Finding the best pillow can take many restless nights (or years!) of testing and maybe even an achy neck here and there. Perhaps one of the more personal items to shop for, a good pillow can completely transform your sleep routine and overall well-being. But there’s an often forgotten rule of thumb that must be heeded: every year or so, one should replace their pillow.
Sooner or later, you’ll reach that time, so scroll through for our selections of the best bed pillows—but before setting out to shop, take a moment to consider your sleep preferences. Are you a side sleeper? Do you tend to overheat? While jumping into a cloud-like hotel bed topped with lofty down pillows may sound like a dream, perhaps a memory foam pillow is better suited to you. While most bedding companies offer an array of pillows—options with cooling mechanisms or for the budget-minded—the most important consideration is shape and firmness. A good pillow keeps your neck and spine aligned in a neutral position and is comfortable enough to keep you in a deep slumber throughout the night. Side sleepers should opt for a thick and firm one, stomach sleepers rest best on a soft and thin pillow, and back sleepers have a bit more flexibility; a medium combination pillow is recommended.
Below, some of our favorite pillows from down feathers to memory foam.
Down pillows are known for their ultimate plushness, the kind of luxury you feel when tucking into a cloud-like hotel bed. The most traditional offering, down pillows are made of clusters of feathers, often duck or goose, to achieve that lofty feel. Most companies offer down pillows in a variety of firmnesses and densities, so select the perfect pillow for you. To keep them in their best shape, give them a good fluff when making your bed in the morning and put them in the dryer once a month.
For those pursuing a vegan lifestyle or suffering from allergies, a down-alternative is the pillow for you. Most are made of microfiber, which mimics the same loftiness of down, ensuring maximum comfort at a budget-friendly price. Plus, they tend to be more breathable than regular down, a perk for those who find themselves flipping their pillow throughout the night. These pillows can be machine washed occasionally, but check the tag for specific care instructions.
Memory foam pillows are best suited for those who prefer a firmer pillow or often wake with a stiff neck or achy shoulder. Focused on optimal body alignment, foam pillows keep their shape while you sleep to help you rest in the best position for your spine. Since they cradle your neck, memory foam is generally best for back sleepers, but here we’ve included ones for stomach and side sleepers too. One thing to note is caring for memory foam is more delicate than down and down-alternatives, so stay clear of the washing machine and hand wash only.