Picks

The Best Bed Pillows

We spent 956 nights on 57 pillows.

pillows
Photo: Michael Hession

After three years of testing—over which we spent a combined 956 nights on 57 pillows—and talking with nine bedding experts, we recommend the supportive and moldable Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow (standard) for most back- and side-sleepers, and the softer, smoother Snowe Down Alternative Pillow (firm) for stomach-sleepers. Each offers a great combination of comfort and an affordable price.

Our pick: Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow and Snowe Down Alternative Pillow

Xtreme Comforts pillow
The Xtreme Comforts pillow looks a little lumpier than down pillows, due to the shredded foam interior, but the foam molds nicely to the sleeper’s head.
Photo: Michael Hession

Our experts agree that there’s no one best pillow for everyone, but in three years of testing, the shredded-memory-foam Xtreme Comforts pillow has performed very well with side- and back-sleepers. Our testers found it supportive without being too stiff or firm, and its moldability made it more comfortable than you’d imagine for a pillow filled with cut-up foam. A few of our stomach-sleepers also really liked this pillow. Xtreme Comforts recently modified the pillow’s cover so that you can adjust the fill, making it customizable for a range of sleep positions. The company offers a 30-day return policy, so you can try out the pillow before committing.

Our stomach-sleepers ranked the firm-density Snowe Down Alternative Pillow as their favorite. The alt-down fill provides more support than a down pillow, but it flattens more than memory foam (which can feel uncomfortably lofty if you sleep on your stomach) so it minimizes neck strain. Several members of our sleep panel loved how cool, soft, and squishy the Snowe Down Alternative pillow was. For side-sleepers, it performed the best of the non-memory-foam pillows we tested. Snowe offers a 90-day return policy, which gives you plenty of time to determine if the pillow works for you.

BUY: Xtreme Comforts
$50, Amazon

BUY: Snowe Down Alternative Pillow
$38, Snowe

Upgrade pick: The Easy Breather Pillow and Snowe Down Pillow

Easy Breather pillow
Photo: Michael Hession

The Easy Breather offers everything testers love about the Xtreme Comforts pillow—support and moldability—with a better cover that helps offset the lumpy feeling of shredded memory foam. However, at twice the price, we’d get it only if you really want a smooth-feeling pillow. As with the Xtreme Comforts, The Easy Breather’s fill is adjustable. It comes with the best return policy we’ve seen (100 days), so you can try before committing.

If you prefer a down pillow, our stomach-sleepers gave the Snowe Down Pillow (firm) high marks for height, softness, and ability to keep its shape during the night. It deflates more than the Snowe Down Alternative Pillow, making it a better choice for stomach-sleepers who need minimal neck support. Our testers found it more comfortable and a better value than other down options. As with Snowe’s other pillows, you can return this one within 90 days if you don’t find it comfortable.

BUY: The Easy Breather
$100, Nest Bedding

BUY: Snowe Down Pillow
$58, Snowe

Budget pick: Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow

Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow
Photo: Michael HessionBudget pick

Back-sleepers appreciated the Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow (medium), which provided just the right height and support that back-sleepers need, and at just the right price. The Premier lacks the moldable support of the Xtreme Comforts’ shredded foam filling, but also costs a lot less. Unlike our other picks, you can’t try this pillow before committing, because you have to return it unused within 30 days.

BUY: Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow
$45, Amazon (for two)

Why you should trust us

We jumped into this guide with a multidisciplinary approach, interviewing experts in sleep, textiles, manufacturing, and the bedding industry: Shannon Maher, assistant professor of home development products, Fashion Institute of Technology; Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and clinical sleep educator; Jennifer Marks, editor-in-chief of Home & Textiles Today; Tim O’Hearn, owner of French Quarter Linens; Rebecca Robbins, sleep consultant for The Benjamin hotel; Sean Bergman, chief marketing officer of PureCare; Scott Tannen, co-founder of Boll & Branch; Jamie Diamonstein, co-founder of Leesa; and Michael Breus, a psychologist and American Academy of Sleep Medicine fellow.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano spent hundreds of hours researching and sleeping on pillows for this piece, and also wrote Wirecutter’s guide to the best mattress and pillow protectors and encasements. Jackie Reeve is Wirecutter’s staff bedding writer responsible for our guides to sheetsblanketsduvet covers, and robes.

Who should get this

When a pillow stops making you comfortable, it’s time for a new one. “If you’re not sleeping as well as you should, changing pillows might be that first step,” said registered nurse and clinical sleep educator Terry Cralle. Visually, lumpiness and clumping are cues to replace your pillow.

For down pillows, The Company Store recommends folding the pillow in half and pressing out the air. If it stays folded when you release it, time for a new pillow. For down-alternative and other synthetic fills, do the same test, but this time put a heavy object—they recommend a shoe—on top. If the pillow throws off the object, it’s still good to go.

How to choose a pillow for your sleep position

stack of pillows
Photo: Michael Hession

The experts we interviewed agreed that there’s no one best pillow for everyone, but there is a best pillow (or pillows) for you. Finding the right one can be a trial-and-error process. To begin, ask yourself what position you sleep in most of the night. Many of us switch it up but still fall asleep and wake up on our back, side, or stomach. You want a pillow that will keep your head and neck in the same relative position as when you’re standing with good posture. Different types of sleepers have different pillow needs:

Side-sleepers will need the most support (roughly 4 to 6 inches). Most people are side-sleepers.

Back-sleepers usually need somewhat less loft to stay properly aligned.

Stomach-sleepers are a trickier bunch: If you sleep with your head turned to the side resting on a pillow, you need the least amount of support. If you tuck your arms under your torso, sleep in a half-side, half-stomach position, or have sensitive breasts, you may prefer more cushioning.

Some manufacturers market their pillows as targeted toward back-, stomach-, or side-sleepers, but as there are no industry standards about what makes a side-sleeper pillow versus one for a back-sleeper, at the end of the day it’s meaningless.

pillow fillings
We’ve found that most sleepers prefer pillows with down, memory foam, or down-alternative fills.
Photo: Michael Hession

The material inside the pillow also determines level of support. We’ve tried pillows with a wide range of fills—including latex, buckwheat, and solid memory foam—but our testers consistently liked shredded down, memory foam, and alternative down the best. Here’s a brief look at their differences:

Down

Pros: Good neck support and comfort, durable, and luxurious. Stomach-sleepers often like that it molds easily around their head.

Cons: Expensive, possibility of down allergies (which a pillow protector can guard against), may be too warm for some, requires more care than other fills

Shredded memory foam

Pros: Supportive, midrange price, easy to maintain, fewer allergy concerns, and not sourced from animals. It works for a range of sleep positions because the moldable fill easily adjusts.

Cons: Tends to retain heat, shorter lifespan

Down-alternative

Pros: Good neck support and comfort, lower price, and not sourced from animals. Testers in all of our sleep positions liked that it isn’t too stiff and stays lofty.

Cons: Less durable and fluffy than down

How we picked

Once you’ve identified your primary sleep position and have an idea of the fill you prefer, we think the following criteria, which we used to pick pillows for testing, are the key to choosing a pillow that works for you:

Comfort: We looked for pillows with great neck support that were still comfortable after a full night’s sleep, and ones that didn’t bunch, roll, or lose their shape in the night. We ruled out any pillows that caused overheating and sweating.

Construction: We looked for at least five to eight stitches per inch along the seams of the shell (outer covering), and noted when seams were reinforced with piping or binding. In the case of down, we looked for densely woven fabric that wouldn’t let fill escape

Price: Expect to pay $45 to $80 for foam, $30 to $100 for down alternative, and anywhere from $70 to $230 for down. We didn’t bother with supercheap one-piece polyester pillows, because their low price is the only advantage they have over $30 pillows with higher-quality fills.

Return policy and warranty: We favored retailers who offered generous return policies (from 30 to 100 days), because it takes a few nights to determine if a pillow is a good fit. We expected higher-end pillows to include a warranty, which usually covers only manufacturer defects. Length of coverage varies widely, from lifetime warranties for pricey down pillows to a reasonable three years for less expensive alternative-down options.

To decide which pillows to test, we talked with experts from the textile and manufacturing world, as well as sleep consultants in the medical field. We consulted leading comprehensive sleep site Sleep Like the Dead, and also looked at Good Housekeeping. We read owner reviews for pillows sold at a variety of large retailers, including Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as smaller start-up bedding companies and more traditional brands like L.L.Bean, Royal Velvet, and Cuddledown.

How we tested

pile of pillows
Over the years we’ve tested almost 60 models of pillows, including this stack from 2017.
Photo: Michael Hession

In 2016 and 2017, we had a total of 11 people of various sleep positions sleep for a total of 459 nights on 45 pillows. In 2018, we built on this work, inviting three people (representing each sleep position) to try 30 pillows. Based on their feedback, we narrowed the selection to 12, which included our past recommendations. We then asked a panel of nine people—evenly divided between side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers—to sleep with the pillows for a month. Each household received a fresh set of pillows. The entire panel tried five of the pillows, but we divided the remaining seven models by sleep position.

We asked our panel to use each pillow for three nights and to fill out a questionnaire with their feedback. A few testers found some of the pillows too uncomfortable to use for even one night; other pillows they wanted to use for more than three nights. Combined, we spent 497 nights sleep-testing the 2018 crop of pillows.

Our pick for side- and back-sleepers: Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Photo: Michael Hession

For three years running we’ve recommended the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow (standard) for most back- and side-sleepers. It’s supportive without being too firm or stiff, and the moldable, adjustable fill makes it easy to adjust. The price is a big bonus, too. It wasn’t the highest-rated pillow for all of our 20 testers over the past three years, but it did rank near the top for almost everyone, so we’re certain that the Xtreme Comforts won’t steer you wrong.

Back- and side-sleepers liked the Xtreme Comforts because it offered neck support without being stiff (a problem with many loftier pillows). One side-sleeper told us, “This pillow gives much better support for my neck than any down/synthetic down pillow I have owned in the past.” Another side-sleeper, who typically doubles up on synthetic pillows, told us this pillow was more comfortable, “I like shredded memory foam more than I thought I would.” In previous years of testing, even some stomach-sleepers liked the Xtreme Comforts (although all of our stomach testers this year preferred the Snowe Down Alternative Pillow).

Testing foam fill in the Xtreme Comforts molds
The shredded foam fill in the Xtreme Comforts molds to pressure without being too springy or stiff.
Video: Michael Hession

Some of the support that shredded foam offers comes from its moldability, as you can push the filling around to cradle your head and neck. All makers of shredded memory foam pillows brag about this, but the Xtreme Comforts was particularly good at holding its shape instead of shifting around. You can also unzip the cover to remove filling to get an optimal loft, a new feature since we last tested this pillow in 2017. We’ve seen only a couple of other pillows, including The Easy Breather, that allow you to remove fill. Unlike most other pillows we tested, the Xtreme Comforts’s moldability makes it appropriate for both back- and side-sleepers, and even some stomach-sleepers—which means it works for people who shift around a lot throughout the night.

There are other things to like about the Xtreme Comforts: the breathable, micro-perforated bamboo viscose-polyester–blend cover that helped ensure that hot sleepers stayed cool, and the fact that it’s made in the USA. But one of its best—and most surprising—bonuses is its low price. Testers have consistently overestimated the cost of this pillow. It comes with a 30-day return policy, which will give you a chance to try it out before you fully commit, and a lifetime warranty against defects.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The main trouble with any shredded memory foam pillow is that it can feel and look lumpy. One tester noted, “It felt weird at first—I had to get used to it.” Still, for the three years we’ve tested this pillow, our back- and side-sleeping testers were pleasantly surprised. Long-term testers report that they adjusted to the irregular texture of the Xtreme Comforts pretty quickly. Shredded foam won’t make for a night of high-end luxury, but it’ll make for a night of good sleep.

The Xtreme Comforts also requires a little more maintenance—to reap the most benefit from it, you have to mold it a little. People who toss and turn a lot might find it annoying to tweak the pillow throughout the night. The pillow arrives compressed and needs a few minutes in the dryer (or, if you don’t have one, a manual fluffing) to get it to the right loft.

Several staffers found the standard size too small, while another found the queen size too big. If you tend to like big, huggable pillows, the queen-size Xtreme Comforts might be more your style, but don’t feel like you need to upgrade automatically.

BUY: Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
$50, Amazon

Our pick for stomach-sleepers: Snowe Down Alternative Pillow

Snowe Down Alternative Pillow
Photo: Rozette Rago

The Snowe Down Alternative Pillow (firm) scored nearly perfect marks from our 2018 stomach-sleepers. They noted that it was supportive, felt softer than shredded memory foam, and stayed springier than the down pillows we tested. Even some of our stomach-sleepers preferred it to the Xtreme Comforts. Our panel loved its solid construction, soft shell, and affordable price. Snowe also offers a 90-day return policy, which is one of the most generous we’ve seen for a pillow.

Our stomach-sleepers agreed that the Snowe gave the perfect amount of neck support. One tester told us, “I loved this pillow. I think it made me realize how much I hate memory foam. It was supportive without being too high.” Another tester noted that the fill felt softer and gave better support than shredded foam pillows like the Xtreme Comforts (which most of our stomach-sleepers didn’t like). Our testers also found that the Snowe Down Alternative Pillow held its shape through the night better than down options.

This pillow also tested well with side-sleepers who don’t like shredded memory foam, but they sometimes needed to stack two pillows to get enough height. One side tester said, “I really liked how it felt with two pillows, and it didn’t roll or bunch as much in the night.”

The firm-density Snowe Down Alternative Pillow costs a bit more than the Xtreme Comforts, but it’s beautifully made for the price, with neat stitching and a silky, cool cotton shell that’s Oeko-Tex certified (the fabric is guaranteed to be free of harmful substances). Snowe offers a 90-day return policy and a three-year limited warranty covering manufacturer defects—combined, that’s one of the most generous policies we’ve seen.

Note that we also tried Snowe’s soft and medium densities of this pillow. Even our stomach-sleepers found them too soft and much preferred the firm density.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

When they’re new, synthetic pillows usually start out feeling very similar to down, but don’t always keep that smooth plushness when the fill begins to shift. We’ll keep doing long-term testing to see if the Snowe Down Alternative stays as comfortable over time.

BUY: Snowe Down Alternative Pillow
$60, Snowe

Upgrade pick for side- and back-sleepers: The Easy Breather Pillow

If you want the support and moldability of shredded memory foam, but you’d like to avoid the slightly lumpy texture of the Xtreme Comforts, get the The Easy Breather Pillow. Its thicker Tencel-blend cover masks the texture of the shredded foam fill. For two years it has been the top-performing pillow for both side- and back-sleepers. It’s an expensive pillow, though, and most of our testers said they’d buy the Xtreme Comforts instead.

Easy Breather unzipped
The Easy Breather allows you to unzip the cover to remove the shredded memory foam, so you can tweak the amount of fill to suit your specific sleep needs.
Photo: Michael Hession

Like the Xtreme Comforts pillow, the Easy Breather allows you to remove fill to suit your preference. Out of the box it was too lofty for some. As one back-sleeper told us, “I realized after all these pillows that I like a really understuffed pillow, and this one after I took a third of the stuffing out was perfect. My ideal pillow.”

The Easy Breather comes with a generous 100-day return policy, and a lifetime warranty covering manufacturer defects.

BUY: The Easy Breather Pillow
$100, Nest Bedding

Upgrade pick for stomach-sleepers: Snowe Down Pillow

Snowe Down Pillow
Photo: Rozette Rago

If you know you prefer down pillows, which is a specific luxury feel that people tend to either love or hate, we recommend the Snowe Down Pillow (firm). For stomach-sleepers, it was a close second to the Snowe Down Alternative. It has the same beautiful construction and smooth shell but sinks more during the night.

“This is my ideal pillow,” one down-loving tester said. “The height, the softness, and the sink were all exactly how I want my pillows to be.” Some of our stomach-sleepers also occasionally sleep on their sides, and none noted any pain or discomfort from shifting positions with this pillow. It’s also Oeko-Tex certified, and we’ve confirmed that Snowe sources its down from a supplier certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which ensures an ethical supply chain and down from humanely treated geese.

We tried the soft and medium densities for this pillow as well, but our testers only liked the firm version. As with their alt-down pillow, Snowe offers a 90-day return policy and a three-year limited warranty for the down pillow.

BUY: Snowe Down Pillow
$100, Snowe

Budget pick for back-sleepers: Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow

Our main pick, the Xtreme Comforts, is already reasonably priced, but if you want an even cheaper option, back-sleepers should consider the Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillow (medium). Over two years of testing with two sets of back-sleepers it’s scored high marks for support, comfort, and overall sleep quality. It’s lofty and moldable because its fill is made of clusters instead of one big piece of polyester, unlike many pillows at this price. Some back-sleepers found it too airy and not supportive enough, and one tester noted that it caused overheating, but, at around $35 for two pillows, you can’t beat the price.

Note that the medium-density version is the only one we recommend, and it’s best for back-sleepers. Testers didn’t care much for the firm- and soft-density versions of the Premier Down-like. If you sleep on your side or stomach and are looking for a bargain pillow, stick with the Xtreme Comforts or the Snowe Down Alternative.

Fitting with the bargain price, these pillows have the most limited return policyof all our picks (and no warranty). If you purchase through Overstock, you can return the pillows—only unused—within 30 days.

BUY: Premier Down-like Personal Choice Density Pillows (Set of 2)
$44, Amazon

Care and maintenance

Down, down alternative, and shredded memory foam pillows can all be machine-washed. Use a mild liquid detergent on the delicate cycle with cold water, and wash them two at a time so that the machine is load-balanced. Shannon Maher, assistant professor of home development products at the Fashion Institute of Technology, suggests running a separate rinse cycle to remove every trace of soap residue. Down pillows are often labeled as “dry-clean only”; you can wash and dry them, but this might void the warranty. If you have a dust-mite allergy, we recommend using a pillow protector.

Dry pillows on low heat with a new tennis ball to help fluff them (Martha Stewart suggests stuffing the tennis ball in a clean white sock to keep green fuzz off your clean pillows). Thoroughly dry your pillows before they go back on your bed, as moisture can encourage mold growth. A few minutes in the dryer is also helpful for shredded memory foam to maintain loft in between washings.

The competition

Our top picks aside, testers’ responses to pillows were all over the place, so read this section with your own preferences in mind. A factor that knocked some pillows out of the running for us might be just what you love in a pillow. We’ve noted the pillows that side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers found comfortable.

Down

L.L.Bean 700-Fill-Power Sateen White Goose Down Pillow (firm)
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
We tested all three densities of L.L.Bean’s 700-Fill pillow, but only the firm density made it into our sleep tests. It scored very well with stomach-sleepers who like down, with one telling us, “It actually conformed to my sleeping positions very well, while still keeping its form. It felt very, very supportive.” It didn’t score as well with side-, back-, or combo-sleepers.

Parachute Down Pillow (soft)
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
Parachute’s softest pillow was our previous top pick for stomach-sleepers, and we still think it’s the best pillow if you’re a stomach-sleeper who wants just a touch of support for your head. One stomach-sleeper told us, “It stays even and the material doesn’t shift around over time. To me, it’s always soft and comfortable.” Our stomach/side combo-sleeper couldn’t make it through a night with the Parachute because it was so thin.

Parachute Down Pillow (firm)
Good for: Stomach- and back-sleepers
The Parachute firm down pillow used to be our upgrade pick, and we still think it’s a great pick for down lovers. A couple of sleepers said that it didn’t stay lofty throughout the night, but others loved how it cradled their head.

Brooklinen Down Pillow (plush)
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
Stomach-sleepers who prefer a soft, squishy pillow loved this down pillow. One stomach-sleeper reported that it made her feel “like my head was floating weightless on a freakin’ cloud from heaven.” But most of our testers prefered the Snowe down pillow.

Cuddledown 700 Fill Power European White Goose Down Sateen Pillow (medium)
Good for: Stomach- and back-sleepers
Some of our back sleepers really liked Cuddledown’s medium-fill pillow, while others found it comfortable but not remarkable. One stomach-sleeper gave it a perfect score and told us, “It’s soft with enough cushion for my neck. It didn’t feel overly-firm, and it felt supportive for a variety of sleeping positions. It’s a really good multi-use pillow.” However, it’s pricey and didn’t outperform others we tested for back- and stomach-sleepers.

Feathered Friends Cascade Series
Good for: Back- and side-sleepers
Back- and side-sleepers appreciated the luxurious quality of the Feathered Friends firm and medium 700-fill pillows. But some wanted more support, while others wanted less from both the medium and firm versions. If you’re concerned about the ethics of down, Feathered Friends is a good choice because its products are RDS certified.

Crane & Canopy The Back Sleeper Goose Down Pillow
Good for: Back-sleepers
Testers loved the fluffiness of the Crane & Canopy back-sleeper but had problems with its level of support—some found it too firm, others found that their head had “bottomed out” during the night. For people who want a medium-loft down pillow, this is worth a try.

Brooklinen Down Pillow (firm)
Good for: Side-sleepers
This pillow is made from a mix of feathers and down, which makes it a little less lofty than all-down versions. Side-sleepers didn’t find it as comfortable as other down pillows we tried.

Brooklinen Down Pillow (mid-plush)
Good for: Back-sleepers
Back-sleepers found that the mid-plush version (also made of feathers and down) didn’t hold its loft as well as the competition, and said it wasn’t as comfortable as they expected from down.

Lands’ End Elite Goose Down Pillow (soft)
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
One of our stomach-sleepers liked this pillow but noted that the company’s decision to pull an interview with Gloria Steinem from its catalogue made her sour on the brand, which raises an auxiliary point: If the branding of a pillow resonates with you—or doesn’t—that’s ultimately going to affect how much you like it.

Lands’ End Ultimate Goose Down Pillow (medium)
This goose down pillow prompted lukewarm responses in our side- and back-sleepers; testers found it nice but not exceptional, and a bit of down was migrating out of the shell, which isn’t a good sign for longevity.

Malouf Z Cotton Encased Down Blend Pillow (standard)
This was the highest-rated down/feather pillow on Amazon under $100 at the time of testing. Side-sleepers found it comfortable at first but ultimately needed more height for proper support throughout the night. Back-sleepers liked its support and extra-long size, but said it was just too firm and flat to be comfortable over the long haul.

Royal Hotel Goose Down Pillow
Back- and side-sleepers rated this as strictly average. Two reviewers likened it to a hotel pillow, but not in a good way: “You can tell most people are just ‘whatever’ about this pillow, but it’s not uncomfortable so it gets by,” said one back-sleeper (and our side-sleepers agreed).

Parachute Down Pillow (medium)
In contrast to the firm and soft version of the Parachute Down Pillow, the medium option was a disappointment. Sleepers said that it flattened out or bunched up too easily.

Snowe Down Pillow (soft and medium densities)
We liked only the firm version of this pillow, which is our upgrade pick.

Royal Velvet Premium Down All Sleep Positions Pillow
This pillow wasn’t popular with any of our first-round testers, so we sleep-tested the better-performing Royal Velvet Luxury Gel Down-Alternative Pillow.

Down alternative

The Leesa Hybrid Pillow
Good for: Back-sleepers
Some of our back-sleepers like this pillow. One side of the pillow is tufted for extra loft, while the other is flat and smooth. It also has a smaller, removable pillow inside with a cooling gel insert surrounded by synthetic fill. “I appreciate being able to take out the extra small pillow inside, probably the size of an airplane pillow, because I like my pillows extra thin,” one tester told us. Another noted, “This pillow had just the right amount of firmness for making sleeping on my side or back comfortable. It seemed to adapt well to my different neck and head positions. It’s also just fun to squish.” Our third back-sleeping tester found it was too stuffed and had some neck pain in the night.

Crane & Canopy Down Alternative Sham Pillow
Good for: All sleep positions
One stomach-sleeping tester who tends to prefer pillows with ample loft said that this is the first conventional (meaning not memory foam or buckwheat) pillow she’s loved enough to buy herself. Other testers reported that it felt supportive but dense, and that it felt “deflated and hard” by the morning.

MyPillow (green, white, and yellow)
Good for: All sleep positions
MyPillow’s range of options makes it seem like the answer to the customization problem—instead of buying by firm, medium, or soft, or even by sleeping position, MyPillow asks a handful of questions and determines which type is the best fit, assigning colors instead of descriptive names. This worked magic for one back-sleeper, who called the green MyPillow one of the best pillows he’s ever slept on; one side-sleeper also loved its lofty support. But testers found the yellow and white versions lumpy, flat, and unsupportive, even when their MyPillow sleeping profile indicated that they’d be best off with that type.

Parachute Down Alternative Pillow (firm)
Good for: Side-sleepers
Our 2017 panel of side-sleepers liked Parachute’s firm down-alternative pillow, but not more than the others we tested.

Parachute Down Alternative Pillow (soft)
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
Stomach-sleepers who liked a soft pillow with little support appreciated this pillow, but those who wanted more substance found it merely flat.

The Casper Pillow
Good for: All sleep positions
Casper markets this pillow as appropriate for all sleeping positions, which we knew from our research is a very difficult claim to fulfill. One tester loved it while everybody else thought it was just fine. It wasn’t as moldable or supportive as side- and back-sleepers wanted. Stomach-sleepers who preferred a flatter pillow found the Casper too thick, though they noted that it was useful for stomach-sleepers who shift to their side throughout the night.

Cuddledown 450 TC Sateen Synthetic Fill Pillow (medium)
Good for: Stomach- and side-sleepers
This pillow’s scores were all over the map. One stomach-sleeper told us it was one of the better synthetic-fill pillows, while another thought it was too puffy and firm. One side-sleeper siad it sank too much, while another who typically uses two pillows noted, “I started with two pillows and actually switched in the night. It was pretty great on its own.”

The Company Store LoftAire Pillow
Our first-round side-sleeping tester liked this one, but we passed on sleep-testing it in favor of similar-feeling pillows with better owner reviews.

The Company Store’s Black Label Primaloft Collection
This pillow compressed too much for side- and back-sleepers, though one back-sleeper noted that its softness made it feel more luxurious than most down-alt options. It received a thumbs-down from all stomach-sleepers, who said it was just too lofty.

Parachute Down Alternative Pillow (medium)
We tested this one with back-sleepers, who reported that it was too dense to be truly comfortable.

Premier Down-like Personal Choice Pillow (firm)
Side-sleepers we tested this pillow with said it was too lofty to be comfortable.

Premier Down-like Personal Choice Pillow (soft)
Stomach-sleepers who tested this pillow said it was too flat, and that it made an uncomfortable impression on the cheek.

Royal Velvet Luxury Gel Down-Alternative All Sleep Positions Pillow
This caused neck pain and discomfort for testers in every sleep position.

Snowe Down Alternative Pillow (soft and medium densities)
Testers didn’t like the soft and medium versions of this pillow as much as the firm (our top pick for stomach-sleepers).

Cuddledown Gusseted Sateen Synthetic Fill Pillow
All of our initial testers found this pillow uncomfortable.

Shredded memory foam

Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow
Good for: All sleep positions
Side-sleepers liked this pillow a lot, and it was in the middle of the pack for back- and stomach-sleepers. But no one liked it better than the Xtreme Comforts or The Easy Breather.

Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow
Good for: All sleep positions
Testers struggled to identify how much fill to remove from this pillow, and it lacks the thick, lump-hiding cover of The Easy Breather. Overall, it didn’t outperform the Xtreme Comforts.

Xtreme Comforts Slim
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
This is the slim version of our main pick, just with less fill. We found that people who prefer a flattish pillow liked down options more, and people who wanted a pillow with more support needed more loft.

Coop Home Goods Original Pillow
This shredded-foam pillow was just too big and heavy (3½ pounds) to allow for full malleability. Side-sleepers didn’t like it, and back-sleepers found its height tipped their head forward too much to maintain the ideal aligned position. Its size also made it harder to fit into a pillowcase.

Snuggle-Pedic Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
The Snuggle-Pedic managed to feel even bigger than the Coop Home Goods despite weighing less (3.4 pounds). Side-sleepers wanted more malleability than it offered.

Xtreme Comforts Luxury Plush Gel Infused Pillow
We considered testing this, but didn’t see any reason why it would outperform the standard Xtreme Comforts. We haven’t had any complaints about our pick overheating, and we often think cooling technologies are unnecessary.

One-piece memory foam

Tuft & Needle Pillow
Good for: Stomach-sleepers
The Tuft & Needle could be a good bet for stomach-sleepers who like one-piece memory foam pillows. But it reminded us why we didn’t test more one-piece memory foam pillows. Sleepers found it too low for comfortably sleeping on their back or side, and too stiff to mold to their head.

Yogabed
Good for: Stomach- and back-sleepers
The Yogabed pillow has an airier feel than the BodiPedic, which was denser than the Yogabed’s highly responsive foam. Testers were mixed on this pillow. A couple called it “weird.” One back-sleeper said it was soft without being “sink-y,” and one stomach-sleeper found it supportive and liked the rounded shape that made it easy to “hug” through the night.

Malouf’s Z Zoned ActiveDough + Cooling Gel PillowMalouf Z by Malouf Convolution Pillow, and The Leesa Pillow
We tried these pillows in our first round of 2018 tests, but didn’t end up sleeping on them. They suffer the same issues as the rest of the solid-foam pillows we’ve tried; they’re harder, flatter, and less moldable so they appeal only to a very specific few people.

Latex

Simmons Beautyrest
Testers appreciated the Beautyrest’s springiness and ability to keep cool, but its slimmer profile meant it didn’t support side- or back-sleepers enough. Stomach-sleepers found it too springy to be comfortable; it even disrupted their sleep.

Sources

1. Rebecca Robbins, PhD, co-author of Sleep for Success and Sleep Expert at The Benjamin Hotel, phone interview, May 7, 2018

2. Sean Bergman, chief marketing officer at PureCare, phone interview, October 27, 2015

3. Michael Breus, PhD, psychologist and American Academy of Sleep fellow, interview

4. Terry Cralle, registered nurse and clinical sleep educator, sleep industry consultant, phone interview, October 27, 2015

5. Shannon Maher, assistant professor of home development products at the Fashion Institute of Technology, phone interview, October 26, 2015

6. Jennifer Marks, editor-in-chief at Home & Textiles Today, phone interviews

7. Tim O’Hearn, owner of French Quarter Linens, phone interview, November 3, 2015

8. Jamie Diamonstein, Leesa co-founder, phone interview, July 10, 2017

9. Scott Tannen, Boll & Branch co-founder, phone interview, July 12, 2017

10. Pillow Reviews, Ratings & Comparison, Sleep like the Dead, January 4, 2016