Choosing the best pillow for you begins with knowing your dominant sleeping position (stomach, back or side sleeping). Some people switch positions throughout the night and need a pillow that responds quickly to their movements. We have three of those in this guide, along with fully adjustable pillows so you can make yours as high or as shallow as you prefer. This is the best option for most people because it's almost like having a custom-made pillow.
As a general rule, side sleepers are more comfortable on a high loft pillow to plug the gap that forms between their head and shoulders during side sleeping. Back and stomach sleepers do better with a low profile pillow that won't push their neck out of alignment. Our best pillows guide contains options for all sleep styles and budgets, so you'll easily find the right one for you.
We talk a lot on TechRadar about the importance of sleep, and a pillow can have a surprising impact on quality of sleep. So it's worth taking your time to ensure you pick the best pillow. You don't have to spend much either – for example, the top-rated Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows cost less than $40 for two.
Depending on your preferences, you'll find bed pillows made from all sorts of natural and synthetic materials. These include memory foam, microfiber, feather, down, Tencel, latex and naturally cooling wool. There are some big names behind many of our top-rated picks too, including Purple and Casper - two brands behind America's best mattresses. Let’s take a look at this year's top pillows now...
The best pillows to buy now
The best-selling Layla Kapok Pillow is designed with an innovative cover that has copper fibers woven in to deliver cooling and antimicrobial properties. Copper helps wick away body heat, meaning the pillow is ideal for those who sleep hot or find their head gets sweaty at night.
We slept on a queen size Kapok Pillow (king size also available) every night for three weeks straight and loved it. We found it to be comfortable and supportive, with our only gripe being that we had to fluff the pillow each morning to help it regain its shape.
We found that it stayed cool to the touch too, so if sleeping hot (or drooling) leaves you feeling worried about odors on your pillow, then the Layla Kapok Pillow's microbial copper-infused cover has this taken care of and can help keep smells to a minimum.
The inner fill of the pillow contains a blend of shredded memory foam and natural kapok fibers (they have a down-like feel) with a high loft that works particularly well for side sleepers. You can also remove and adjust the fill to suit your own preference, meaning the pillow can be adapted for different sleeping styles. Its the best pillow for side and back sleepers prone to overheating, and we awarded it a high review score for performance, build quality and cooling.
- Read our Layla Kapok pillow review
Coop’s adjustable pillow is a fantastic all-rounder and the ideal solution for people who want to create a customised pillow to suit their needs. The medium-firm pillow is filled with cross-cut memory foam and microfiber, and has a removable cover made using polyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayon to help keep you cool at night.
So far, so standard for a bed pillow. But the Coop’s unique selling point is that you can add or remove the memory foam / microfiber fill to get the perfect loft and density for your sleeping style. There’s even an extra half-pound of fill included if you want a super-plump pillow.
This reasonably priced pillow comes in Queen and King sizes and includes a 100-night trial so you can decide whether it’s the right fit for you. There’s also a 5-year warranty. Coop recommends this pillow for side sleepers, but we think the adjustable nature makes it the best pillow for most people.
The Casper Original Pillow feels as plush as a down pillow thanks to the millions of hypoallergenic microfibers that are used to fill it. We found it to be extremely soft and comfortable during sleep and relaxation. This high level of neck comfort is combined with an equally soft cover that contains a breathable percale weave to help keep sleepers cool at night.
The big selling point of the Casper Original Pillow is how quickly it adapts to different sleeping positions, making it an ideal choice for combination sleepers who move from side to stomach to back sleeping during the night.
The pillow offers stable neck alignment, thanks to a two-inch gusset. However, this design feature could mean the Casper Original Pillow isn't so suitable if you sleep on your side, being too firm or high for a dedicated side sleeper. It's a little high maintenance though, as the pillow’s fill needs to be fluffed daily to keep its shape. You'll need to wash it too, and you can learn some easy ways to do this in our feature on how to wash a pillow.
If you mainly sleep on your side, then the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow is a great choice for you. This is a genuinely supportive and comfortable pillow for side sleepers, with a thick build-quality that keeps its shape throughout the night. What's more, it's also hypoallergenic.
The special gel-fiber filling is designed to feel as plush as down but comes without the allergy issues that might be associated with it. The pillow is dust-mite, mold- and mildew-resistant too, so it’s an ideal choice if you want to maintain a healthy sleep environment.
The Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows are sold in packs of two, which makes them incredibly good value for money – ideal if you need pillows for a guest bed, for instance. The affordability of these pillows makes them a no-brainer if you're on a budget and looking for something that will last you a long time. Plus they are robust, so should see you sleeping soundly night after night.
Pillow loft is important for every position you sleep in, and if you’re a stomach or back sleeper, you’ll need a shallower pillow than side sleepers otherwise your neck will be bent forward and out of alignment, causing neck pain. The Tempur-Pedic Tempur Cloud Pillow is great for back and stomach sleepers thanks to its low profile. While Tempur-Pedic describes it as an extra soft feel, we’d say it’s more soft to medium-soft.
Like the brand’s famous pressure-relieveing mattresses, the Tempur Cloud Pillow is made using NASA-developed Tempur material. This responds to the shape of your head for more personalized levels of comfort and support during sleep. Tempur is reasonably pliant and squishy too, so you can roll this one up to take on vacation to ensure you’re still getting a good night’s sleep.
We also like how it comes with a removable cover for machine washing. The cover is made from 100% polyester, so it’s breathable. Though if you’re a very hot sleeper, we’d recommend the Eight Sleep Air Carbon Pillow as the best choice for you instead.
The Tempur-Pedic Tempur Cloud Pillow has over 4,880 user reviews (as of Dec 2021), with over 3,699 of those awarding it 5 out of 5 stars. While a minority of users criticize it for being too firm and not the extra-soft feel Tempur promised, the majority of sleepers praise its high comfort and how cool it feels beneath their head.
This real down pillow by Parachute is super-fluffy and available in three different levels of firmness (soft, medium and firm) to suit all common sleeping positions. To keep your neck in a neutral position, Soft is recommended as the best choice for stomach sleepers, Medium for back sleepers, and Firm for side sleepers. It also comes in standard (20 x 26”) and king size (20 x 36”).
The Parachute Down Pillow has a 750 fill power courtesy of ethically sourced European white down. It feels squishy yet supportive in the hand, and is designed to be breathable, meaning it’s suitable for those who sleep warm. However if you’re a hot sleeper or prone to night sweats, we’d recommend the Layla Kapok Pillow or Eight Sleep Carbon Air Pillow further down this guide instead.
The shell is made from 100% cotton sateen, with reinforced double stitched piping seam keeping all that down fill safely enclosed. You can machine wash the Parachute Down Pillow on a delicate cycle wash, then tumble dry on low with wool dryer balls. There are over 1,200 user reviews on the Parachute site, and while some complain that even the Firm version isn’t firm enough, most sleepers are happy with the cozy feel provided. In short, if you want the best pillow for recreating hotel decadence at home, try this one.
With a plush and supportive feeling, the Purple Harmony Pillow is one of the most luxurious around. The company’s signature Purple Grid provides tailored support for your head and neck, while a breathable cover keeps you cool.
The main core of the pillow is made using Talalay latex, which is also ventilated to help keep air flowing through the pillow. Latex is naturally bouncy, so it will support your head and neck well, but because it is more expensive than memory foam, this pillow comes with a higher price tag.
There are three different pillow heights to choose from, each designed to suit different sleeping styles and frames. The low Purple Harmony Pillow works for small to medium frames, and stomach and back sleepers, while the medium is good for medium to large frames and combination sleepers.
Meanwhile, the tall size is ideal for large to extra-large frames, as well as side or combination sleepers. With this variety on offer, it's easy to find a pillow in the range that will suit your sleeping style – and if you're not sure, take advantage of the 100-night trial and see for yourself.
The Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow is designed to be particularly suitable for side sleepers, with the pillow’s butterfly shape delivering just the right amount of firmness to support the space between your head and neck.
You can also remove, add, or adjust the amount of memory foam in the Zoey pillow to control how high or low the loft is and to make the pillow softer or firmer. However, because the pillow is somewhat firmer than many others in this guide, it won't be the best choice for everyone.
The Zoey is the best pillow for sleepers experiencing neck and shoulder pain, as it gives your shoulders plenty of space and helps keep your spine aligned. The Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow is certified toxin-free and comes with a five-year warranty, which is better than most other warranties on pillows in this guide.
The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow comes in both low and high loft options, with the low loft being more suited to stomach sleepers and the high to back sleepers. But the main draw of this pillow is how cool it keeps sleepers at night. As you lie on the pillow you can feel air flowing through the fabric and the pillow really doesn’t trap any heat at all.
The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow provides excellent pressure relief, as the latex allows the sleeper's head to sink in gently. When you lie down, the pillow will retain its loft on either side of the head, which means it provides good support if you turn your head as you sleep.
However, this is an extremely bouncy pillow, which some side sleepers may not find to their liking. If you have a latex allergy, then the Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow shouldn't cause any problems, as the hypoallergenic cover and inserts provide a barrier to keep sleepers from direct contact with the latex.
The Eight Sleep Carbon Air Pillow is another ideal choice if you sleep hot. The graphite-infused foam-fill prevents overheating, helping the pillow stay cool from dusk till dawn. This pillow is incredibly durable too and will maintain its shape at all times, making it an ideal choice for people who don’t want to fluff up their pillows constantly.
With its fixed six-inch loft, the Eight Sleep Carbon Air Pillow is the best choice for combination and back sleepers. Those who sleep on their stomach are likely to find it a little too tall and there’s a danger it could give those sleepers a sore neck. Is it worth the higher price tag? We think so – and its durability means it will easily outlive some of its cheaper competitors too.
How to choose the best pillow for your sleep
In general, all sleepers should look for an easy-to-clean pillow, which keeps you cool at night and is made from breathable materials. If you tend to sleep in a certain position on your back, front, or side, then think about choosing the following pillows for your sleep style
Back sleepers – Choose a pillow with medium loft and firmness to relieve pressure in the neck and shoulders, while maintaining neutral spine alignment. Look for pillows with extra cushioning on top.
Side sleepers – Look for a pillow with high loft and firm support to relieve pressure at the shoulder and help maintain a neutral spine position. Adjustable pillows with fluffable materials will also help you adjust the shape more easily to suit your position.
Stomach sleepers – A pillow with low loft and soft support will help keep the spine in alignment, and prevent the head from being too propped up. A compressible fill allows the pillow to be shaped into a comfortable low loft.
We'd recommend picking a pillow that comes on a trial period, giving you at least three weeks to make sure it's the best choice for your sleep and posture.
Are memory foam pillows any good?
Memory foam pillows have a lot of benefits for more comfortable sleep. The main advantage is contouring, which means the memory foam molds itself to your head and neck as soon as you lie down. It's the same benefit you'll get from one of the best memory foam mattresses for pressure relief.
People with neck pain often benefit from a memory foam pillow, but the depth of the pillow should be considered too. Deep memory foam pillows are a great choice for side sleepers, while firmer and shallower foam pillows will better support stomach and back sleepers.
Memory foam pillows relieve pressure points by distributing the weight of your head and neck across the entire pillow, so you should feel much more comfortable when sleeping.
The downside to memory foam is that it can retain heat, so hot sleepers may struggle with this type of pillow depending on the type of memory foam it's made from. There are plenty of cooling gel-infused memory foam pillows to choose from now, and these dissipate heat, boost airflow and regulate temperature to keep you cool. Our top-rated memory foam pillow for hot sleepers is the Layla Kapok Pillow, priced from $109 at Layla Sleep (opens in new tab).
While your pillow can make an instant difference to how comfortably you sleep, consider pairing it with one of the best mattress toppers too. These breathe new life into older mattresses and can also relieve pressure points.
Do you need a pillow protector?
A pillow protector keeps your pillow clean for longer, safeguarding it from dust mites, spills, stains and germs in the same way a good mattress protector looks after your mattress. While spills and stains are unsightly and a breeding ground for bacteria, dust mites are the other big problem with unprotected pillows - especially those that aren’t cleaned regularly.
With regular nightly use, your dead skin cells, hair, sweat and more build up on your pillow. This moist environment provides plenty of food and nourishment for dust mites, and these microscopic bugs and their droppings can trigger allergies and make asthma worse.
So if you cut off their food supply by covering your pillow with an anti-allergy pillow protector, you’ll make it harder for them to thrive. Not all pillow protectors are up to the job though, and the best are certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) as asthma and allergy friendly. To get this certification, the pillow protector has been proven to block over 95% to 99% of dust mite allergens.
While you’ll still need to wash your sleep pillow regularly and replace it every two years, a protector will do the majority of the heavy lifting for you when keeping your pillow clean. You should wash the protector monthly, or more often if you experience night sweats, dandruff or skin irritations.
Ensure the rest of your sleeping space is comfy and supportive too. There are plenty of mattress sales each month that cover bedding such as pillows and protectors, and you'll find luxury and budget options here. These include the best Saatva mattress sales for luxury sleep, and the latest Nectar mattress sale for memory foam bedding.
Can pillows be recycled?
Pillows aren’t usually accepted in curbside recycling bins, so you’ll need to visit a textile recycling center. When recycled, pillows are broken down into their separate components, with the material shredded or ground up for reuse in another item.
Depending on the recycling center you visit, the fibers inside pillows can be recycled into clothing, rugs and carpets, cleaning cloths, and other household items. You can take your pillows to a textile recycling facility as long as they aren’t stained with sweat, oil, blood or grease.
The American Textile Recycling Service has drop-off bins in a few states, and these take pillows. If you have an old feather filled pillow, the feathers can be mixed into a compost bin, helping to create a rich fertilizer for your garden. The stuffing inside non-down pillows could also be used to make stuffed animals or even new pillows.