Best pillows: 7 buys for a comfortable night's sleep

Choosing the best pillow isn't a one-size-fits-all exercise – our guide talks you through the best options for improved sleep quality

best pillow: Woman sleeping on mattress
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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Finding the best pillow for you can improve the quality of your sleep, your spinal position, and even aches and pains. But with so many different factors to consider, from how hot a sleeper you are to your default sleeping position and any special requirements or concerns (neck pain or pregnancy, for instance), finding 'the one' can seem like a daunting task. 

Bearing all of this – and more – in mind, we did the research and rounded up the best pillows to suit a variety of sleep preferences. We considered everything from material, to sleep position, to user reviews, and more, and whittled down a seemingly infinite field of contenders into a list of seven top pillow picks. 

Scroll down to check out our short list (or if you need a little more guidance, jump to the end of the article for a primer on what to look for in a pillow). 

And, if you still can't sleep well after this, it might be time to find the best mattress, too.

What is the best pillow?

Our choice of best pillow you can buy is the COOP Home Original Adjustable Pillow. You can add or remove the stuffing to suit the height and firmness level you prefer. See more below about why we've chosen this as the best pillow and to see all our other picks. 

best pillow RH Loves

(Image credit: Coop )

1. COOP Home Original Adjustable Pillow

The best pillow: adjustable to your preferences and a great pick for side sleepers

Specifications
Best for: Side sleepers
Filling: Shredded memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Cover: Bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable height+Best for side sleepers+Hypoallergenic+Includes extra fill for extra loft+Sleeps cool+CertiPUR-US® and GREENGUARD Gold certified
Reasons to avoid
-Have to figure out where to store fill if you reduce loft

If you are looking to invest in a top-notch pillow that marries support and comfort, then this is the best you can buy. This COOP Home Goods Original Adjustable Pillow has been engineered to give you the best night’s sleep with an adjustable height, but forget all that. It's just really great to sleep on, particularly if you're a side sleeper. 

What's it like to sleep on
Adjustable height = perfect alignment. So, 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 memory foam. 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. 

Who will it suit?
This is a medium-firm pillow that's perfect for side sleepers who like a single pillow, but because you can adjust the pillow's thickness it works for back sleepers who need a shallower pillow, too. 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. 

Ease of care
Remove the filling, pop it in the washing machine. Job done.

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(Image credit: Weekender)

2. WEEKENDER Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Best pillow for memory foam devotees: flatter, firmer, smarter and more supportive than the average pillow

Specifications
Best for: Budget-friendly memory foam
Filling: Memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Cover: Removable cover
Reasons to buy
+Infused with temperature regulating gel +Budget-friendly
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviewers note an off-gas smell when it's first opened

The Weekender pillow is one of the most budget-friendly pillows on our list, and it addresses one of the more commonly cited drawbacks of memory foam: overheating. 

What's it like to sleep on
Users mostly rate it as excellent; 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 (we'd rate it medium to firm). 

Once you've adjusted, though – if you can, not all our sleepers could get used to the initial firm feeling – 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. 

What else?
The gel-infused foam and ventilated design are designed to keep you cool. 

Who will it suit?
The Weekender is designed for back, side, and stomach sleepers, but we'd rate it best for back sleepers, and a good pick for side sleepers as well. 

Ease of care
The cover can be removed and washed. The pillow itself cannot.

best pillow

(Image credit: Boll & Branch)

3. Boll & Branch Down Pillow

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

Specifications
Best for: Ethical sleep standards
Filling: Responsibly sourced down
Firmness: Soft, Medium, or Firm
Cover: 100% organic cotton
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and flexible +Ideal for stomach sleepers+Triple-washed, responsibly sourced down+100% organic cotton cover
Reasons to avoid
-Needs re-plumping -Gets more expensive the firmer you go

Manufactured in the U.S., this Boll & Branch traditional down pillow is soft and luxurious and features an organic cotton cover. It's available in three firmness levels, soft, medium, and firm, so you can pick according to your preference. It is, however, one of the most expensive pillows on our list.

What's it like to sleep on?
As you'd expect with this natural filling, it's soft and cozy to lie on no matter which firmness you choose, though the medium-firm pillow is noticeably more supportive than the soft option. Still, don't expect your head to sink right back to the mattress with either option like it might on poorer quality pillows. Three-chamber construction helps the pillow keep its shape both through the night and over time.

What else is there to like about it? The cover is made from 100 percent organic cotton, and it's made and assembled in Ohio. Plus, the down is sourced from a cruelty-free farm.

Who will it suit
Its supportive sink-in qualities mean it's perfect for stomach sleepers, though side sleepers have reported loving the medium version, and back sleepers found comfort with the firm. 

Ease of care
All it needs is a good shake every now and then to plump it up and improve the loft. Down pillows can be machine washed and tumble dried on low (we recommend throwing in a few clean tennis balls to fluff them up, too).

best pillow budget

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. AmazonBasics Down Alternative Pillow 2-Pack

Best budget-friendly allergy pillow: this hypoallergenic pillow comes in at under $12 a pop

Specifications
Best for: Budget seekers
Filling: Down Alternative
Firmness: Soft/Medium
Cover: Polyester Microfiber
Reasons to buy
+Very inexpensive +Available in soft and medium densities+Anti-allergy 
Reasons to avoid
-Takes 24 hours to expand-Will consistently need to be fluffed-Not the best support

Typically costing under $30 for two, these Amazon Basics pillows are a fantastic budget anti-allergy buy. 

What's it like to sleep on
Great for allergy sufferers. The down alternative 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 pillows are available in two densities: soft for stomach and back sleepers or medium for back and side sleepers. 

Who will it suit
Amazon Basics offers a down alternative for all sleep types. It's also budget-friendly and hypoallergenic. 

What else?
Reviews have been pretty mixed on this, but most critics call out that the pillow goes flat and it doesn't offer much support. The pillows are sold as a set, so the solution could be as simple as doubling up on pillows. 

Ease of care
The whole thing can be popped in the washing machine for easy cleaning. Use our guide to find out more about how to get rid of dust mites, too.

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(Image credit: Saatva)

5. The Saatva Pillow

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

Specifications
Best for: Naturally allergy averting
Filling: Microdenier fiber, Talalay latex
Firmness: Medium-Firm
Cover: Removable 100% organic cotton
Reasons to buy
+Firm, supportive shredded latex foam  +Mildew and dust mite-resistant+Organic cotton cover
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive -Too dense for some

Willing to splurge for a good night's sleep? Then The Saatva Pillow could be the perfect pick. This pillow comes in at just over $150, but it gets rave reviews from nearly anyone who tries it out. Plus, it's eco-friendly and made in the U.S.A.

What's it like to sleep on
At night, it remains cool, dry, and breathable, as you'd expect from latex; and it’s naturally mildew and dust mite-resistant, making it a really great choice for allergy sufferers, too. If you like a squishy, sink-in pillow, however, you may want to skip this one, as some reviewers call it "dense."

Who will it suit
Its medium firmness and lofty depth make this pillow an excellent choice for side-sleepers or back sleepers that prefer a slight incline, but stomach-sleepers may find it too high for comfort.

Ease of care
The organic cotton cover and microdenier pillow can be washed. However, just be sure to remove the core of shredded natural latex. 

best pillow

(Image credit: LL Bean )

6. LL Bean Down-Alternative Damask Pillow

Best value pillow: for that down feel without the down pricing, try this hypoallergenic PrimaLoft pillow

Specifications
Best for: Value, softness
Filling: Primaloft
Firmness: Soft, Medium, Firm
Cover: 100% Cotton
Reasons to buy
+ Great value down alternative + Very soft filling 
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviewers say the pillow is too high

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 L.L. Bean pillow instead.

Buy the L.L. Bean Down Alternative Pillow.

What's it like to sleep on?
This pillow offers allergy-friendly support thanks to its hypoallergenic PimaLoft fill. Plus, it's a comparatively budget-friendly buy, so if you want a high-quality pillow without spending $100 – perhaps something for a spare bed – it's a good choice. 

Will it suit your sleep position?
This pillow comes in soft, medium, and firm fill options so you can choose the one that's best for you. We recommend the soft pillow for stomach sleepers or those who move a lot in their sleep. The medium is a good choice for back-only sleepers, while the firm version is the best bet for side sleepers 

Ease of care
It's machine-washable. 

ultra cool pillow

(Image credit: Slumber Cloud)

7. Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Best pillow for hot sleepers: a down pillow in a keep-cool case

Specifications
Best for: Hot sleepers
Filling: Alternative Down
Firmness: Soft/Medium or Medium/Firm
Cover: Outlast
Reasons to buy
+Temperature regulation engineered by NASA+Down-alternative fill

If you love the squishiness of down but find that you're constantly searching for the cool side of the pillow, UltraCool down alternative pillow is the one you've been waiting for. It's filled with down, but the cooling fabric shell is made with a NASA-engineered technology designed to prevent overheating. 

What's it like to sleep on
This pillow sleeps like a traditional pillow despite its high-tech outer layer. If you like a plush pillow you can sink into, you'll like the UltraCool. One user described it as sleeping on nice cool clouds. Even better, every side is the "cool side" of the pillow. 

The cover, featuring what Slumber Cloud calls Outlast, can absorb, store and release excess heat. This helps reduce overheating, but will also restore heat should you become cold. 

Will it suit your usual sleep position?
Down-alternative pillows in general are typically best for stomach sleepers since they tend to lose their "fluff" throughout the night. But, this pillow can be ordered in two firmness levels, so even back sleepers can get comfortable with this pillow simply by ordering right. The company recommends a soft pillow for stomach sleepers, medium for side sleepers, and firm for back sleepers.

Ease of care
It doesn't get much easier than this: Pop the pillow in the washer and dryer to bring it back to life.

How to buy the best pillow

Follow these simple steps to get the very best pillow for you:

1. 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.

Now think about where your pillow will sit beneath your head while you sleep. If you prefer it completely beneath your head, you'll get on best with a low- to medium-loft pillow; if you sleep with your pillow only partially beneath your head, you may find a pillow with a higher loft to feel supported.

2. How thick is your preferred pillow? 

This is called 'pillow loft', and when you're buying new, you might see it written on the side of the packaging. Experiment at home to get your preferred thickness right. Low loft pillows are around 3" thick; medium loft pillows are 3" to 5" thick; high loft pillows are at least 5" thick.

3. Remember, it's personal

These pillows have been rated based on our own team members' experience with them, but it's vital to remember that we all have different preferences that don't necessarily relate to their sleeping position, as mentioned above. Some of us prefer to sleep with two pillows (even though sleep experts suggest that sleeping with one is the best option); others prefer the feel of synthetic fillings over natural... and so on. 

Also important to consider: unless you and your partner both sleep soundly, it shouldn't be a case of buying matching pillows 'just because'. What you find comfortable might not work for your other half, so your pillow choices should be entirely independent. 

4. How do a pillow's fillings feel to sleep on?

Natural fillings, including duck and goose feathers and down, feel soft and luxurious, giving you that extra-cozy sensation of sinking into your pillow. They, along with sheep’s wool, are naturally heat-retaining, which makes them ideal if you get chilly at 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 fiber 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, hybrid 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.

If you still can't decide what to buy, find our more in our complete guide to choosing a pillow.

More about sleeping soundly:

Kaitlin Madden
Kaitlin Madden

Kaitlin Madden Armon is a writer and editor covering all things home. In addition to Real Homes, she's written for Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and black lab.