast – feel soft and luxurious, giving you that extra-cosy sensation of sinking into your pillow. They, along with sheep’s wool, another popular naturally-sourced filling for pillows, are naturally heat-retaining, which makes them ideal for people who get chilly in the night, but not for those who are constantly in pursuit of the cool side of the pillow.

If you like the softness of down but not the heat, or you suffer from allergies or respiratory diseases, you can get synthetic fibre fillings that mimic the feel. And speaking of allergies, pillow manufacturers are very much up to speed with the needs of their users these days, so you can expect to find anti-allergy fillings and coverings, plus keep-clean machine washable constructions, for a reasonable price

Finally, for those of us who need more support in bed, or just prefer the feel of a firm pillow, there are latex and memory foam. Helpful for sufferers of neck or back pain, they keep the spine and muscles correctly elevated and aligned for a deep sleep and a pain-free morning.

Use our guide to choosing a pillow to find out much, much more.

Best pillow: Simba Hybrid Pillow with Outlast

1. Simba Hybrid pillow with Outlast

The best pillow: scientifically engineered to offer the best night's sleep

Specifications
Best for: Temperature regulation, side sleepers
Filling: Memory foam tubes/ down
Firmness: Soft medium
Cover: Jacquard Cotton
Reasons to buy
+Temperature regulation and adjustable height
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey -Too firm for some

If you are looking to invest in a top notch pillow then this is the best you can buy (in our opinion, anyway). This Simba pillow has been scientifically engineered to give you the best night’s sleep, with temperature regulation and adjustable height. 

First, the adjustable height feature, which should allow you to achieve perfect alignment: the pillow comes with a zipper that allows you to access its interior and remove (or add back) the foam Nanocubes. The more foam is inside the pillow, the higher and firmer it feels. Our tester removed around three handfuls to get the desired height and level of firmness. 

Now to the science. Originally developed for space exploration, OUTLAST® (the super swish material this pillow is made from) proactively regulates your body temperature by absorbing, storing and releasing heat. We were testing it in spring, when nights weren't particularly hot, but did wake up feeling fresh – or at least not sweaty.

This is also a hybrid pillow, so on one side, OUTLAST®* material is paired with a layer of soft duck down and flip the pillow to enjoy 300 thread count jacquard cotton combined with smart microfibre. This side is durable and lightweight, and has more of that cloud-like feel than the other side.

Our conclusion? This is a firm to medium firm pillow that's perfect for side sleepers who like a single pillow. It has more of a sink-in quality than the memory foam pillows we tested, but won't give you the same soft sensation that a down or feather pillow will. That said, unlike down or feather, it holds its shape and barely needs re-plumping. Unlike traditional memory foam pillows, it's a cool place to lay your head each night. 

See our review of the Simba mattress to complement your pillow choice.

Best pillow for back sleepers: eve memory foam pillow

2. eve Memory Foam pillow

Best pillow for back sleepers: flatter, firmer, smarter and more supportive than the average pillow

Specifications
Best for: Luxurious memory foam
Filling: Memory foam
Firmness: Medium firm
Cover: 100% polyester removable cover
Reasons to buy
+ Cooling memory foam + Hypoallergenic and antimicrobial 
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive 

Designed as an extension of the acclaimed Eve mattress (see our review), this luxury buy offers all the benefits of memory foam while addressing its more commonly cited drawbacks, such as overheating. 

The hypoallergenic foam and antimicrobial UltraFresh finish allows you to benefit from its comforting and muscle-aligning properties. However, it might take some getting used to as it’s far flatter than your average memory foam pillow, which is why we've rated it as best for back sleepers. Side sleepers, look up to the Simba for the level of neck support you'll need. 

The cover’s durable jersey fabric is knitted, which makes it feel like it has a lot of give, and it's super soft, too. The cover can be removed and washed at 40°C, and it’s hypoallergenic, making it a great choice for allergy sufferers.

Users mostly rate it as excellent and 'like sleeping on a cloud'; others say it's too firm, but in our experience, memory foam pillows do feel firmer than any other pillow type, and take a little getting used to. Once you've adjusted, though, you may never want to go back to traditional fillings, whether natural or synthetic. Either way, there’s a 30-day trial, so you can send it straight back if you don't get on with it. 

Best pillow for front sleepers: Snuggledown Scandinavian Duck Feather and Down Pillow

3. Snuggledown Scandinavian Duck Feather and Down pillow

Best pillow for front sleepers: snuggle down into this luxurious feather pillow for a price that’ll let you rest easy

Specifications
Best for: Value feather and down
Filling: Duck feather (85%) and down (15%)
Firmness: Soft
Cover: 100% cotton
Reasons to buy
+ Great value down option + Lightweight and flexible 
Reasons to avoid
- Needs re-plumping 

Conceived in Norway and manufactured in the UK, this traditional feather pillow (actually, 85 per cent feather, 15 per cent down) is an ideal meeting of luxury feel and affordability. 

The air-trapping down-and-feather filling makes this pillow perfect for sleepers who get chilly at night, and can be easily manipulated for the ideal level of cushioning. 

As you'd expect with this natural filling, it's soft and cushioning to lie on, and because quite a flat pillow, it's perfect for front sleepers.

What else to like about it? It’s even light and flexible enough to take on the road for comfort on a long car journey. All it needs is a good shake every now and then to plump it up and improve the loft.

Best budget pillow for allergy sufferers: Silentnight Anti-Allergy Pillow

4. Silentnight Anti-Allergy pillow

Best budget pillow: this hypoallergenic pillow banishes coughs and sneezes, itches and wheezes

Specifications
Best for: Budget anti-allergy
Filling: Hollow fibre
Firmness: Soft
Cover: Microfibre polyester
Reasons to buy
+ Very inexpensive + Soft anti-allergy option 
Reasons to avoid
- Offers little support 

At just over £12 for two, these budget anti-allergy pillows are a fantastic buy. The soft hollowfibre filling is antibacterial, and actively protects the pillow from dust mites. This helps to prevent allergies and keeps your pillow feeling fresh and clean. The cover is easy-on-skin microfibre polyester, and the whole thing can be popped in the washing machine for easy cleaning. 

In case you were wondering just how good they could be at the price they're selling for, Silentnight anti-allergy fibres are approved by the British Allergy Foundation, which means they have the ultimate seal of approval. Buy them for yourself, an allergy-suffering partner or the kids, to eliminate those mysterious night-time coughs and itches. 

As for comfort levels, Silentnight rates the firmness of their pillows from one to 10, with one being very soft and 10 being extra firm. These anti-allergy pillows are rated as a four, which means they are of a medium comfort. In theory, this makes them suitable for all sleep positions. But, compared to hybrid, memory foam and plumper feather and down pillows, we think this is a very soft pillow that’s ideal for front sleepers (see our mattress guide for stomach sleepers for more). 

For those in search of more support, perhaps side sleepers, or for anyone who like a pillow with more firmness, see the pillows above, or consider the Dunlopillo Super Comfort (reviewed below). 

Use our guide to find out more about how to get rid of dust mites, too.

Best pillow for allergy sufferers: Dunlopillo Super Comfort pillow

5. Dunlopillo Super Comfort pillow

Best pillow for allergy sufferers: a high-end, high-performing pillow for allergy sufferers

Specifications
Best for: Naturally allergy averting
Filling: Latex foam
Firmness: Firm
Cover: Removable knitted
Reasons to buy
+ Firm, supportive latex foam  + Antibacterial, antifungal and dust mite-repelling 
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive 

For the allergy-alleviating properties of the Silentnight pillows, but with the firmness and support of a hybrid or memory foam pillow, give this latex Dunlopillo pillow a try. 

Its medium firmness and depth – it's been described as 'bouncy' by some reviewers – make it a good choice for side sleepers who like to sleep on a single pillow, but because it’s quick to adapt to your unique shape, it will suit back sleepers, too. 

At night, it remains cool, dry and breathable in the summer, as you'd expect from latex; and it’s naturally antifungal, antibacterial, and dust mite-free, making it a really great choice for allergy sufferers, too.

This latex pillow is covered in a luxury removable knitted cover, which makes it easy to keep clean.

Best pillow for neck pain sufferers: Mediflow Waterbase Fibrefill pillow

6. Mediflow Waterbase Fibrefill pillow

Best pillow for neck pain sufferers: a unique doctor-recommended pillow for reducing neck pain and improving snooze

Specifications
Best for: Most adaptable
Filling: Water and polyester fibre
Firmness: Variable
Cover: 100% cotton removable
Reasons to buy
+ Adjustable firmness + Clinically proven to reduce neck pain 
Reasons to avoid
- Not for everyone 

Those of us old enough to remember the reign of the waterbed will be (rightly) dubious about a water-filled pillow, but bear with us. This unique pillow, with its water base, thermal insulating layer, and hypoallergenic polyester fibres, ranked best for reducing neck pain and quality of rest in a sleep study at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The biggest winner for us is its customisability: simply adjust the firmness using the water level to meet your preference: soft, medium, firm or something in between. 

How does it work? Whether you're a side, back or stomach sleeper – or a fidget who switches positions regularly – the water within the pillow moves with your head, meaning you won't have to adjust or fluff the pillow while you half-sleep. 

The pillow is made with a 100 per cent hypoallergenic cotton shell encasing a sealed and insulated water pouch, which keeps the pillow at body temperature, with a comfortable Dacron Hollofil fibre layer on top. A note on the body temperature bit – if you're a sweaty sleeper or get very hot at night, this might be problematic.

How does it feel to sleep on? It's important to note that you need to ensure the water levels are right for your firmness preference and that you get all the air out of the pillow cavity before replacing the cap to avoid a 'sloshing sound' as you turn. It will also feel heavier than pillows with other fillings, even memory foam. Otherwise, the pillow is roundly praised for its neck-pain relieving properties. 

There's a 30 day money-back guarantee if you can't get on with it, too.

Best synthetic pillow: Silentnight Just Like Down Microfibre Pillow

6. Silentnight Just Like Down Microfibre Pillow

Best synthetic pillow: for that down feel without the down pricing, try this budget hollowfibre option

Specifications
Best for: Value softness
Filling: Hollowfibre
Firmness: Soft
Cover: Microfibre
Reasons to buy
+ Great value down alternative + Very soft filling 
Reasons to avoid
- Doesn’t stay plump for long 

If you like the softness of down, but suffer from an animal allergy or asthma, object to using animal products, or just don’t appreciate being poked by feathers when the pillow starts to wear, try this 'Just Like Down' pillow instead. 

The hollow fibre filling is beautifully soft, making it suitable for sleepers of all descriptions especially back and front sleepers, and the whole package is budget-friendly and machine-washable, another improvement on higher-maintenance and higher-priced down. 

Great all round, if you like a soft pillow. 

Best pillow pair: The Perfect Pair pillows by The Fine Bedding Company

(Image: © The Fine Bedding Company)

7. The Perfect Pair pillows by The Fine Bedding Company

Best pillow pair: soft and welcoming, and ideal for back sleepers

Specifications
Best for: Back sleepers who like two pillows
Filling: 100% Microfibre
Firmness: Soft/Medium
Cover: Microfibre
Reasons to buy
+Great for anyone who loves soft support+Two pillows packaged as the perfect pair
Reasons to avoid
- Top pillow doesn’t stay plump for long - Not deep enough to please side sleepers

For those who prefer a pair of pillows that can be moulded around them while they sleep, it's a great idea to buy a pair of pillows designed to complement each other. The Perfect Pair has been designed exactly for this purpose. 

The top pillow is a soft pillow for comfort, the bottom, square edged pillow is firmer for support. However, when we say 'firmer' we wouldn't class this pillow as anything other than Medium/Soft and, as a pair, they feel soft. That doesn't mean they're not supportive if you're lying on your back; in fact, they're perfectly comfortable for that sleep position. But for side sleepers with neck ache, you'll need something that's deeper – or at least a pillow that retains its shape better while you swap from side to side.

The big upsides to these pillows are that they're hypoallergenic and fully machine washable, making them a great choice for allergy sufferers.

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